The Amazing Spider-Man Directed by: Marc Webb Cast: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans, Denis Leary, Martin Sheen, Sally Field Running Time: 2 hrs 16 mins Rating: PG-13 Release Date: July 3, 2012
PLOT: Peter Parker (Garfield) tries to find out what happened to his parents, which leads him to Dr. Curt Connors (Ifans) and some mysterious genetic testing with other species.
WHO'S IT FOR? Superhero fans, and those who can still tap into some teenage angst.
EXPECTATIONS: Spider-Man 2 is one of my favorite superhero films. I love the character of Peter Parker, but just wasn't feeling the need for this film.
Andrew Garfield as Spider-Man/Peter Parker: The sheepish, awkward, stumbling teen has a new icon and it is Garfield as Peter. He gets it. The inability to talk with women, the hope for something better, the crying/blubbering when his emotions just can't be contained, it's all good. When he becomes Spider-Man, it's clear that he's a teenager we wouldn't want to hang out with (arrogant). There's a little too much jumping back and forth. Score: 7
Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy: She's blonde now, and I think that's supposed to matter. She mainly gets to make fun of herself for getting sucked in by Peter's non-charms. That's in Stone's wheelhouse. Her best moment comes when she awkwardly talks to her dad. I never felt connected to the romance between her and Garfield, though I have no clue who to blame for that. Score: 7
Rhys Ifans as The Lizard/Dr. Curt Connors: As Dr. Curt Connors, I didn't care about this guy at all. As the Lizard, he's cool to look at, and fun to watch battle, but I still never cared. Ifans is capable, but there never seems to be that one moment where he owns the screen, with either fear, disbelief or concern. Score: 5
Rest of Cast: Denis Leary plays the police captain and Gwen's dad. He gets to do Leary-like things such as bust Peter's balls. Irrfan Khan is Rajit Ratha, who is some sort of rich guy, who works for a more powerful man who is funding most projects for Dr. Curt Connors. Martin Sheen as Uncle Ben adds some really nice comedic and emotional moments, but Sally Field's Aunt May doesn't. C. Thomas Howell is cheesy, but mainly because he's C. Thomas Howell. Plus, there's Campbell Scott as Richard Parker, who potentially has to feel very lucky he's caught in this web. Score: 6
TALKING: The bully picking on Peter at school, and Spider-Man slinging one-liners are two examples of how the dialogue fails this film. They get it right when Peter is trying to deal with some serious emotional baggage, and Uncle Ben is right there with him, but otherwise what these people are saying is not the strength of this film. There are classic Spider-Man lines like, "Easy, tiger," that have been changed, but not made better. Even Dr. Connors talking to himself reminded me of Norman Osborne doing the same thing in Spider-Man. Score: 5
SIGHTS: The basics, like Peter's room, are great fun to look at. That's just the start. When we're in the science labs, I found that I was looking around, trying to take in every gadget. Once we get to Peter's new abilities, Spider-Man swinging, and the Lizard fighting, everything looks great. Just like most, I was very happy to see Peter creating his web-slinging ability instead of it coming from the spider bite. Score: 9
SOUNDS: The opening musical score was beautifully haunting when we see Peter as a small boy playing hide and seek. The Peter and Gwen kiss, is intrusive and makes me feel like I'm watching a high school musical. Adding an older Coldplay song ("'Til Kingdom Come") helps. So, there's ups and downs. Score: 6
BEST SCENE: Spider-Man swinging around. I know, sometimes I'm a simple man.
ENDING: There is some death, and we're teased with an ending that doesn't really pack much of a punch.
QUESTIONS: Did Peter forget about the guy with the tattoo? Am I supposed to be excited about whoever Rajit's boss is? Why did I never feel compassion for Dr. Connors and his 1.5 arms? Is Gwen popular at high school? How much access do interns get at this company?
REWATCHABILITY: I don't think so. It's a little too long for an excited second viewing, but I could easily see getting sucked in if it was on TV.
I liked watching everything that Spider-Man was doing, and hated listening to everything that he was saying. The following example is the perfect showcase for what I am talking about. Spider-Man says this while happily swinging away through the streets of New York.
"Hey watch out. I'm swingin' here, I'm swingin' here!"
You could end it with Peter simply loving Midnight Cowboy and attempting to make that phrase his own. I'm not going to. The cocky Spider-Man is not fun, yet that's exactly who Peter becomes. Think about the timing ... he's on a mission to search for his Uncle's killer and bring him some sort of justice. He's also an incredibly awkward, nerdy kid. He gets powers, becomes arrogant, and also loses track of how awful he feels that he's directly related to his Uncle's death. That's not creative story telling, that's just messy. It's sticking us with a superhero who is difficult to root for. Plus, if you don't do this at all, then you end up either feeling bad Peter is swinging around with all of this guilt (adding to a darker tone, which the movie tries to go for) or you just get to enjoy Spider-Man doing really cool things without the cheesy/arrogant one-liners that are attempted throughout the film. I don't care if it's accurate that a teenager would become cocky, it's not fun or moving to watch. It also feels like something Garfield's Peter wouldn't do.
Garfield and Stone are OK together, but I felt like the most enjoyable moments that each character had was when the other wasn't around. Sheen's Uncle Ben adds some weight, but then becomes forgotten within the film when the Lizard shows up. Visually, it's dynamic and the Spidey-vision we occasionally enter is tremendous fun. Not every visual is perfect though. At one point a line of lizards are somehow drawn to the Lizard. It's never explained, and immediately had me thinking about the Penguin (Batman Returns) and his gang of penguins, but without any camp quality.
Since Spider-Man and its sequels went from 2002 to 2007, none of this feels necessary. Then again, how many movies truly are? It's difficult to separate, but I'll continue to give my time to Spider-Man on the big screen, even it this entire film didn't feel amazing.
FINAL SCORE: 7/10