Another reboot has hit theaters this past July 3rd and it comes in the form of a spider. Sony Pictures and “500 Days of Summer” director Marc Webb bring us a new spin on the origin of Marvel’s favorite web-slinger with “The Amazing Spider-Man”.
Unfortunately, for me and a few others, the overall consensus on “The Amazing Spider-Man” is just “good.” This might be a result due to high hopes and expectations. I assure you, this review has no real spoilers or puns driven to tie in Marc Webb’s last name to the fact that the movie is about a Spidered man.
“The Amazing Spider-Man” aims to give us a new look, with more character development, into how Peter Parker becomes the famous “web-head”, Spider-Man. Played by Andrew Garfield (“The Social Network”) opposite love interest Emma Stone (“Easy A”, “The Help”) as Peter Parker’s first sweetheart, Gwen Stacy; Spider-Man undergoes an origin face-lift into modern times.
The first half of the movie takes the audience back to an awkward place in everybody’s life, high school. While just the notion of thinking about high school brings some of us back to an awkward place, “The Amazing Spider-Man” actually succeeds in doing so with a few awkward scenes. I’m not talking about strictly embarrassment, I’m speaking about some of the feelings that arise after viewing these scenes. The script succeeds in not allowing Andrew Garfield to fully blossom as Peter Parker. Scenes with him and Gwen Stacy are brilliant (as per Marc Webb’s claim to fame), whereas some of the non-love scenes, opposite other important characters, come off as uncouth and strange. It appears as if Peter Parker is constantly trying to say something that never comes to surface when put in important dialogue-driven scenes. While I appreciate Webb’s direction for Parker’s awkwardness as a science nerd, it seems a bit frustrating as a movie viewer. Peter’s eventual transformation also takes him to a very dark place that some would brand as “emo”. After a specific scene involving Uncle Ben (I won’t spoil it for you), which also seemed very short and in a sense, rushed, Peter undergoes a bit of a transformation into the crime-fighting superhero.
This is where the movie begins to really pick up. Where Peter Parker was a trouble-maker and shy science geek, Spider-Man becomes the antithesis by being a tough and quick-witted crime fighter. Scenes as Spider-Man work very well and come close to the comic book inception. However, once again the awkwardness ensues. While I was fine with the choice of the Dr. Curt Conners (a great performance by Rhys Ifans) story arc, the eventual transformation, and CG-heavy, Lizard grows tiresome as the movie goes on. Fight scenes with Spider-Man look great, but the Lizard’s face seemed to get old. He tended to look more on the side of a “Goomba” from the ever-popular 1993 video game-turned movie flop, The Super Mario Brothers.
Other phenomenal performances include Martin Sheen as Uncle Ben and Denis Leary as Captain Stacy. If you’ve noticed that I didn’t mention Sally Field as Aunt May, you are right. While I appreciate Sally Field as a superb actress, she just didn’t seem to fit as a proper Aunt May. Martin Sheen succeeded in capturing Uncle Ben as well as pulling a lot of sympathy for the character. Denis Leary is another actor that captures the essence of his character as a hard-ass, by the book police chief and concerned father of Gwen, Captain Stacy. Upon viewing some of these strong characters, you begin to wonder where some of them disappear to during the movie (well, we know what happens with Uncle Ben).
In conclusion, “The Amazing Spider-Man” seems to take on more than it can handle in the 2 hour and 17 minute running time. The movie tries to pull together the Parker family’s life work and eventual death, Peter Parker’s relationship with Aunt May and Uncle Ben, the beginning of a blossoming relationship with Gwen Stacy, Peter’s high school standpoint, Spider-Man’s creation and first few stints into vigilantism, the degradation of Dr. Curt Conner’s mental status and his fall into becoming the antagonist, The Lizard, and finally the unspoken code of being a big city superhero. While many scenes pull together quite well, other scenes end up leaving a bad taste in your mouth with spouts of awkwardness. Acting performances and many action scenes are superb; however, the way in which the script was written do not allow the actors and overall movie to achieve greatness. “The Amazing Spider-Man” is a good movie that is worth seeing in theaters, but, like me, may not reach some movie goers’ high expectations. Although succeeding in being better than Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 3, I believe that it did not do enough (or did too much) to succeed the first two Spider-Man movies which is what I was hoping for. “The Amazing Spider-Man” is in theaters now.