Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Amazing Spider-Man - Not So Amazing

One of the best superhero movies I have seen is Spider-Man. It has a great story, good casting, and plenty of memorable moments and action scenes. After this movie became a trilogy, a reboot called The Amazing Spider-Man was announced for this year following (if I'm right) creative differences. From what I have heard about it in the time before its release, I decided to give it a try. After having just seen it, I can say that, compared to the original 2002 movie, it isn't all that spectacular.

Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) is a photographer at Midtown Science High School who is often the victim of Flash Thompson's (Chris Zylka) bullying. After Peter gets home to his Aunt May (Sally Field) and Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen), he assists Ben with cleaning out a flooded basement. In the process, Peter comes across some science work in a case hidden by his deceased father, leading him to do some research into OsCorp, where his father worked. The next day, he gets into OsCorp under a false identity, taking a tour with a group of interns for Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans), where he learns of research involving animal DNA. Breaking off from the group, he gets into a room where spiders are creating a special webbing, but soon leaves when he disrupts their work. Once he leaves the room, he feels one of the spiders bite him, changing him over time.

Before I talk about what I think of the story, I would like to discuss a couple other things about the overall product. As far as the music goes, I thought it actually helped the movie pretty well regarding the tonality of the events on screen. James Horner's score isn't exactly on the level of Danny Elfman's, who scored the original Spider-Man movie, but it still manages to do its job nicely. By itself, the acting for this reboot is also pretty good. You can really sense the chemistry between Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone), as well as the relationships each of them has with their respective families. However, The Lizard, the antagonist of this movie, doesn't have the same level of intimidation that the Green Goblin did in the original, but on his own he comes off as an okay villain.

The story as a whole is very contrived and oftentimes too convenient, like some things are included because it could be, even if it doesn't make sense. For instance, there's a point early on where Peter is being chased by a group of thugs, during which Peter crawls up a wall with his spider powers to escape, only for the thugs to have magically teleported to the top of the building where Peter ended up (also during this scene, Peter Parker is more like Peter Parkour than Spider-Man most of the time). There's also the fact that Peter's father's work was in the basement, yet somehow it was not discovered by anyone until there was a small flood. Trying to go into any greater detail about the story would create massive spoilers for anyone who hasn't seen the movie yet, so I'm going to stop right here.

Another thing about this movie requires a comparison to the original film. It seems that, while a reboot, The Amazing Spider-Man is attempting to touch upon all the basic points of the first Spider-Man, since they are both origin stories, while taking a different approach. This isn't a bad idea, but the way it is handled ends up creating less of an impact with certain pivotal scenes than in the first one. For example, the death of Uncle Ben is an important event in Spider-Man's origin, so naturally it is included. However, whereas in the first movie there is an emotional scene after Ben is killed by someone Peter let run free after a robbery at a wrestling event (later retconned in Spider-Man 3), the scene is changed so that Ben is killed by someone that Peter let run free after a petty robbery, creating less of an impact in the long run; the scene is set up such that Ben's death seems to be more his own fault and not more so Peter's.

One last item I would like to touch upon is that this movie sets up a lot of things that are often left hanging, sometimes almost literally. There are several things that the movie stops to put focus on, such as a mark of blood or Peter's photography skills, that go absolutely nowhere and seem entirely pointless. During the movie there is also a subplot of Peter, as Spider-Man, trying to find the one that murdered his uncle, but by the end this is never resolved, which really bothered me. Also, there is a particular effect right before the credits that actually gets cut off, made even more disappointing when viewed in 3D.

The Amazing Spider-Man is not the Spider-Man reboot I was hoping for, given the hype surrounding it. It tries to touch on all the necessary points that the original movie made, but in the end it all falls apart. If you are a fan of the Spider-Man movies and are curious about this reboot, and/or you have kids who want to see it, I would suggest checking it out once, but otherwise this seems more like a movie to wait on for a cheap rental. However, if you are one that enjoys watching comic book movies, maybe this one will hold you over until The Dark Knight Rises.

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