THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN
Genre: Superhero/Comic Book/Action
Premise: High school student Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) gets bitten by a radioactive spider and develops super powers. He takes to fighting crime, while figuring out the mystery behind his parents' disappearance/death, romancing Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone), and taking on a formidable foe in a mutated scientist called the Lizard (Rhys Ifans).
Behind-the-Scenes: Sound familiar? After Sam Raimi and Tobey Maguire hit a creative and critical wall with Spider-Man 3, Sony decided to reboot the franchise from scratch, origin story and all. 50 Days of Summer's Marc Webb directs.
The Good: The Spidey swinging through the air scenes are vastly improved here. They look more realistic, with the camera swooping in, on and around Spidey, and provide the movie's only visual thrill. Real-life couple Garfield and Stone have great chemistry, and sell the Peter-Gwen relationship, making us forget all about Mary Jane. Even better are the scenes between Denis Leary (as Mr. Stacy) and Garfield, where they debate the merits of a vigilante crime fighter.
The Bad: Everything else. The first hour is a totally useless rehash of the '02 Spider-Man. It's yet another origin story - one we've seen before and not too long ago - and though the screenwriters infuse some slightly different beats, the major story points are all the same. Spider-Man himself doesn't appear on screen until the hour mark, and the story is not compelling enough to keep you entertained until then. The second half of the movie focuses more on the Lizard, and that also fails because the Lizard is a lame-ass villain. He's no Doc Ock, that's for sure. There are the obligatory CGI fights between Spidey and Lizard, but what's truly "amazing" about this Spider-Man is how little you care about any of it. If Sony wanted to reboot Spider-Man, fine - get rid of the original cast, and just pick up with Parker as Spider-Man and hit the ground running. Audiences would instantly accept Garfield in the role (he's quite good, and different than Tobey Maguire), and we could get some fresh, exciting new Spider-Man stories on screen. The contempt for the audience is apparent here. Webb is highly competent and doesn't really make any missteps, but he lacks the unique vision to pull off this reboot. One of the more disappointing movies of the year.
Should You See It?: Sadly, no. Garfield and Stone are well cast, but save your money for the sequel, which hopefully will have a fresher story.
Rating: ** out of 5 stars.