I am still not convinced that I will ever truly be a fan of reboots. It always seems to me as though it's nothing more than Hollywood continuing to be uncreative while simultaneously attempting to fleece us for more money. That being said, it must work because I'm sure I wasn't the only one stupid enough to buy into it for this latest Marvel reboot. Well played, Hollywood. Well played.
In this latest Spidey update 'The Amazing Spider-Man", Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) is on a mission to discover why his parents mysteriously disappeared when he was younger. During the process, he uncovers some dangerous secrets at Oscorp that gives him more than he bargained for. Including the infamous spider bite that makes him Spider-Man and inadvertently helping Dr. Connors (Rhys Ifans) turn into the Lizard. Oh yeah...meanwhile, Parker is struggling with how to win over his crush Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone).
Having never been a huge Spider-Man fan, I couldn't tell you how true to the story they were with this version. I do recall that Gwen Stacy was the original romantic interest before Mary Jane so that seemed pretty accurate. But I never recall Peter's dad being eluded to as being some type of spy? I had read somewhere that was an alternate storyline for Spider-Man. That's all fine and good but if they were going to go that route then the least they could have done is had it consistent with the rest of the movie instead of rehashing so much of the same plot from the first Spidey movie we saw a decade ago.
The problems I had with this one were numerous. Starting foremost with the casting. We might as well go in on Gwen first. I always hated that the other Spidey films had Kirsten Dunst as Mary Jane. Dunst is just not a very good actress and was too stiff for that role. As much as I like Stone as an actress, she didn't fit the Stacy part. The comics (and even cartoons) depict Stacy as having a bit of a Cover Girl look to her but yet down-to-earth personality. Stone had the personality part right. The look? Not so much. There's just nothing glamorous about her. She always looks like a girl who was once a tomboy and is trying to reform but just can't make the breakthrough to full on girly girl.
Then there Dr. Connors. I still have no clue who Rhys Ifans is. They would have been much better to carry over Dr. Connors from the original series when Dylan Baker portrayed him in a cameo of sorts. At least that one was more charismatic. Ifans version had me rather ambivalent. And it certainly didn't help that the special effects on him once he became the Lizard just weren't very good at all. It looked like it was done by the folks that do the made for SyFy movies. There definitely should have been more time and effort invested in it.
And finally Spidey/Peter Parker himself. As far as build is concerned, Garfield was probably a closer fit than a buffed Tobey Maguire. Spidey always had more of the lanky frame that Garfield has. However, I just couldn't get past the fact that everytime I saw Garfield asll I could see was the co-creator of Facebook. It probably didn't help that I've seen "The Social Network" so many times that I can recite entire segments. So unfortunately for him he is more believable to me as a computer geek than he is as a superhero.
The pace of "Amazing Spider-Man" didn't work for me either. They took entirely too long to get to the point where he actually became Spider-Man. There was no need for all that build up either. After four Spidey movies, we get it. They could have found a way to get to that sooner. Then when they did, his transition from being awkward clumsy with his powers to being proficient with them wasn't near as interesting as it was in the first film. And this is coming from someone who wasn't particularly a fan of the first Spidey film.
The one thing I will give them credit for is the darker tone they tried to convey with this update. It's as though they were trying to appeal to an older audience. Like maybe they saw how successful "The Dark Knight" was with that type of mood and they wanted to emulate it while still staying somewhat true to the Spidey theme. They partially succeeded. But there was just too much else going wrong for it that turned me off.
If you're a diehard Spidey fan, you will probably find more redeeming qualities in "The Amazing Spider-Man" than I did. If you're just your standard superhero movie fan then this one will probably be just "eh". If you're an action film junkie and thinking this could be a good fit then you could easily do better. As far as I'm concerned "Spider-Man 2" clearly remains the best Spidey entry in the franchise hands down.
My rating: C+