Sunday, July 14, 2013

Movie Review: The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)

Stars: 3 out of 5
Pros: Mostly interesting story, great acting all around
Cons: Story still predictable; characters could be deeper
The Bottom Line
Origin story
Good but has been done better
Not that long ago




"Watch Out.  I'm Swinging Here."

I’m not one of those people who insists that all remakes are bad.  I like to at least see them before I decide.  I guess it’s the play lover in me.  Even so, I did think it was a little too early for The Amazing Spider-Man, a film that attempts to set up a new take on the superhero.  But since Spider-Man is one of the few heroes I know anything about outside of the movies (and that’s limited), I was curious enough to see it.  It really doesn’t hold up against the last one.

As a young boy, Peter Park is left with his Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) and Aunt May (Sally Field) right before his parents are killed in an accident.  Years later as a teen, Peter (Andrew Garfield) finds his father’s old brief case that contains information on the project he was working on with Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans).

When Peter tries to meet Dr. Connors, he winds up getting bitten by a radio active spider, a bite that gives him strange powers.  It also brings him into closer contact with Dr. Connors’ assistant, his fellow student Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone).

But when Dr. Connors tries an experiment to use lizard DNA to grow a missing arm back, it turns him into The Lizard, a powerful monster that starts destroying the city.  Can Peter use his new powers as Spider-Man to stop him?

One issue I have with the current glut of super hero movies is the origin story of most of them.  They are so similar as a result even if the details are different.  I can’t help but think about that here since we’ve got another origin story that covers the familiar bases.  On the other hand, tying it back into Peter’s dad was interesting.

My very limited knowledge of Peter Parker includes nothing about Gwen Stacy, but I tried to approach this movie with an open mind as a result.  And you know what?  I do like her.  In fact, I found their budding romance one of the best things in the film.

Likewise, I thought all the acting was great.  The characters felt real to me, and that’s all I truly look for.  It was interesting to see heavy hitters Martin Sheen and Sally Field in this, but they added some depth to their characters that really brought them to life.  And Andrew Garfield had fun delivering the few one-liners he got as Spider-Man.  Note to the writers, give us more of those in the sequel.

On the other hand, the effects needed some work.  Most of the time, I bought them when they involved Peter as Spider-Man.  However, when Dr. Connors turns into The Lizard, it was pretty bad.  We’re talking laughably for 10 years ago bad.  I don’t know how it got approved, to be honest.

Of course, the danger with a remake is that fans will inevitably compare the two, and I couldn’t help but do that as I was watching.  Keep in mind, I loved Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man, so this one had stiff competition.  But I felt the emotional level of the original was better than this one.  While I liked this movie’s Peter and Gwen, they didn’t feel as real to me as Peter and Mary Jane did ten years ago.  This film felt more by the numbers in character development as well as story.

This film isn’t bad, and those looking for another super hero movie will certainly enjoy it.  But The Amazing Spider-Man doesn’t have the emotional gravity to live up to its predecessor.

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