Spider-man came out in 2002 and it was awesome. Director Sam Raimi (The Evil Dead, Drag Me to Hell) and Tobey Maguire created a superhero film that was unlike anything people had seen before. It was bright, colorful, effervescent and above all...fun. Now, because Hollywood thinks we can't remember anything past last summer, we have the same movie all over again. The only difference this time around is the cast and the tone. Can making the same movie a little darker and more serious be something that we don't want to bite but end up loving the taste of? Not hardly and I think I wanna spit my bite out.
Director Marc Webb is a relatively untested filmmaker. He's expierenced in music videos and even a few episodes of TV shows but his feature film resume is short, but great. He directed the sleeper hit (500) Days of Summer, which was one of the best romantic comedies since Annie Hall. It wasn't just a great script that made that movie, it was Webb's unique style on it. He was playful, aggressive and cute with his technique. None of that exists in The Amazing Spider-man and it's a huge letdown.
The new Peter Parker is Andrew Garfield (The Social Network) and he's fantastic. He is far better than Maguire and brings a legit sense of tragedy to the character. Although I didn't like the direction they took Peter Parker in this, Garfield does it with soul. Instead of the outcast nerd, this Parker is more like a hipster who everyone is friends with. The rest of the cast excells as well especially having Martin Sheen and Denis Leary join the cast as iconic and new (more authentic) characters from the comic.
The FX are of course much better but just because it's been ten years and technology has advanced. In the 2002 film, the second Spider-man took to the slinging it turned into a cartoon that flew through the brightly colored streets of New York. In Webb's, the slinging is more disjointed and happens in the dark of night. The villain is a character called Lizard and the action sequences between him and Spidey are far more impressive than anything we've seen in the franchise so far.
The problems with the film is that it's boring as hell. The 136-minute-long film feels like it's over three hours and is compounded by 80% of the 3D FX being annoying and not enhancing. The Amazing Spider-man should have taken a page from the playbook the creators of The Incredible Hulk with Edward Norton took. They were unhapy with the Ang Lee 2003 Hulk film so only five years later they wanted to try again. What they did so well was sum the entire backstory of Bruce Banner and how he became Hulk in the opening credits. As if they were saying, "Okay audience...there you go. Everyone caught up? Now let's get one with a new story." The Amazing Spider-man didn't do that. Instead of ushering us to the fun part we showed up for, Webb spends an agonzing 45 minutes rehashing the exact same backstory we not only know but saw ten years ago. C'mon guys! That was a fatal mistake and one that movie doesn't recover from it.
The Amazing Spider-man is definetly better than Spider-man 3, but not better than Spider-man or Spider-man 2. The film feels pointless and an insult to audiences that have finally warmed up to superhero films just to have this sloppy second, re-heated meal served back to them. That being said, The Amazing Spider-man does have two groups that it's perfect for: children under 10 who didn't see the first one and people with short-term memory loss. So if you're an 8-year-old with memory loss, I think I just watched your new favorite movie. The Amazing Spider-man (Rated PG-13)
Gavin Grade: C