Stop me if you've heard this one before: An unpopular, nerdy high-school boy gets bitten by a genetically enhanced spider, develops super powers, and…
Huh? Stop already?
Nope. Sony Pictures doesn't know when to stop, and so neither do I. On with the obligatory review!
Apparently, the reason we "need" another Spider-Man reboot (and a remake of the origin story at that) only 10 years down the road is: Sony Pictures suits didn't want the rights to revert back to Marvel Comics and so the reasons are all but artistic expression, a desire to tell the story in a new way, or to do much else other than go through the motions.
Cynical, but true.
Now, is the movie really all that bad? No. A bit bland, yes. Bad, no. Here's the deal. We all know the story, so far be it from me to rehash it. If there's a different spin to all this, it's in the filmmakers and players themselves.
Director Marc Webb (rim-shot!) has heretofore only crafted one beautiful, character-driven, visually thoughtful indie feature (500 Days of Summer). Star Andrew Garfield has pretty much only been in smart, thoughtful films (the Red Riding trilogy; Terry Gilliam's The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus; David Fincher's The Social Network). Co-stars are better known for their thought-provoking comedy (Denis Leary and Rhys Ifans).
The Spidey newbie who's done the widest variety of things is young Emma Stone — and yet, she's miscast. Her natural redhead spunky fiery pizzazz and style is actually a great fit for punk-rock grrrrrl Gwen Stacy as she's portrayed in the comic but in The Amazing Spider-Man, she's bland-blonde and relegated the "the girlfriend role." Stone deserves better.
It's hard to say whether science fiction and horror fans will think much of Ifans as the villain. The actor is fine, but the creature he becomes just isn't scary. For one, er, thing, the look reminded me far too much of The Thing from the Fantastic Four franchise. Unlike, say, Willem Dafoe as The Green Goblin, The Lizard simply isn't all that menacing.
Where the movie excels, aside from the appropriately dazzling CG and 3D, is in its ironic humor. Garfield is funny. Having said that, I've got to add he is probably less-believable than Maguire in the role. Though the two actors played Peter Parker, high school student, at roughly the same age, Garfield looks his 28 years and it's difficult as a viewer to stumble beyond that. But the actor's able to do a little smoke and mirrors magic thanks to his likability and is leaps and bounds beyond Meh-guire when it comes to the snarky aside. (And speaking of snarky… Leary is a wicked word-whiz! As far as I am concerned, he's the best thing in the film.)
An end-credits zinger sets up a sequel. (Nope, no one cares if you've heard this one before. And before.)
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Reviewed by Staci Layne Wilson