Posted on 11/11/12 10:47 AM
So we all know the story. Timid teen, Peter Parker, while on a school outing, is bitten by a radioactive spider and transformed into the wisecracking, web slinging hero, Spider-Man. Just ten years after the first of Sam Raimi's trilogy was released in theaters (and five years after the third, less loved one was released) Sony has decided to reboot the franchise and give audiences The Amazing Spider-Man. How does this "fresh" new outing stack up?
The story this time around is pretty much the same as the first, the key differences being that now there is an overarching mystery involving Peter's missing (or dead) parents, and Kirsten Dunst's Mary Jane has been replaced by Emma Stone's Gwen Stacy. Other than that this movie touches on just about all the same beats that Sam Raimi did back in 2002.
The cast is truly (well, mostly) inspired. Andrew Garfield was a great pick for the titular Peter/Spidey, likewise Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy. The special effects this time around are top notch, not nearly as cartoony looking as they were in the Raimi trilogy. I found the web slinging particularly well done. What else? After all the cock-teasing in the first three films, the Lizard was finally on screen, though he's never referred to as such.
And that's about as much praise as I can think to heap upon this film's shoulders. While the cast looks great, they are given very little to work with. Peter this time around is more emo than nerd. Director Marc Webb shows his strength at helming angst driven leads (see his directorial debut, Days of Summer), but this is a superhero film, not a teen drama. Peter skateboards around school, sits with his head down in class, stammers worse than the lovechild of Kristen Stewart and Shia LaBeouf, and never passes up an opportunity to mouth off to authority figures. This isn't the likeable, shy, responsibility burdened Peter Parker of the comics (or even the first movie). This is some dick teenager.
The filmmakers got Emma Stone to look like Gwen Stacy, right down to the skirt and knee high boots. But she never rises above generic love interest #67. Martin Sheen is cast to play one of the most important characters in the Spider-Man mythos, but his story is so thoroughly glossed over that they might as well have cut it out all together. Sally Fields is equally as peripheral as Aunt May. Rhys Ifans plays Curt Conners aka The Lizard, and besides being the film's villain there isn't anything to say about him. And Dennis Leary... poor, underused Dennis Leary...
I'm not a fan of the Raimi Spider-Man films but this movie actually made me miss those. Campy as they were, it cannot be denied that they were fun. This movie feels so joyless and corporate. It's Spider-Man for heaven's sake. Where's the whimsy? Where's the fun? The film is so brooding and miserable, yet features a giant talking lizard-man and a kid swinging around in bright blue and red tights. They can cast Jamie Foxx in their movie if they want, but unless Sony announces that they've replaced Marc Webb with a better director (and get rid of screenwriter James Vanderbilt while your at it Sony) they can count me out for the sequel.