Sunday, July 8, 2012

The Amazing Spider-Man just felt ordinary

When you entirely reboot a movie franchise after the previous film came out only five years before, you better make it different enough so that it doesn't remind us too much like the previous first movie. As it is, The Amazing Spider-Man is sorta, kinda, pretty much the same movie as the 2002 Spider-Man just with different actors, slightly altered storylines, a new love interest and villain.

Being forced to watch a second origin story of one superhero in ten years can be quite the chore especially if you pretty much know what to expect. This makes evaluating The Amazing Spider-Man much tougher. As a stand-alone, does the origin story work? For the most part, yes. But they wanted to reboot the Spider-Man franchise because Spider-Man 3 sucked, not because of the first two. The first two Spider-Man movies of the 2000s were actually pretty good. Having said that, I was still interested in watching The Amazing Spider-Man to see what the differences were and while they introduce interesting new storylines for Peter Parker, it was frustrating to see the majority of them go to waste.

As it begins, Peter Parker's primary focus is trying to figure out what happened to his parents. When he was a kid, his mother and father left Peter to Uncle Ben and Aunt May. Now a teenager, Peter understandably has questions about the whereabouts of his parents. His curiosity ultimately leads him to Dr. Curt Connors who works as a scientist at OsCorp. Connors had worked with Peter's father a number of years ago as they were doing research on cross-species permutation (or something to that effect, not too familiar with scientific terminology). It's not long after Peter introduces himself to Dr. Connors that they start working together on experiments... forgetting about the whereabouts of Peter's parents altogether.

It's as if, throughout the film's running time, they introduce plot points only to abandon them when something "more interesting" comes along which does little to justify its 136-minute running time. Especially considering the fact that for a superhero film, there isn't all that much action. For the most part, Spider-Man seems outmatched and overpowered by The Lizard (who is what Dr. Connors becomes after a failed experiment on himself) and the action scenes just feel run-of-the-mill with very little suspense involved. It's not that I'm asking for more action, it's just that when you're going to provide some, you better make it thrilling to watch. The first Iron Man had very little action, but what it had to show was pretty fucking cool. The Amazing Spider-Man had very little to show for itself for a reboot except for updated technology.

That's not entirely true, actually. The acting in The Amazing Spider-Man is, more-or-less, an improvement over the Raimi films. Andrew Garfield captures the youthful spirit more than Tobey Maguire and Emma Stone is a more fun female lead than Kirsten Dunst. But, even though The Lizard was an improvement looks-wise over The Green Goblin, Rhys Ifans can't really hold a candle to Willem Dafoe, from an acting standpoint. As a scientist, Ifans as Dr. Connors was pretty much on-point, but as a villain? He wasn't quite there. Willem Dafoe always had that gift of giving off creepy vibes even when he's acting extremely nice so, comparatively speaking, that kinda puts Rhys Ifans at a disadvantage.

While The Amazing Spider-Man was better, in some respects, to the 2002 Spider-Man, it also did some things worse. This begs the question: why even bother with a reboot at all? And honestly, are superhero origin films all that fun? Except for Iron Man, which learned that if you're going to spend most of the time with the origin story then you better make it fun to watch, watching how a superhero gets his powers has just become tiresome for me because there have been so many damn superhero movies over the last decade. Even with all that riding against it, The Amazing Spider-Man still could've justified its existence if it wasn't so all over the place, plot-wise.

I knew that after watching 500 Days of Summer, which I loved, that Marc Webb would do great with the love story and the high school scenes. He delivered there. But I was worried about how he was going to deal with the action and the more convoluted story lines; it looks like my worries were justified. Overall, The Amazing Spider-Man is really just your average by-the-numbers superhero origin story. I won't hold my breath for the sequel.

Grade: C

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