Jul 3, 2012

The Amazing Spider-Man (2012): B-

Though arguably unnecessary as far as reboots go (coming just five years after Spider-Man 3's fallout), The Amazing Spider-Man is as much a loose remake of the 2002 blockbuster as it is a virtual carbon copy of every other superhero origins story to grace the multiplex screens this past decade. Director Marc Webb ((500) Days of Summer) brings a levity and swagger to the proceedings that manages to avoid direct competition with its predecessor, and it'd be unfair to slander it simply on the basis of existing as a result of essentially greedy business practices. (I, for one, was livid when the plug was first pulled on Spider-Man 4, but so it goes.) That said, those films' strengths can't help but highlight this one's relative shortcomings. The webslinging is technically better looking this time around (a decade of CGI advancements will do that), but Webb's visuals simply can't compare to previous helmer Sam Raimi's knack for crafting the iconic (although Peter's use of his web before a first kiss counts as a small stroke of genius); whenever the film isn't being kinetic, its compositions tend to register as flaccid and monotonous. Similarly, while I saw the film in 2D, it seems poorly suited for the 3D mandate that ultimately caused Raimi to walk. Whatever the dimension, the action scenes sporadically want for a sense of continuity (the subway scene in particular is an editorial mess), whether for lack of proper coverage or simply a poor grasping of action movie mechanics. Where the film gets its energy, then, is in the performances: Andrew Garfield (The Social Network) as an appropriately cocky, sympathetic Peter Parker/Spidey and Emma Stone (The Help) as love interest Gwen Stacy make for a delightful leading duo with enough chemistry to make one hope we get to see them share screen time together under different circumstances. Amongst the supporting players, Martin Sheen is a standout in the pivotal role of Uncle Ben. Webb's talent for capturing idiosyncratic moments (the alarm clock bit is tops) almost compensates for the numerous deficiencies of the script, amongst them Peter's hard-to-buy, effortless infiltration of a high security lab, and an overall lack of narrative friction. There's not much in the way of an ebb or flow to the drama, and while it's a breezy and enjoyable two hours, unlike the best of this still burgeoning genre, there's almost nothing to take home with you after the lights go up.


  1. Give the film another look. I only saw it once, but something that struck me (perhaps because I'd just endured the visual clusterf--k of "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter") was how well-choreographed, well framed, and well-edited the fight scenes were. The notable exception was the early subway scene, but I think that was deliberately "Greengrassy" to convey the confusion of a guy who just woke up on a subway and is instantly overwhelmed by his heightened sensory perception and reflexive physical capability. The later scenes between Spider-Man and the Lizard are MUCH more coherently filmed.

    Unrelated note... any chance you'll be posting a review of "Dark Knight Rises" to accompany it's A-minus rating?

  2. I already did, Max, and I was rather bored to tears, which is not to say I found the movie bad, simply that, having already seen it, and possibly without the enthusiasm of a midnight release crowd to help pump me up, there was nothing left to satisfy that which I go to the movies for. The many talents and strengths behind it are almost completely negated by my impression that everyone on board feels like a for-hire. Where's the passion? My inner child was wandering the desert of recycled plotlines and meaningless digital trickery, and sadly, the only performer in the film who really made me feel anything, dies early on (Mr. Leary's characters, on the other hand, never die soon enough).

    I'd very much like to write something up on The Dark Knight Rises, but that's going to have to wait for at least a second viewing.