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The Amazing Spider-Man – review

The Amazing Spider-Man PosterWhen I first heard that Sam Raimi was not coming back to direct Spider-Man 4, and the franchise was going to be re-booted a mear 10 years after it’s original conception, I felt it was one of the dumbest things I’ve ever heard of.  Why in the world would you re-boot a franchise that basically had just begun?

The original Spider-Man is one of the 5 best comic book films of all time, and Spider-Man 2 isn’t far behind at all.  Spider-Man 3…well it’s an embarrassment to the entire franchise, but that doesn’t mean a 4th film could be without merit.  Re-booting though already?  Why?  I feared the worst for my most beloved comic book character of all time, and guess what?  The Amazing Spider-Man turns out to be everything I feared it was going to be, and then some.

Andrew Garfield steps in to the role of our spider bitten hero Peter Parker.  Now don’t get me wrong, I think Garfield is a tremendous actor.  He was brilliant in The Social Network, and absolutely “amazing” in The Red Riding Trilogy, but stepping in to Tobey Maguire’s shoes is no easy feat, and he kind of has a hard time doing it.  He plays Parker as a more of a hipster/photographer, than a true nerd.  Mary-Jane Watson is replaced with Gwen Stacey, Peter’s very first love interest, played by Emma Stone.  Emma is cute and sweet at times, but the chemistry between her and Garfield comes nowhere near that of Maguire and Dunst.

The film opens with a little glimpse in to Parkers parents life, but the film soon abandons any connection to what could have been a great sub-plot.  The first hour of the film is then an almost scene by scene re-telling of the original film.  I just didn’t see the point at all.    We need the back-story again that badly?  We’ve seen it all before.  We’ve seen it all done better. Now we have to see it all again?

The Green Goblin is now substituted by The Lizard (one of the worst CGI jobs I’ve seen in a long time).  Rhys Ifans plays The Lizard/Dr. Conners who is working to create a cross species serum that will help people grow brain cells, or limbs, or some other stupid thing like that.  The Lizard gets out of control and Spider-Man needs to stop him before he destroys New York City.  Really?  This plot again?  We then get caught up in some bad action scenes, followed by cheesy dialogue, and a bunch of other long and drawn out scenes that made me want to get up and leave the theater.  I didn’t think it could get any worse until I was treated to a Footloose-esque warehouse dance scene in which Peter tackles his new powers.  I was waiting for The Best Around from the Karate Kid soundtrack to start playing at any moment.

I don’t undertand why Webb couldn’t have made a more contemporary version of Spider-Man without going all the way back to the same exact territory the original film operated in.  The Spider-Man comic books have been coming up with stories for what, 60+ years?  You couldn’t find some original idea amongst the enormous back-catalog?

There comes a period of about four minutes near the end of the film where Gwen and Peter interact, and it’s so sweet, and heart-breaking, yet a little bit hopeful as well.  It’s everything that director Marc Webb did right in his last film 500 Days of Summer, which was one of the best films of 2009.  Unfortunately it’s the only four endearing minutes in the entire film.  The rest of the film is so focused on being a “Summer Blockbuster”, or a “Big Budget Franchise Re-Boot!”, that it completely loses touch with that great aspect of the film.  It’s the saddest factor of the film.  I’m sure Webb’s hands were a little tied here, but he abandons everything that could have made this film so much more.

And they just green-lit two more films I hear…yipp—-y….

Grade: D