Friday, July 13, 2012

Movie Review: The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)

The Amazing Spider-Man does a decent job of retelling the same story we've seen before in previous film versions, but it doesn't bother to reinvent anything. It isn't any more serious than Sam Raimi's vision and no less silly either. The action, adventure, and drama are all there, but so are the contrivances, the overabundance of computer animation, and the abysmal villain's ridiculous plan to rule the world. The origins story is rushed at times, but still thorough enough that one would hope for more originality or a different tone. It's more of the same, but if you've been enjoying the repetitious superhero trends of late, there's little reason to skip this one.

When his parents are killed in a plane crash, young Peter Parker goes to live with his Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) and Aunt May (Sally Field). Several years later, now a teenager in high school, Peter (Andrew Garfield) finds a clue in his father's briefcase that leads him to brilliant Oscorp scientist Dr. Curt Connor (Rhys Ifans), a herpetologist devoted to cross-species genetics and its power to cure deformities. Sneaking into an Oscorp intern tour led by his high school crush Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone), Peter spies several of the projects Connor worked on with his father, including genetically altered spiders and their bio-cable manufacturing. When one of the spiders in the lab bites Peter, he rapidly begins to gain increased strength and agility. Initially using his newfound skills only for his own amusement, a tragic loss finds Peter determined to utilize his powers for good. Becoming the masked vigilante "Spider-Man," Peter sets about apprehending criminals, much to the dismay of police captain George Stacy (Denis Leary). But when a vicious reptilian monster begins tearing through New York, Spider-Man becomes the city's only hope against the beast's diabolical plot.

The idea is to revive the Marvel moneymaker - make him more relatable, more heroic, more powerful, more believable, and more iconic. But as much as this new version tries to start over and distance itself from Sam Raimi's highly successful trilogy, enough time just hasn't passed. It's only been five years; special effects haven't improved so drastically that it feels like a completely different superhero, the story hasn't changed to the point of being unrecognizable, and the actors have been switched but essentially play the same, familiar roles. The reboot fails to be original and it fails to achieve its goal of reinvention. Its very existence, other than to sell tickets, is utterly pointless.

Thundering background music bespeaks epic battles and chivalrous deeds. With expected bluntness, the audience is subjected to the school bully picking on Peter, his inevitable comeuppance at the hands of a recently spider-bitten avenger, Peter's aunt and uncle struggling to represent the perfect adoptive family, the curious teen scouring the internet for information on his past, a very forward, persistent, strong-willed blond pursuing the awkward boy, ridiculous exploration in a hi-tech, low-security, multi-million dollar laboratory, the death of a loved one motivating vigilante action, antipathy from the police, a villain with experimental neon fluid dispensed from a painful needle, and quotable, supportive talks of utmost responsibility. The majority of the film is wasted on repetitive origins explanations and introductions, predictable events, obvious foreshadowing, and ludicrously contrived resolutions. There's still comedy from Spider-Man adapting to his sticky fingers and marvelous strength, and this time the acrobatic posing is at an extreme, complimenting the inking from the comics but also managing to be more visually ridiculous onscreen. It's an element not translated well from one medium to the next. They may have added a mechanical webslinger, but it represents the overall collapse of The Amazing Spider-Man - replacing insignificant details with other equally meager items that don't result in an overall product contradistinctive enough to warrant its creation.