PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):
A young Peter Parker is playing hide-and-seek with his scientist father when he discovers his father’s study has been broken into. His father, Richard, gathers up hidden documents, and Peter’s parents take him to the home of his Aunt May and Uncle Ben then mysteriously depart. Years later, a teenage Peter attends Midtown Science High School, where he is bullied by Flash Thompson and has caught the eye of Gwen Stacy. At home, Peter finds Richard’s papers, and learns his father worked with fellow scientist Dr. Curt Connors at Oscorp. Faking his way into Oscorp as one of a group of high-school interns, Peter sneaks into a lab where extremely strong “biocable” is being created from genetically modified spiders, one of which bites him. On the subway ride home, he is shocked to find strange spider-like abilities manifesting.
After studying Richard’s papers, he visits the one-armed Connors at home, reveals he is Richard Parker’s son, and gives Connors his father’s “decay rate algorithm”, the missing piece in Connors’ experiments on regenerating limbs. Connors is being pressured by his superior, Dr. Ratha, who needs Connors to devise a cure for the dying, unseen head of Oscorp, Norman Osborn.
In school, attempting revenge on Flash, Peter gets in trouble, forcing Uncle Ben to switch a work shift in order to meet with the principal; he tells Peter to pick up May tonight for him. Peter later meets Connors at Oscorp, and, ignoring a call from Ben, sees the limb-regeneration formula work on a laboratory mouse. When Peter returns home, Ben scolds him for having neglected to pick up May. Peter storms off, and Ben goes out to search for him. Peter visits a convenience store, and while arguing with the clerk, a man steals from the till and dashes out. Despite the clerk’s plea, Peter refuses to give chase. The thief runs into Ben, who confronts him: They wrestle over a gun, and Ben is shot. The killer escapes as Peter finds his uncle, who dies in his arms.
Afterward, using a police sketch, Peter uses his new abilities to hunt criminals matching the killer’s description. After a fall lands him inside an abandoned gym, a luchador-wrestling poster inspires him to create a mask to hide his identity. He also adds a spandex suit, and builds mechanical devices to attach on his wrists to fire a biocable ”web”. The mask, suit, and webshooters becomes a matching red-and-blue spider-themed costume. He later accepts a dinner invitation from Gwen and meets her family, including her father, police captain George Stacy. After dinner, Peter and Gwen go to her apartment building’s roof, where he shows her his abilities, and they kiss.
Ratha says Connors must begin human trials immediately if Osborn is to survive. Connors refuses to rush the drug-testing procedure and put innocent subjects at risk. Ratha fires Connors and says he will test Connors’ serum at a Veterans Administration hospital under the guise of flu shots. Connors tries the formula on himself, and, after passing out and awakening, finds his missing arm has regenerated. Learning Ratha is on his way to the VA hospital, Connors, whose skin is growing scaly and green, goes to intercept him. By the time he gets to the traffic-jammed Williamsburg Bridge, Connors has become a hybrid of lizard and man, tossing cars, including Ratha’s, over the side of the bridge. Peter, now calling himself Spider-Man, saves each fallen car with his web-lines.
Spider-Man suspects Connors is the Lizard, and unsuccessfully confronts the Lizard in the sewers. The Lizard learns Spider-Man’s real identity and attacks Peter at school. The police hunt both Spider-Man and the Lizard, with Captain Stacy learning Spider-Man’s real identity. The Lizard plans to make all humans lizard-like by releasing a chemical cloud from Oscorp’s tower. Spider-Man eventually disperses an antidote cloud instead, restoring Connors and earlier victims to normal, but not before the Lizard fatally claws Stacy. The dying Stacy makes Peter promise to keep Gwen safe by staying away from her. Peter initially does so, but later decides to see her after all.
In a scene during the end credits, Connors, in a prison cell, appears to speak with a man who asks if Connors told Peter the truth about his father. Connors replies, “No” and demands Peter be left alone before the man mysteriously vanishes
One of the most heavily anticipated films of this summer has to be The Amazing Spider-Man. The problem with this is that it isn’t a continuation of the Sam Raimi series of films. As a matter of fact, the day before they were set to start filming Spider-Man 4, th studio decided they wanted to rewrite things, which led to this highly unnecessary reboot. Why in the bloody blue hell would you reboot something so soon? Spider-Man 3, despite the rather dismal reviews from fans and critics, is still pretty fresh in most of our minds, as it was just released in 2007.
Before I get into this review, please don’t think that I went into this flick with some kind of prejudice. As far removed from the source material as the Raimi Spider-Man films are, they are enjoyable. However, I am a fan of Spider-Man, and the truth is, my dead goldfish that I had when I was 6 yrs old could come out with a movie starring old webhead and the chances are that I would watch it, after I figure out how he’s managed to make it, let alone come back to life.
So, what did I like?
Parents. With all the superhero films that have been released, the origin story is the Achilles’ heel of them all. There are a few that don’t suffer from these affliction, but this isn’t one of them. We get the same Spider-Man origin we got in Spider-Man, but with a different twist. I did like that they introduced something new in here by telling us a bit about his parents, though I think this more to create questions that anything else.
Lizard. I’m a little torn on the Lizard, but I’m glad that we finally get the chance to see him on the big screen. Nothing against Rhys Ifans, he did a great job as Curt Connors, as a matter of fact, but I think Dylan Baker got the “Billy Dee treatment”. What I’m referring to is how Billy Dee Williams portrayed Harvey Dent in Batman , only to be replaced a couple of films later with Tommy Lee Jones (his contract was bought out, but before that happened there was a stipulation that he was to play Two-Face). That point aside, seeing a somewhat lesser known villain start this franchise leads me to believe that they are taking a page out of the Christopher Nolan book and building up to bigger and better villains, such as Green Goblin (Norman Osborn is hinted at all throughout the film, and Oscorp is the company where Connors works) or Dr. Octopus, though I’m not sure anyone can top Alfred Molina’s performance.
Web shooters. In Spider-Man, we saw Peter Parker shoot webs from his wrists, but it was some kind of biological thing. It actually made more sense that a poor high school kind able to create web shooters on some kind of measly allowance. Not to mention, the wrist web thing doesn’t run out, so it makes sense. However, it is still great to see the web shooters. These are a staple in Spider-Man lore, after all.
What didn’t I like?
Reboot. There was no need to reboot this!
3D. I actually paid the extra rented sunglass price to see this, and was highly disappointed. The trailers looked like they were going to make brilliant use of the 3D, but the fact is, they didn’t do anything with it. The only thing that used it was the trailer for Wreck-It Ralph!
Lizard. I’ve already discussed what I liked about the guy. On the flipside, though, I was not a fan of the design. I may be spoiled by seeing him portrayed in the comics and cartoons, but it seems to be that he needed to have a snout. I could accept the human face before the full on mutation, but there comes a point where he needs to be a giant lizard! The director has been quoted as saying he wanted him to look human. Yes, you read right…the Lizard was supposed to look human. I just don’t know how to even respond to that.
Youth. They made a valiant effort to influx youth into the film. I could care less about that, except for the fact that, if you’re going to do that, then get some actors that are the right age and not nearly 30 playing teenagers! That’s not the worst part, though. Sally Field, who I have a tremendous amount of respect and admiration for, just looked too young to be Aunt May. She’s always looked young (a little less so in recent years), but Aunt May is quite aged, for lack of a better term. They could have done better.
Investment. I’ve been reading and hearing reviews that have said that they really felt the connection between Garfield and Stone. I just didn’t see it. For me, it was just like any other actor and actress up there on the screen. I saw nothing special.
Romance. So, apparently, the filmmakers felt the need to really put the focus on the romance between Peter and Gwen, rather than give us lots of Spidey. Yeah, that was a stroke of genius, lemme tell ya.
Peter Parker. There has been some debate as to what people think of Peter. Personally, I didn’t care for him. First off, Andrew Garfield should not be playing Peter Parker. He doesn’t have the chops to do it, but because The Social Network was so critically acclaimed, he got the job. Second, Peter Parker is supposed to be likable at least, if not lovable. Instead, he’s kind of a douche. Parker is a social outcast nerd. That is not seen anywhere in this film. When he gets his powers, he doesn’t go flaunting them getting himself expelled, either. Finally, as Spider-Man, he’s supposed to crack jokes and be funny. This guy is not that. I complained that Tobey didn’t make enough jokes, and he didn’t, but this guy should stop trying because the jokes aren’t funny and he’s just coming off as a douchebag! Whatever happened to our “friendly neighborhood Spider-Man?”
Keep the mask on. One of the biggest frustrations for me is when actors, who are cast as superheroes, randomly take their mask off just so we can see their face. Look, we know who you are and there are plenty of scenes that show your face. Get over it and keep the damn thing on. They really need to go read a Spider-Man comic and see how many times he takes his mask off. It is rarely, if any. This begs to question why they felt the need to do it here.
Change. I give this film credit for being a little more faithful to the source material, but the things that were changed seemed as if they were changed just because they can do it. For example, Peter is supposed to be bitten by a radioactive spider. This is a big thing that changes his life, and yet, they don’t really say anything about it, but rather go back to shoving Gwen Stacy down our throats. Second, when he first gets his powers, he wrestles under the name Spider-Man. They don’t do that here, but while he is tracking down Uncle Ben’s killer, he falls through the roof into some abandoned wrestling ring. WTF?!?
Potter. With this whole missing parents angle they were using, they kept alluding, at least early on, to the way he resembles his father. I was half expecting someone to say he had his mother’s eyes! Peter Parker is not Harry Potter! Get a new idea, people!!!
Suit. I was watching the credits at the end and saw that this suit was designed by Cirque du Soleil. Ok, no problem with that. Personally, I think there is a bit too much blue on it and it looks more like latex. The thing to remember is that Spider-Man’s costume is made by a high school kid who sewed it together, not a quilt that his adopted Earth mom turned into a uniform! Still, I’m glad it doesn’t have that weird cage webbing that Tobey Maguire’s Spidey suit had. Also, I wasn’t a fan of the sunglasses that we sewn in there. It makes him look more alien than anything else.
Pacing. This film has 3 stages of pacing. The first is the ungodly slow beginning that just seems to drag on. I actually was more interested in seeing how many people were in the theater texting than the first half of this film. Then we get the meat of the flick, where it picks up and you realize that this is a summer action flick. Finally, we get the last act, which seems to be nothing more than some random scenes sloppily thrown together to make and ending, and not a good one. At least the post-credits scene adds some intrigue and mystery, as well as sets up a sequel (trilogy).
The Amazing Spider-Man is anything but that. I had a hard time getting excited to see this from the minute it was announced, but the past couple of years, films I’ve been not excited about have gone on to be the best of the year. I’m pretty sure that won’t be the case this year, though. I won’t say you shouldn’t see this film, because it is a good picture, but it pales in comparison to the pinnacle of Spider-Man films, Spider-Man 2, and doesn’t live up to all the hype they’ve thrown at us. I guess what I’m trying to say is that if you go in this with low expectations, that you’ll enjoy it, but the minute you start thinking this is going to be the greatest film of all time, disappointment will set in big time. For those of you superhero flick fans, fear not, we all know that The Avengers was awesome and The Dark Knight Rises is just around the corner, ready to wash any bad taste out of your mouth.
3 3/4 out of 5 stars