AMAZING SPIDER MAN, THE
(director: Marc Webb; screenwriters: James Vanderbilt/Alvin Sargent/Steve Kloves/based on a story by Mr. Vanderbilt and the Marvel comic book by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko; cinematographer: John Schwartzman; editors: Alan Edward Bell/Pietro Scalia; music: James Horner; cast: Andrew Garfield (Spider-Man/Peter Parker), Emma Stone (Gwen Stacy), Rhys Ifans (the Lizard/Dr. Curt Connors), Denis Leary (Captain Stacy), Campbell Scott (Richard Parker), Irrfan Khan (Rajit Ratha), Embeth Davidtz (Mary Parker), Chris Zylka (Flash Thompson), Martin Sheen (Uncle Ben), Sally Field (Aunt May); Runtime: 136; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producers: Laura Ziskin/Avi Arad/Matt Tolmach; Columbia Pictures; 2012)
“British actor Andrew Garfield replaces Tobey Maguire and makes for a twitchy and charming Spidey.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
British actor Andrew Garfield replaces Tobey Maguire and makes for a twitchy and charming Spidey. Director Marc Webb(“500 Days of Summer”) replaces Sam Raimi and makes for a less capable helmer replacement with his uninspired, dumbed down and at times dull reboot adapted from a Stan Lee and Steve Ditko comic book created fifty years ago. It was stiffly shot, was edited in a choppy way, and though it tried hard to get the viewer weepie-eyed a few times it never convincingly reached the heart. Luckily the two young leads, Garfield and romantic interest Emma Stone, are appealing and take up most of the film, or else little about this rehashed pic would be amazing. It’s weakly written with putrid dialogue by James Vanderbilt, Alvin Sargent, and Steve Kloves, and with only old timer Sargent a holdover from the other Spidey scripts.
In this 3D version of Spider-Man, it traces the 17-year-old nerdy skateboarder photographer brilliant science student at Midtown Science High School named Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) and clues us in via flashback about his secretive scientist dad (Campbell Scott) and loving mom (Embeth Davidtz), who both mysteriously vanished forever one day when on the lam from some unknown danger when he was a child. It tells how Peter was raised by his good-natured Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) and sweet Aunt May (Sally Field) and again tells how a spider bite from no ordinary spider, but one that was radioactive, at the controversial Oscorpbiochemical research lab run by his fathers one-armed former colleague Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans) gave Peter supernatural power (such as the ability to climb skyscrapers like a spider, enormous strength and an ability to trap criminals by unleashing spider webs). Peter then decided to use that power to fight crime in NYC as a vigilante and also get even with the school bully who bothered him.
In high school, the brainy science whiz, Peter Parker, gets picked on by the school bully (Chris Zylka) but still manages to hook up in the school hallways with the bright and sexy Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone). Her gung-ho law and order advocate dad (Denis Leary) is a no-nonsense police captain in midtown Manhattan, who has reservations about Spider-Man helping the city as a crime-fighter. Meanwhile Uncle Ben and Aunt May are unaware that Peter is the newspaper headline grabbing Spider-Man helping the police collar car thieves and the like, and the guardian’s concern for the kid’s strange behavior of late leads to tragedy. The gist of the story is when Peter discovers Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans), who researched with his dad in far-out experimental bio-engineering projects with spiders, and he meets him in his secret lab but soon discovers he has become a mad scientist trying to regrow his arm and in the process hasturned himself into a monster giant lizard threatening the destruction of the city with biochemical germ warfare. Thereby Peter puts on his spandex superhero costume, with his mask inspired by a Mexican wrestling poster, and fights the sewer-dwelling lizard villain.
The story was predictable, but the action scenes were fairly well-choreographed (especially that one on the traffic-jammed Williamsburg Bridge), the visuals were easy on the eyes and the big-budget popcorn blockbuster thriller was mindless but, nevertheless, reasonably entertaining as a fun film. It’s a critic-proof summer treat, that should do well in the box office despite being an unnecessary remake of a story that was already done decent enough ten years ago.
REVIEWED ON 7/4/2012 GRADE: B-