Big Screen Ballyhoo – “The Amazing Spider-Man”

Yes, this review is super late. Yes, the movie came out in the summer. No, I didn’t watch it in theaters.

Yes, I’m very glad I didn’t.

“The Amazing Spider-Man,” a reboot of a franchise whose most recent film came out only five years ago, was directed this time by Marc Webb, whose only previous feature film directing credit is “(500) Days of Summer,” which I admittedly have never seen. I heard a lot of people say it was good. And maybe he should stick with that type of film, because boy oh boy did this movie have problems.

The movie is about the awkwardly nerdy teenager Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield). This movie covers, slightly, some of the story as to how he ends up living with and being raised by his Aunt May (Sally Field) and Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen), which is new, but doesn’t get too deep a treatment. The story of their disappearance is mystery to both Parker and the audience. Anyway, as most everyone knows, Peter Parker gets bitten by a radioactive spider. Well, in this movie I think it’s just a genetically manipulated spider as part of ongoing experiments to create cross-species genetic integrations and do things like use lizard DNA to heal amputees.

But it’s basically radioactive.

Then Parker, given all this power and being a bullied teenager, gets cocky and goofs off with the power, starts shirking responsibilities, et cetera, and eventually gets his Uncle Ben killed by not stopping a criminal he could’ve easily stopped, all for immensely selfish and petty reasons. This shakes Parker’s world up pretty bad, so he goes on a bit of a revenge kick, trying to find the guy that killed his uncle. But that’s his night job. For his day job, besides going to high school, he decides to find out what happened to his parents. Which is how he ended up getting bitten in the first place. His father worked closely with Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans) before his disappearance. Connors and Parker’s dad worked on those genetically manipulated animals, and Parker’s father created the spider that bit him. Parker’s classmate Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) works for Dr. Connors, and her interest in Parker is piqued during Parker’s first visit to the lab. So they end up dating. Which is fun because Stacy’s dad (Denis Leary) is chief of police, I believe, and is totally on the hunt for Spider-Man. Oh, and Parker totally reveals his secret identity to her basically when asking her out.

Peter’s not the brightest of superheros, we will discover.

Parker also ends up supplying Dr. Connors with an equation found hidden in his father’s stuff, which makes Connors believe he’s finalized the formula for the lizard DNA thing. It’s important to Connors, being that he’s missing an arm. And that some sort of mobster guy (Irrfan Khan) is pressuring him, greatly, to finish his work. When mobster guy threatens to give the untested formula to hospitalized veterans and tells Connors he’s fired, Connors tries the formula himself in a moment of desperation. And it works! Until he turns into Reptile.

Once Reptile reveals himself to the world, Parker realizes he has to do the right thing and put the revenge for Uncle Ben thing on hold to take down the big scary green dude. So all that stuff happens.

Honestly, the reboot was annoying enough. I think, if Sony hadn’t meddled with what Sam Raimi wanted to do, “Spider-Man 3” could have been so much better and we could’ve kept making those movies. What’s really irksome is that Garfield and Stone probably make better versions of Peter Parker and Mary Jane (different character, yes, but Stacy wasn’t really a big deal in the other movies) than Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst did, though I really liked the first two Spider-Man movies. But this Spider-Man film is so terribly, awfully flawed that I couldn’t stop laughing the entire time. It’s one of those movies that invokes a rousing chorus of “Oh, Holey Plot.”

I know some comic book fans get annoyed at Peter being made out to be some sort of wise-cracking hipster or something… I didn’t care about that. Cracking wise was something Spider-Man used to do, so that was okay in my book. But the choices made by so many of these characters made no sense at all. And that mobster guy? Well, he just disappeared entirely. Like, was a major plot point and then was left dangling off the side of a bridge, never to be heard from again. Also, the camera kept switching to a first person view when Spider-Man was roaming the city, and that was obviously fake, completely needless and really quite annoying.

Just… man. I had a good time watching it, insofar as I could not stop laughing the entire time. And I’m pretty sure I was supposed to be taking things seriously. The movie was just ridiculous, hole-riddled, ham-handed and not a very good Spider-Man film. Great comedy. But all in all, just not good. If you’re thinking of buying the DVD, I’d suggest not doing that.

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