Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Amazing Spider-Man

Ah, Hollywood.  It's been only five years since the final entry in the Tobey Maguire Spider-Man series and already we have a reboot!  I don't know about you, but to me it feels way too soon.  Of course, I'd happily welcome this new take on the iconic Marvel comic character if there was a good reason for it; Perhaps a great script, a markedly different tone, a fresh new approach, or even one memorable performance?  Unfortunately this dud provides none of those things.

Now, lest you think I went in wanting to knock this film, I most certainly did not.  I honestly wanted to love it.  This was my favorite comic book character growing up.  And on paper, it sounded intriguing.  Andrew Garfield, who plays Peter Parker, was excellent in 'The Social Network' and very good in the under-seen 'Never Let Me Go'.  Emma Stone, playing Parker's love interest Gwen Stacy, is always delightful.  And the sterling supporting cast includes Martin Sheen, Sally Field, Denis Leary, and Campbell Scott.  Yet none of them are remotely interesting.  In fact, I've never seen any of them less interesting.  Compare that to the memorable performances from the Maguire trilogy, including J.K. Simmons as J. Jonah Jameson, Willem Dafoe as the Green Goblin, and Alfred Molina as Dr. Octopus.  No comparison.  And when all performances in a film are lackluster, that falls on director Marc Webb.  (Yes, the director of Spider-Man's last name is Webb.)  To be sure, Webb's breakout film '500 Days of Summer' was utterly charming, but giving him a blockbuster super-hero film to follow it up was a huge mistake.  He wasn't ready and it shows. 

Of course, I won't put all the blame on him.  The script is terrible.  I mean, we have to sit through a slightly modified version of the origin story again?  Seriously?  Is there anyone out there who doesn't know the story by now?  It would have been a much better idea just to make this Spider-Man 4, even with this completely new cast, and just pick up where the last one left off.  At least that would give us something fresh.  And the tone is neither light enough nor dark enough, providing neither the laughs of 'The Avengers' nor the intensity of 'The Dark Knight'.  It's just dull.  And who picked the villain?  The Lizard?  Really??  Huge mistake.  I know they want to differentiate themselves from the 2002 entry, but The Green Goblin is a no-brainer.  Or maybe The Hobgoblin would have been a good compromise.   And even the score is lackluster compared to Danny Elfman's from the other films.  This one's a misfire from start to finish and made me wax nostalgic for the Tobey Maguire trilogy.  I feel the need to remind Hollywood of a valuable lesson I once learned:  With great power comes great responsibility.  Do better next time.

Grade: C-

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