“The Amazing Spider-Man”
By MICHAEL WALTERS
“The Amazing Spider-Man” doesn’t shoot for great, it shoots for just good enough. It’s one of the more puzzling reboots of recent years since it doesn’t try to do anything new. It essentially covers the same exact ground as the first Tobey Maguire “Spider-Man” movie, but with far less success. Turns out The Amazing Spider-Man isn’t so amazing the second time around.
Here’s what is new though… the spidey effects are noticeably improved. The CGI Spider-Man doesn’t move quite so weightlessly so he fights a little more believably and looks less like a marionette being jerked around. The occasional point of view spidey shots are a nice touch, even though they’re just a gimmick that lends little to the action. And of course there’s a new guy in the Spider-Man suit (Andrew Garfield), a different love interest (Emma Stone), and a new villain (Rhys Ifans).
Garfield makes an uncomfortable superhero. He darts his eyes around, shifts his body and mumbles his dialogue about great power and great responsibility while looking slightly embarrassed to be saying such trivial comic book drivel. I never felt like he got into the character, and couldn’t turn that uncomfortable squeamishness to his advantage. The film turns his superpowers into a running gag that quickly grows tiresome as he’s always slamming doors and breaking glass or ripping faucets out of the wall.
The villain is a big problem here too. Rhys Ifans plays the one armed Oscorp scientist who decides to inject himself with a new serum to regenerate limbs. But things go predictably awry and he turns instead into a giant lizard man. Every villain so far has had some kind of backstory with Peter Parker, and there’s a story here too. But the problem is Ifans and Garfield aren’t given much of one, and they don’t make anything of the subplot they do have. While the green goblin’s mask was a target for much criticism in the first film, this lizard man kept reminding me of the cheesy monster from “The Creature From The Black Lagoon.” There’s simply nothing cool about him. I didn’t really care what he did or what his evil plan was.
Martin Sheen and Sally Field are good enough as Uncle Ben and Aunt May, although Sally Field can’t hold a candle to Rosemary Harris. The one upgrade this time around is Emma Stone, who throws her considerable charms into an underwritten role and manages to support the love story almost single handedly. But everywhere else it’s like a cover band trying to cover The Boss but missing out on the magic.