The Amazing Spiderman is a fresh take on the time-honored franchise, but it never quite reaches the level of charm of the last rendition.
The movie begins with the mysterious disappearance of Peter Parker’s parents. In a very Harry Potteresque presentation, he is brought to live with his aunt and uncle as mystical music plays in the background. A brisk transition to Parker’s teenage years introduces Andrew Garfield’s very conventional portrayal of a high school student protagonist, misunderstood and virtuous.
It is in Parker’s character that the greatest departure from the last film, Spiderman (2002) takes place. Whereas Tobey Maguire’s Peter Parker of Spiderman is quiet, studious, and an avid photographer, Andrew Garfield’s Parker is drab, reflecting the darker-theme of this Spiderman. Shallow and typical, his next move can always be predicted.
Much of the charm of the previous movie revolved around the newspaper and the editor J. Jonah Jameson’s hatred of Spiderman as a “public menace.” The police chief that fills such a role in The Amazing Spiderman is neither as comical nor dynamic, and the fact that Parker has a camera in the beginning of the film makes it all the more disappointing Jameson’s newspaper The Daily Bugle doesn’t make an appearance.
The romantic involvement of Parker and Gwenn in The Amazing Spiderman is more simplified than Parker and Mary-Jane in the last film, with Gwenn taking to Parker immediately and nothing standing between them but Parker’s innate shyness. This lack of conflict leads to less character development overall, further reinforcing the superficiality of the characters.
The plot is unique, but it doesn’t stray far from the ordinary as far as superhero films go. Spiderman’s nemesis arises halfway through the film, and over the next hour the two grapple with each other many times before a final confrontation.
The Lizardman works well as a villain, being both physically and mentally superior and requiring Spiderman to use strategy to defeat him. The battles are dramatic with extensive, well-incorporated CGI and a rapid pacing to them. The final confrontation is lacking that extra “something,” but still serves its purpose and brings the movie to its conclusion.
The Amazing Spiderman is worth seeing, but don’t expect anything you haven’t seen in another film that in all likelihood probably did it better. I give this movie three out of five stars.