New Spidey film is spectacular, but not quite amazing

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Posted Mon, Jul 2, 2012

Look Out! Here Comes The Spider-Man!: Andrew Garfield, as Spider-Man, does whatever a spider can.

I’m not going to rain on “The Amazing Spider-Man’s” parade. I’m just going to sprinkle a little.

Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man franchise, save for the disappointing “Spider-Man 3” (’07), has produced the best Spider-Man films to date. That’s not to say that this new entry, taken on its own terms, is a bad motion picture. Actually, it’s a pretty good film, despite the 3-D version that detracts from an excellent movie going experience.

See it in 2-D. You’ll thank me later.

How so?

There are many scenes where the peripheral edges of the picture are slightly out of focus, and I found myself squinting trying to re-focus the picture instead of paying attention to the storyline. I’m not convinced that the 3-D process has been perfected – certainly not enough for the extra ticket price they’re asking and the hassle of wearing goofy glasses. In addition, there were only one or two scenes were flying objects seemed to be actually coming at the audience. Is it worth the extra money, you make the call.

But with 3-D aside, Andrew Garfield takes over the web-slinging duties from Toby Maguire in this ambitious remake or re-imaging of “Spider-Man” (’02). Garfield is as nerdy and as likable as Maguire, which raises the question, why not continue the story where Raimi left off instead of a reboot?

Director Marc Webb spends the first hour going over Spider-Man’s origins. Admittedly, Webb’s version is more fleshed out than Raimi’s, as it explores how Peter Parker (Garfield) lost his parents and ended up living with his Aunt May (Sally Field) and Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen). However, most of Spider-Man’s origins is familiar territory. So again, why the reboot?

He’s The New Webhead: Andrew Garfield takes over Toby Maguire’s web-slinging duties.

Once the movie gets going, Peter discovers an old briefcase hidden in his Uncle Ben’s basement belonging to his father. The mysterious briefcase yields documents revealing that Peter’s father, a brilliant scientist, was working with Dr. Connors (Rhys Ifans), another brilliant scientist, on cross-species interbreeding at Oscorp. (Spidey fans know that Oscorp is own by Norman Osborn, aka the Green Goblin, who doesn’t make an appearance in this film. By the by, don’t look for J. Jonah Jameson or the Daily Bugle either.)

Peter slips in with a tour of Oscorp in the hopes of meeting Dr. Connors, who is obsessed with injecting himself with lizard genes that will supposedly regenerate his missing right arm. It is there that Peter is bitten by a radioactive spider, and Dr. Connors injects himself with lizard juice, thus natural enemies are born.

As the Lizard, Connors terrorizes New York City and Spider-Man gets a chance to perform his feats of daring do – swinging from buildings, rescuing kids from burning cars and saving ladies in distress – namely his love interest Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone). Meanwhile, Gwen’s father, police chief Stacy (Denis Leary) relentlessly pursues Spidey. The third act ends with Spidey battling the Lizard atop Oscorp Tower.

To its credit “The Amazing Spider-Man” is a more serious film (as comic books go) than the Raimi offerings. However, the Raimi films were sprinkled with just enough camp and an occasional wink and a nod to the popular 1967 Saturday morning cartoon that made them enduring. Theses elements are sorely missed from Webb’s version. However, hard-core Spidey fans will not be disappointed. It also bears mentioning: “Stay in your seat until the credits are over, as with all recent Marvel films there’s a hint of a possible sequel.

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About Laurence Washington

Laurence Washington is an award-winning writer and journalism professor at Metropolitan State University of Denver.

View all posts by Laurence Washington

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