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Overall Rating

Awesome: 2.04%
Worth A Look34.69%
Just Average: 24.49%
Pretty Crappy34.69%
Sucks: 4.08%

5 reviews, 19 user ratings

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Amazing Spider-Man, The (2012)
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by Peter Sobczynski

"Not Even Ah-Mah-Zing. . ."
2 stars

When it was announced a couple of years ago that Sony had decided to forego production of the seemingly inevitable "Spider-Man 4" in order to instead reboot the entire franchise with an all-new cast and creative team, there was more than a little grumbling from the fanboy contingent and ordinary moviegoers alike. Sure, the previous entry in the series, "Spider-Man 3" was largely considered to be a massive disappointment but few expected that the studio would jettison both the franchise and the creative team that brought the web-slinger to the screen after years of false starts and hit the reset button, presumably as a way to avoid having to shell out huge percentages of the box-office take of a fourth installment to people like Sam Raimi and Tobey Maguire. Considering the fact that it has only been about ten years since the release of the first "Spider-Man" movie and just over five since "Spider-Man 3," the general consensus was that Sony was just being lazy and greedy by giving audiences more or less the same thing that they already received a decade ago, only with a cheaper director and cast. As a result, "The Amazing Spider-Man" arrives in theaters facing an opponent nearly as powerful as the rogue's gallery of villains that the main character has battled over the years--the perception that it is just a blatant cash grab and nothing more. In this film, our hero conquers any number of opponents with relative aplomb and ease, ranging from schoolyard bullies to a giant lizard-man hell-bent on making all of Manhattan like him, but when it comes to justifying its own existence, it cannot help but come up painfully short in the end.

The film once again tells the origin of how ordinary teenager Peter Parker and how he was magically transformed into you-know-who. This time around, it kicks off with Peter as a wee lad as his parents, in a panic, drop him off to stay with his Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) and Aunt May (Sally Field) before disappearing off into the night, never to be seen alive again. When we next see Peter (Andrew Garfield), he is an angst-ridden high schooler who spends his days being harassed by the campus bullies while pining for teen queen Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone). One day, while rooting around in the basement, Peter comes across some old papers belonging to his father and learns that he was a scientist for the omnipotent Oscorp working in the field of cross-species genetics. With his interest piqued, he pays Oscorp a visit and while snooping around, he gets himself bitten by a radioactive spider and quickly develops strange powers. At first, he uses these powers to goof off and get back at his chief tormentor at school but when Uncle Ben is killed during a confrontation with a thief on the street--a thief that he himself could have stopped earlier but didn't--Peter utilizes his new-found powers and his scientific acumen to transform himself into Spider-Man and starts cleaning up the streets while looking for his uncle's killer, much to the chagrin of the chief of police (Denis Leary), who just happens to also be Gwen's father to boot.

Of course, every superhero story needs a super-villain and the major antagonist this time comes in the initially unassuming form of Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans), the one-armed former colleague of Peter's father who has been continuing their research into cross-species genetics for Oscorp as a way of curing human ailments by, for example, taking a lizard's ability to regenerate its tail and using it to help people regrow their own lost limbs. Alas, Connors is stumped by a crucial point but after Peter pays him a visit, ostensibly to learn more about his dad, the kid hits upon what appears to be the correct formula. Then, when Connors is forced to produce immediate results or lose his job and funding altogether, he makes the classic movie scientist mistake of testing it on himself. At first, everything seems okay as his arm grows back within a few minutes but before long, he discovers that the serum has the minor side effect of transforming him into a giant lizard that wreaks havoc on the city. Parker eventually discovers the true identity of The Lizard and, guilty about his own part in Connors' unfortunate transformation, tries to stop the now-quite-mad scientist from a plot to release a gas that will change the entire population of New York City into giant lizard-people, which means, of course, that the subways will become even more crowded than usual come winter.

"The Amazing Spider-Man" was directed by Marc Webb, a filmmaker whose only previous feature credit was "(500) Days of Summer," a quirky indie rom-com that could not be more removed in every conceivable way from your typical superhero epic if it tried. When his hiring was announced, it set off "WTF?" ripples throughout Hollywood and the fanboy community alike but as some noted at the time, eyebrows were also raised when people like Tim Burton, Christopher Nolan and even Sam Raimi were unexpectedly hired to helm their own mega-budget comic book adaptations on the strength of their comparatively small-scale previous efforts. Of course, those earlier gambles wound up paying off because they were able to strike agreeable balances between their own personal idiosyncrasies and the basic requirements needed for a film of this size and scope to work for the masses, not to mention distinct visual styles that turned out to be well-suited for bringing comic strips to thrilling life. Nevertheless, betting on someone like Webb was an enormous gamble and while you have to give Sony a bit of credit for having the stone to make such a risky bet, it is one that ends up rolling snake eyes because of Webb's utter unsuitability for the material at hand. Face it, the biggest thing that "(500) Days of Summer" had going for it was a willingness to subvert the familiar narrative conventions of its genre but if that was ever a consideration here, it was one that was clearly disposed of early in the proceedings because this film is virtually indistinguishable from any other superhero origin film to come about as of late. Even if you can somehow ignore the fact that we just saw the origins of Spidey a mere decade ago and that even casual observers are presumably more than familiar with how he came to be, there is a aura of hangdog familiarity to the proceedings that grows enervating after a while and which help to make the opening hour a bigger drag than usual for a film of this type.

Without the distinctive touch that one might have hope that Webb would provide (and that element is so lacking that I began to suspect that he only got hired because someone jokingly suggested him because of his last name and things quickly spiraled out of control from there), the rest of "The Amazing Spider-Man" is dull beyond belief, especially when you consider that the screenplay features such usually reliable names as Alvin Sargent (who wrote the glorious "Spider-Man 2") and Steve Kloves (who penned nearly all of the Harry Potter films). The story hits all the familiar beats in the most familiar manner possible and never really figures out a way to cut loose and have fun with the material. (Trust me, there is enough of a demonstrated fan base for a "Spider-Man" film to ensure that people will still come even with slight deviations to the formula.) The bad guy, always the most important aspect to a movie of this type, is also a snore who is neither tragic nor terrifying and whose grand ultimate scheme is so poorly established that the film is practically over by the time you finally figure out what the hell he is trying to accomplish, though not necessarily why. The big action scenes are, with the exception of a rescue involving a small child trapped in a car dangling precipitously over a bridge, relatively lifeless and lacking in any sort of unique flair--the kind of bland ballyhoo that you find yourself beginning to forget even as they are still playing out in front of you. As for the stars, Andrew Garfield is notably less smarmy than Tobey Maguire was in the role of Peter Parker and Emma Stone's performance as Gwen Stacy is another reminder that she is one of the more exciting presences in movies today but even they struggle to elevate their scenes above the merely mediocre while their co-stars pretty much seem to be going through the motions for the most part.

"The Amazing Spider-Man" is better than the fairly awful "Spider-Man 3" (which isn't saying too much, I realize) and it is at least a little better than such recent train wrecks as "Battleship" or "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter." However, when you consider how much time, energy and resources went into its production, a film like this needs to have a lot more going for it than that if it is to work at all. On the bright side, there is a historical precedent to this film in the fact that the first Sam Raimi effort wasn't that great either and it was only with the second one that things finally clicked together as brilliantly as they did. Who knows, maybe things will repeat themselves and the all-but-inevitable "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" will be the thrilling and surprising wonder that "Spider-Man 2" was and that this film really should have been? My guess, though, is that if such a thing were to happen, a change in directors might be called for so that someone with a bold and distinctive style can be brought in to give the material the kind of oomph that is so clearly lacking here. Hmmm, I wonder if Julie Taymor is free right now. . .

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=23486&reviewer=389
originally posted: 06/30/12 17:48:11
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User Comments

12/28/17 morris campbell not amazing by anymeans 2 stars
3/28/16 Aj wales Seen one spiderman you have seem them all. Nothing new to add to series. 1 stars
1/13/16 Dr.Lao Has its moments, but I didn't like the go-nowhere subplot about Peter's parents 3 stars
9/02/14 Jeff Might have been pointless but who cares? 5 stars
5/15/14 Toni Peluso There was a really good movie in there somewhere, pretty CGI 2 stars
4/22/14 Terry Pointless reboot. The film had no soul comparing to Raimi's versions. 2 stars
7/18/13 Joe Pretty good for an unnecessary reboot. 4 stars
1/06/13 jcar a good movie that is true to comic book lore and effects are good and performances are good 4 stars
8/24/12 roscoe flawed because mostly a remake 4 stars
7/28/12 Lenny Zane Insufferable first 45 minutes dig too deep a hole for film to get out of. 2 stars
7/26/12 mr.mike A bit long and no chemistry between Garfield and Stone. 4 stars
7/24/12 Mick Gillies too busy being tangled up in its own web 1 stars
7/12/12 Man Out Six Bucks Why the fuck do they keep rebooting this story until it's hammered shit? 2 stars
7/09/12 Andy One of the best spiderman film.. Good character development 4 stars
7/08/12 Ming Kwong Good special effects but not as good as Raimi's original 3 stars
7/08/12 Terry Very disappointing. Hope the new Batman is much better. 3 stars
7/08/12 Kcaj better than spider man 3 but thats not saying much 3 stars
7/07/12 action movie fan nothing amamzing this time the lizard is true to the source but nothing else 3 stars
7/05/12 damalc special effects were Amazing, but overall not as good as Raimi's first two 3 stars
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  03-Jul-2012 (PG-13)
  DVD: 06-Nov-2012


  DVD: 06-Nov-2012

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