The Amazing Spider Man is intended to be a new origin story about a powerless kid who got superpowers and became a hero.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t know which origin story to tell, nor does it understand what it means to be “powerless”. Wrapped up in the notion of being “grittier” and “realistic”, Marc Webb‘s reboot attempts to spin a fresh new vision for the wall-crawler, but it constantly forgets the story it’s trying to tell by getting tangled up in lazy coincidences and idiotic character motivations.
The film’s problems are further compounded by the woefully miscast Andrew Garfield, who carries the sweet, good-hearted nature of Peter Parker but none of the powerlessness that makes us root for him. What works in the film are the visuals, the set pieces, the performances and the score, but everything else is far from amazing.
The Amazing Spider-Man is a movie that’s constantly chasing plotlines. In this telling, Peter has been haunted by the disappearance of his parents since he was a boy. One day he finds his father’s old briefcase, which leads him to search for answers at Oscorp Laboratories. There he wanders into an unguarded room, gets bitten by a genetically-mutated spider, and develops his Spidey sense.
Peter is driven to further investigate his parents’ disappearance until it’s time to catch the guy who killed uncle Ben (Martin Sheen). Peter then hones his crime-fighting abilities by fighting people who resemble his uncle’s killer before realizing that maybe he should go after all criminals. Meanwhile, amputee Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans), who was a friend of Peter’s father (Campbell Scott), is genetically mutating animals to unlock the secret of regeneration. Naturally, scientific investigation can only lead to horrible things, so Connors re-grows his arm only to then transform into a beastly giant reptile known as ‘The Lizard’. The movie then twists itself in knots to keep making Spider-Man and the Lizard fight.
The fight scenes are terrific, as are all the action scenes in The Amazing Spider-Man. Webb has taken the visual energy and imagination he brought to his previous film, (500) Days of Summer, and weaved an entertaining spectacle that takes full advantage of 3D to craft some truly memorable set pieces.
Superficially, The Amazing Spider-Man can deliver an exciting ride, but the story is a mess. The Lizard’s master plan doesn’t require him to take time out of his busy villain-schedule to go down to the high school and start fighting with Spider-Man. If anything, it’s a distraction. But the movie needs another action scene, and so it gets one, and it’s a good one, but it’s a pointless one. The movie is constantly skipping ahead and taking shortcuts so it can get to where it needs to be. It gets so bad that at one point a minor character moves machinery in order to physically get Spider-Man where he needs to be. This kind of sloppy writing means that the plot and character motivations in The Amazing Spider-Man don’t evolve; they simply change directions and then forget about what was happening before. A boy’s search for his missing parents is set up as the heart of this story, and then it’s simply left by the wayside until we’re reminded about it in a scene that takes place in the middle of the end credits.
The movie continues to try and outrun its narrative nonsense until it’s finally consumed by a laughably ridiculous third act where contrivances and new motivations overwhelm the viewer to the point where the film’s positive aspects aren’t enough to save the day. When you see Spider-Man battling a giant reptile on top of a skyscraper to save the city from a convenient Doomsday device, you can’t help but wonder, “Wasn’t this movie supposed to be about a powerless kid trying to find out what happened to his parents?” I guess it’s easy to get distracted when you can swing through the air with the greatest of ease.
Rating: 2/5 - It’s promising at the start but as the audience try to unravel the web of Parker’s/Spider-Man’s life they find themselves entangled and a wee bit stuck. The action scenes are one of the movie’s best attributes but the miscasting of Garfield as Spider Man makes The Amazing Spider Man fall apart. Disappointing!