Movie Review: AMAZING? Hmmm, You Sure About That, SPIDER-MAN…

Maintaining the rights. That’s why this movie was made. It feels like a bunch of really cynical folks made this flick. They seem to only understand what’s cool about Spider-Man, and not what makes his heart beat… I’m getting ahead of myself. I want to preface this by saying that I am a “fan” of Raimi’s trilogy. Unabashedly so. They are fast moving, bright, fun, and have a heart at their core(Sure, it’s heart is covered in cheese, but whatever, you know? Although, they may want to go to the doctor and get their cholesterol checked.). This is the only time I’m going to bring up the Raimi films. I put all that business aside when I entered the theater. I checked my Spider-Man baggage at the door, and was ready to take whatever was going to be projected onto the screen. Honestly, I felt pretty neutral about this flick. I just couldn’t muster up the will to really care about it at all. Well, that’s not an entirely fair statement. I obviously cared enough to go see it. So, there’s that.

The Amazing Spider-Man has a real schizophrenic feel to it.  It doesn’t know how to make peace with it’s “origin story” elements and it’s actual plot. Whenever any momentum begins, one way or the other, it feels like it has to hit the brakes to address the other. They don’t organically flow into each other, and neither are given enough time to sufficiently explore what it is that is going on. It ‘s hard to pin down what is wrong with this movie on a mechanical level. There is a lot of time spent on story elements that the movie never resolves, and whenever something threatens to become interesting the movie almost seems to say, “Oh… We really should be moving on. We do actually have to tell a story. This stuff isn’t really part of it. Sorry about that, dog.” It’s not a problem that the movie brings these things up, but rather that it’s the focus for about 45 minutes of the 2 hour running time. To go any further, I’d have to enter spoiler territory, and I’m not really into that unless I have to be. For a movie that has so many things going on, you’d think that it would move at a break neck pace, and you’d be wrong. Even at just 2 hours, this flick is surprisingly boring, and I felt like I had been watching it for 4 hours. Nothing ever feels compelling, and I was checking my watch constantly. The best way to describe the feeling of the movie would be to call it “flat”. It just kind of progresses, and I never cared why things were progressing. It’s not the fault of any the actors, in fact, they’re more often than not pretty good. The fault lies in the script, or maybe the editing room. It does have the feeling of a story that has had entire sections lifted from it. Honestly, though, I don’t feel too bad about that. Even if adding extra scenes would have made things slightly clearer, it would have made for more stuff to sit through. The over all tone of the movie is, like I said before, “flat” and boring.

There is a plethora of characters in this movie, and I don’t know who any of them really are. Yeah, you could say that we already “know” these characters because of the comics and stuff, but that’s really weak. It’s a movie, and has to exist on it’s own terms. The “love” story aspect of the movie is really lame and contrived. There is nothing compelling about anything that happens. Gwen Stacey likes Peter Parker because… He’s cute, and she noticed him? I guess. Peter Parker likes Gwen Stacey because… He’s a creepy stalker(He has a long lens photo of Gwen as his desktop back ground.)? I guess. There’s no emotional conflict in their coming together. I found that to be kind of strange. Considering that “emotional strife” is a staple of Peter Parker’s character. Speaking of emotional stuff, spoiler alert, Uncle Ben dies. The way the movie handles it is in more of a mechanical capacity than an emotionally relevant event. Call me crazy, but in terms of Spidey’s origin isn’t this a considerably important event that haunts Peter because of his culpability. Isn’t this the event that solidifies Peter’s understanding of using his powers in a responsible and helpful way. You know, the old chestnut, “With great power comes great responsibility.” I’m not even sure those words are uttered in this movie. I could be wrong on that, though. Only a few minutes after Uncle Ben dies the matter is pretty much completely dropped, and I never felt the weight of it. It never seems like this is what propelled Peter Parker to become Spider-Man. The villain, the Lizard, is a pretty stock character. They connect him to Peter’s parents death, but it comes of as more of a contrivance than a compelling plot thread. It’s too vague, really. It’s there to set up stuff for future movies, but without addressing it in this one his arc feels incomplete, and further, makes the movies’ overarching plot feel incomplete.

It’s not all a drag, though. Whenever Spider-Man is on the screen the movie comes together a little. These scenes are actually entertaining, and even engaging. Andrew Garfield, does some good work while in the suit. It’s obvious he’s new at being a “hero”, and to be frank, it’s fun watching him take a few licks here and there. He’s also pretty funny, but never so much that I felt distracted by his quipping. He acts like, what I would assume, any teenager that has super powers would act like. A smart ass. These scenes were the only times I felt like I was enjoying the movie. Isolated from the rest of the proceedings, these scenes have a sense of life and vibrancy that the rest of the flick is sorely missing. If anything, it makes a good case for Andrew Garfield being Spider-Man.

The Amazing Spider-Man had a lot going against it, and unfortunately, it doesn’t make a very good argument for it’s existence. It’s almost like the people behind the scenes made a check list of what was required for a Spider-Man movie, but had no idea how to implement them into a compelling narrative. It seems like it probably made enough money to justify a sequel, and even after saying all that stuff I said, it has potential. This is not that great of a movie and I’d probably recommend waiting to rent it rather than going to the theater, but now that all the “required” set up is done, hopefully it will open the doors for a better movie.

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