The Amazing Spider-Man tries to look into the origins of how Peter Parker came to be. Abandoned by his parents as a little boy, Peter grows up under the watchful and caring eyes of his Uncle Ben and Aunt May. But when he accidentally finds some clues to why his parents disappeared, they lead him to the amputee scientist Dr. Curt Connors. While trying to figure all of this out, he gets bitten by a radioactive spider from Connors lab and gets special abilities. In between finding out who he is and what he can do with his new powers, Peter also has his long-time crush Gwen Stacy, and her police captain father, to worry about. And when something drastic happens to Connors that endangers the lives of everyone, he has to save the day.
So first of all, let me make it very clear- this whole different origin story is, in the words of Dr. Sheldon Cooper, poppycock. It sure starts off that way, but all that gets brushed aside once Peter gets his spidey powers and then we are basically watching a second-hand copy of Sam Raimi's Spider-Man. One thing that The Amazing Spider-Man succeeded in doing for me was to truly appreciate the Sam Raimi trilogy, because this whole reboot was the most unnecessary thing to come out since the Conan the Barbarian remake (I haven't actually seen it or the original, but I cannot imagine people thinking otherwise).
The story does begin in a more secretive, mysterious way. Until the part Peter gets his powers, it is quite an entertaining and different film. One of the more ingenious sequences in the movie is Peter coming to terms with his powers. It is funny and also sort of surreal and cool. From there on though, it just goes downhill. Plot-lines get introduced and abandoned just as quickly, like what really happened to Peter's parents or the elusive Norman Osborn with his illness. There is no build-up of any kind and things just seem to happen. Of course the whole story is exactly like what we saw in Spider-Man. The dialogue is okay-ish. There are a few humorous lines and comebacks, but none which reach the sort of iconic level that big budget superhero action movies are expected to have. No "spidey senses" tingled and even this film's version of "with great power comes great responsibility" was too long to remember.
Obviously the story suffers because nearly all of us have seen the Sam Raimi version from only ten years ago. It is a bit of a double whammy because I hated feeling like I was watching a copy, but then it wasn't even copied properly, which infuriated me even more. Like when Peter takes Gwen swinging around the city, they don't focus on them, or what comes after. Or when Connors is shown having his evil sub-conscious talk loudly to him, which was exactly what happened with Osborn in Spider-Man, but it isn't as eerie.
Another huge misstep for me was the way the film was made. Marc Webb, the director, has only made one feature film before this, and that was the romcom (500) Days of Summer. Apart from maybe his surname, I don't know what qualified him to make this film. There are like textbook action stuff that this film completely overlooks. For instance, when Connors has transformed into Lizard for the first time, there isn't that big revelatory moment that is so obvious when it comes to a character like this. The film jumps around and never focuses where it needs to focus. It completely fails to find the balance between action, romance and humour. Thinking back right now, I don't understand how it was two hours and fifteen minutes long since nothing was given enough time, but then again, sitting in the audience at the time, the film seemed to go on and on for me. Most of the effects were really gimicky, especially the POV shots. Even the lizards looked fake, which was weird. The big crisis that happens at the end of such movies never really felt like one because hardly anyone seems to be affected. Even the "cool" sequences were "lame" because the film did not know how to set them up properly and what to do with them after. Cars were left dangling on bridges and schools were attacked out of nowhere and cranes were aligned and whatnot. I honestly feel that Michael Bay could have done a better job, because say what you want about him, the man knows how to construct an action scene.
The biggest drawback is what this film did with its cast. First of all, Andrew Garfield is too good-looking to be Peter Parker. I do really love his love for the character and he does a more than decent job of playing him, but I just could not believe for a second that this wasn't a guy everyone was in love with. When he's Peter Parker, he's absolutely cool and adorable at the same time and when he's Spider-man, well, the costume um, compliments him perfectly :P I would actually count this as a plus in the sense that if not for anything, girls can watch this film to gush over his perfect looks. But then you take things into perspective, and a guy like that can never be an unpopular geek. Tobey Maguire is normal-looking, so this was very believable when he payed the part. Garfield on the other hand, is gorgeous and fine. Hell even the bully Flash looked like he was in love with him!
And then we come to Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy- oh cruel wasted potential! My biggest problem with the Sam Raimi films was the over-emphasis on the v.v.v. annoying Mary Jane Watson. This film barely notices Gwen Stacy. Which is a shame because every second she is in the shot, the screen lights up. Her character, unfortunately, isn't allowed to flesh out at all. There is a scene with Gwen and her dad talking in their hallway about cocoa, and it is the quintessential Emma Stone humour that can make any film that much more entertaining, and that is all there is of it! I mean it is even worse that they give us this little taste of what could have been and then take it away, rather than just nothing all the way. This whole film is actually full of little tasters such as these, and nothing more! Gahhh.
The chemistry between Garfield and Stone was superb. They are so cute together that you almost want to forgive the entire movie because it led these two perfect specimens to each other. But again, I hated the way their love story is handled because I could not digest that their two characters would end up caring about each other so much over so little time. Also their first kiss is so Bollywood, I audibly groaned with disgust when it happened.
The villain, Dr. Connors aka Lizard, is played by Welsh actor Rhys Ifans. I did not like this villain at all. First of all, he did not feel as dangerous as the others. Secondly, I hate lizards and the whole concept gives me the creeps. Thirdly, he looks terrible. I love Ifans, but his transformation from honest scientist and pioneer to a gutter-loving ego-maniacal reptile-thing-person was not that impressive and kind of random. The action scenes between him and Spider-man are not remotely enthralling or something that takes your breath away. Then again, nothing in this film does that, but Ifans with his timing was bound to be more interesting. He just didn't invoke the kind of fear and awe that a supervillain should; just a weird need to want to bathe yourself because all of it is so icky.
My absolutely favourite thing about The Amazing Spider-Man was Dennis Leary as Captain Stacy. He was snappy and funny and sincere. He stole the scene every time he was there because he was just such a fantastic character, and Leary played him with so much wit and honesty. He was a no-nonsense man in a stupid nonsense movie. Martin Sheen as Uncle Ben, Sally Field as Aunt May and Irrfan Khan as Rajit Ratha/ that-shady-Indian-businessman-dude were all okay.
Other things were also disappointing. There were things from the trailers that were missing. I had expected at least the soundtrack to be good, seeing how (500) Days has an excellent tracklist, but apart from a very Footloose-esque sequence of Peter skateboarding and and discovering his powers, there was zilch. As my friend pointed out, even Twilight has an adequate soundtrack. One huge plus to the movie however, was the anticipated Stan Lee cameo that may just be his best one ever.
After mouthing-off about this film the entire day, I feel that I might have been too harsh about it. But honestly, just thinking about it right now is making me angry. No, I did not expect The Amazing Spider-Man to be "amazing" or well, The Avengers, but I thought it will be okay enough to let it pass by. Instead I got a headache watching this totally unnecessary reboot of what I now know to be a very good set of movies. It is evident that there will be a sequel because helloo?, Hollywood is cuckoo, and also since there was some extra scene at the end of the credits that I missed because I had to get out of the hall to let all the steam escape from my ears. I just hope that the studios learn from their mistakes and get a proper director who can exploit the immeasurable talents of Garfield and Stone and get an actual supervillain.
Watch it if you must. You may like it and then tell me all about it. Or you may hate it and I'll get to tell you "I told you so". Eitherways, The Amazing Spider-Man was a terrible movie that even my fake-husband Andrew Garfield and my fake-bff Emma Stone could not save for me. Now that is depressing.