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Overall Rating

Awesome: 2.04%
Worth A Look34.69%
Average: 24.49%
Pretty Bad34.69%
Total Crap: 4.08%

5 reviews, 19 user ratings

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Amazing Spider-Man, The (2012)
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by Jay Seaver

"Neither "Ultimate" nor "Spectacular", and certainly not "Amazing"."
2 stars

"The Amazing Spider-Man" is done no favors by arriving when Sam Raimi's trio of Spider-Man movies is still fairly fresh, but that's not indefensible; in the ten years since his first "Spider-Man" came out, Marvel Comics has started at least two new series for the character that went back to the start, released a bunch of other #1 issues, produced two different animated series... This sort of thing is part of the landscape. What's important is how well the story is told, and this particular Spider-Man origin falls short of amazing.

There's a little more intrigue to it - largely unseen in most versions of the Spider-Man story, here we see Richard Parker (Campbell Scott) and his wife Mary (Embeth Davidtz) leaving their son in the care of his Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) and Aunt May (Sally Field). A dozen years later, the orphaned Peter (Andrew Garfield) is still with them when he finds his father's old satchel, which leads him to his father's old Oscorp colleague Curt Conners (Rhys Ifans), a bite from a genetically engineered spider, and an armed robber he tragically doesn't stop. He meets a nice girl, Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone), though her NYPD father (Denis Leary) is none too fond of new masked vigilante Spider-Man, while Conners's experiments in using reptilian DNA for cellular regeneration go monstrously awry.

This story has been told enough that by now, it's less about the particular variations on the theme than how its told, and the way this movie fails is kind of fascinating. Director Mark Webb and the producers - with three writers at one end of the pipeline and three editors on the other - manage to make a movie that focuses so resolutely on the things it does best as to weaken itself in every other area. And for as nice as the scenes between Pete & Gwen or Pete & Ben are (except the last Pete/Gwen scene, which seems to throw the filmmakers' understanding of Peter Parker out the window), the balance between that and the actual plot that involves Peter Parker becoming a superhero and fighting supervillains is terribly out of whack. Conners goes from mentor to antagonist off-screen, with just voiceover flashbacks to scenes apparently cut from the movie to bridge the gap. The movie joins its big Brooklyn Bridge action sequence halfway through, depriving the audience of not just a cool set-piece, but seeing Peter and Captain Stacy confront "supercrime" for the first time.

Granted, the stuff with The Lizard is not very good, but by not just rolling with the innate strangeness of it, the filmmakers make what's left feel shoehorned-in and out of place. It feels like they're doing a Batman Begins-style reboot - go back to a previously untold starting point, scrape away the parts that make for easy parody, focus on what resonates with the audience - without realizing they are removing all the fun parts. Webb and company get the horror-movie surface of The Lizard well enough, but the grandiosity of a were-lizard in a lab coat who sssspeakssss like thisssssss and wants to rule over a world of transformed lizard-people just doesn't seem to be something they're willing to embrace. The lab coat is shed at the first opportunity and the snout-less CGI model is neither convincing nor entertaining.

The cast, at least, is solid. Andrew Garfield makes an appealing Peter Parker while still remembering that he's a teenager and can often tend to be well-meaning and self-centered at the same time. Martin Sheen makes a great, folksy Uncle Ben - he's grandfatherly without ever seeming frail. Rhys Ifans does pretty well with what he's given, and Emma Stone wrings a fair amount of charm out of what she's given. Denis Leary, Sally Field, Campbell Scott, and Irrfan Khan get the job done.

It's a nice-enough looking movie, with some impressive stuntwork and a consistent style. It does tend toward the dark - this Peter Parker does much of his webslinging at night - which doesn't do the 3D cinematography any favors, although there are a few moments which show off the climbing abilities of both spiders and lizards. Still, as much as Webb can build action sequences around emotional beats, they often aren't as viscerally exciting as they could be, even with relatively little emphasis use of digital stuntpeople.

"The Amazing Spider-Man" does a few things pretty well, and they're the things people generally say are important: Decent acting, getting the emotion right. But for a long movie featuring a guy with spider-powers facing off against a mad half-reptile scientist, it's not nearly as much fun as that description and remarkably short on memorable action.

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originally posted: 07/10/12 12:40:32
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User Comments

12/29/17 morris campbell not amazing by anymeans 2 stars
3/29/16 Aj wales Seen one spiderman you have seem them all. Nothing new to add to series. 1 stars
1/14/16 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
5/16/14 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
7/19/13 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
8/25/12 roscoe flawed because mostly a remake 4 stars
7/29/12 Lenny Zane Insufferable first 45 minutes dig too deep a hole for film to get out of. 2 stars
7/27/12 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
7/10/12 Andy One of the best spiderman film.. Good character development 4 stars
7/09/12 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
7/08/12 action movie fan nothing amamzing this time the lizard is true to the source but nothing else 3 stars
7/06/12 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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