2012 // USA // Marc Webb // July 2, 2012 // 3D Digital Theatrical Projection (Wehrenberg Chesterfield Galaxy 14 Cine)
Perhaps the most unkind thing one can observe regarding The Amazing Spider-Man is how much of a struggle it is to say anything notable about it at all. The film is just there, a slick, by-the-numbers recitation of the Spidey origin story in a slightly different key than Sam Raimi's Spider-Man. That 2001 feature remains curiously over-praised to this day, and it's a perverse commentary on Amazing's mediocrity that it will ultimately serve to burnish the earlier film's reputation.
Director Marc Webb's take on the Web-Slinger's tale offers an ill-advised emotional focus on Peter Parker's dead parents, as well as a few superficial changes. Here the romantic prize is Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) instead of Mary Jane Watson, and the webs that sprung from a genetic mutation in 2001 are here high-tech devices of Parker's own invention (as in the original comic tale). In lieu of Tobey Maguire, this outing features Andrew Garfield as Spidey, who at least proves more nuanced and flexible in the role. Overall, however, the tweaks leave such a slight impression that one wonders why the filmmakers bothered with them at all. Amazing distressingly suggests that Marvel and Hollywood have managed to reduce Spidey to a predictable, all-flash product, an ignoble fate for the the crown prince of conflicted, wise-ass adolescent superheroes.
The little moments that entertain in Amazing are mostly of an actorly or technical nature: Garfield and Stone's natural, sweetly awkward courtship, for example, or the eerie way that the scaly visage of the villainous Lizard echoes the face of alter ego Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans). However, the film is so weighed down by triteness and and futile pathos-wringing that it quickly fades from memory after the credits roll. For a film about one of the most recognizable and beloved of modern spandex-clad heroes, such flimsiness is disappointing, to say the least.