Overview: The Amazing Spider-Man is a decent reboot that took itself (and its title) too seriously. Columbia Pictures; 2012; Rated PG-13; 136 Minutes.
The Average Spider-Man: Retreading an origin story seems unnecessary for such a popular character. Is there anybody who doesn’t know how Peter Parker became Spider-Man? The problem isn’t that the plot beats are similar. The second manifestation just adds nothing new to the story. Pivotal moments in Spider-Man’s origin feel more like a checklist of events rather than fleshed out character moments.
There’s also an attempt to introduce a dark and gritty feel to the Spider-Man universe. But the movie throws a silly looking lizard-scientist into the mix, deflating our suspension of disbelief. The action scenes aren’t particularly grounded in reality either. One particular action sequence in a high school feels more at home in an episode of Looney Tunes than a Spider-Man movie.
The Awful Villain-Man: Any potential Dr. Jekyl/Mr. Hyde elements in the Dr. Curt Conners/Lizard story is quickly squandered and we’re left with nothing more than a standard CGI monster. There’s no glimpse into the humanity of the character. By the time his ultimate plan is revealed, all semblance of logic is thrown out the window. But the most disappointing thing about The Lizard is that he takes away from the actual interesting parts of the movie.
The Pretty Good Spider-Man: Just as the tone jarringly shifts from scene to scene, the persona of Peter Parker does as well. Some scenes he’s a trendy hipster, other scenes he’s a bumbling idiot, and finally a distressed teenager because the story requires it. All those odd character decisions make it even more impressive that Andrew Garfield still knocks it out of the park on a scene by scene basis.
Marc Webb has a knack for creating charming dynamics for his actors and it’s no different here. The relationship between Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy on paper doesn’t work. There’s casual flirting and suddenly they’re dating, but it works on the screen because the chemistry between Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone is remarkable.
Dennis Leary as Captain Stacy is the best part of the entire movie. Captain Stacy is the only character to get a fully formed arc. There are two great scenes where Stacy discusses what Spider-Man means to New York. Those are definite highlights. Both are under severely different circumstances and serve their purpose well.
Post-Review Notes: The special effects sure look nice and polished, and the POV shots of Spider-Man swinging through New York are pristine, but there’s just no heart in the latest web-slinging adventure.