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Digesting the lowest rung of pop culture so you don't have to!
Of all the summer movies, The Amazing Spider-Man was the one I was looking most forward to. I have always been a fan of the Spider-Man film series, and I was growing more and more interested by this new take the more I learned about it. With a strong cast (including Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Martin Sheen, Sally Field, and Dennis Leary), and an emerging director who has already proven himself with a unique style, the film had a lot of potential to be something great. Ultimately, I found the film to be a mixed bag.
Let’s start with the tone. I really feel this film took itself too seriously. While that is not necessarily a bad thing for a superhero movie, I really feel that a Spider-Man movie needs to be light and fun. Now, that is just my opinion. Your mileage may vary. I did not find this film to be very fun overall, and that was a bit of a disappointment for me.
I do not want to come off as being too harsh on the movie. The narrative and execution was mostly well-done. The film keeps your interest and the pacing is strong. The filmmakers introduce this psychological and conspiracy element that is in many ways reminiscent of Ang Lee’s Hulk. I do not think it worked as well as the filmmakers wanted it to, mainly because it is never resolved and somewhat forgotten about. In fact, that is one problem I had with the film is that subplots are introduced, deemed important, and then completely dropped. Because of that, it makes the film seem a bit unfocused at times.
Though the pacing was fine in this movie, there were times I was growing impatient. Not surprisingly, the first half of the movie deals heavily with Spidey’s origin. While it was interesting with what they were doing, the beats were very similar to what was previously done in 2002’s Spider-Man (which I do not hold against this movie), and it was spread out over a longer period of movie time. It started to get to the point where said to myself “Lets speed this along; I want to see Spider-Man already.”
The other major problem I had with the film was our central character: Peter Parker/Spider-Man. Andrew Garfield brings a solid interpretation and makes the character his own. However, Peter suffers from two problems. 1) He is difficult to relate too. Given the back story this film supplies for him, he loses the “everyman” quality that generally has defined Spider-Man since the 1960s. 2) More importantly, he is not very likable. It is not Garfield’s fault; I blame the writing. Several times in the movie, Peter does or says something that makes him come off like a jerk. I know one of Spidey’s traits is that he runs his mouth in a good-humor. Here, there are times I wanted to slap him for being an outright a-hole. One line he says in particular comes to mind that centers around a “promise”. Without spoiling anything, the line is in somewhat bad taste considering the context.
On a more positive note, I found the action sequences to be spectacular. I was not sure how director Marc Webb ((500) Days of Summer) would handle this element of the movie. When an independent filmmaker steps into an action blockbuster, it can be really hit or miss. Fortunately, the action scenes are crisp, clean, and exciting (and also feature quite possibly the best Stan Lee cameo yet). Some of the CGI around the Lizard (Rhys Ifans) is a bit dodgy at times, but I did not find it that distracting.
I had the pleasure of seeing this movie in 3D, and though I am not a lover (nor hater for that matter) of 3D, it was implemented extremely well here (though, I wish that the movie had more swinging sequences). I would recommend seeing the film in 3D if you want to spend the extra money.
I feel that there is a lot that can be discussed about The Amazing Spider-Man from how it works as its own film to how it compares to Sam Raimi’s previous series. The above is just a few quick thoughts I have about the movie. I want to make it clear that I do not think this was a bad movie. It seems that audiences are enjoying it, and there is a lot to enjoy here. While I can see this movie growing on me over time, I am not sure if The Amazing Spider-Man was the Spider-Man movie I was looking for.