It’s been five years, since the last Spider-Man movie hit theaters. “With great licensing comes great financial possibilities!” Sony Pictures, for lack of a better phrase, “Blew it!” Spider-Man has a ready-made fan base, which could easily be tapped for funds. So, what happened to make it less than amazing? Plenty!
Sony Pictures, in desperation to hold onto its Spider-Man franchise, has cranked out this weak reboot of the web slinger. Without a Spider-Man project in the works, Disney and Marvel would acquire the rights by default.
“The Amazing Spider-Man” starts out with a young Peter Parker, roughly age four, playing hide-and-go seek with his dad. He discovers his dad’s study has been broken into. Alerting his parents, they immediately leave their dwelling and turn custody of Peter over to Peter’s Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) and Aunt May (Sally Field.) Peter (Andrew Garfield) grows into his late teens without knowing the true fate of his parents. Apparently, they died in a plane crash, while working for OSCORP (does this ring a bell from the Raimi films or comic books. Norman Osborn owns OSCORP and was the Green Goblin.)
In this version of events, Peter is not a nerd at school. He is more of a loner. Yes, he is bullied by Flash Thompson (Chris Zylka,) and he pines for the attention of high school beauty Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone,) which he receives rather easily. Peter is lost and attempts to solve the mystery of who he is. He discovers his father’s leather briefcase in the basement and finds it holds a lost formula. Uncle Ben tells Peter that his father’s former business partner Dr. Curt Conners (Rhys Ifans) may know more about the Parker’s tragic fate. Working on the formula, Peter solves some part of the equation, all while playing with his remote control door lock. This machine looked out of place and cumbersome attached to the door. Why was it there? To show the audience that Peter was mechanically inclined and a genius. Wasn’t working on the equation or attending a science high school enough to show his intelligence? This made him look like one of the cast members from the Little Rascals rather than a super brain.
Deciding he should pay a visit to OSCORP, Peter cleverly sneaks by security by using someone else’s name badge for an internship and tour. Peter locates the group and guess who’s in charge as the guide? Gwen Stacy. Peter tries to hide from her, but outs himself by answering a question posed to the group by Dr. Connors. Sneaking away from the group, Peter finds a room where genetically enhanced spiders are weaving industrial strength webbing. Like a true scientist, Peter touches the webbing and has spiders jump all over him. Eventually he is bitten on the back of the neck, and immediately acquires spider-like powers.
He sleeps on a subway train, which is one of the safest places to take a nap and is immediately molested by a fellow passenger. Peter wakes, and accidentally rips off a woman’s blouse, which is the catalyst for a brilliant and stunt filled melee with all the passengers in the subway car. All persons, except Peter, are knocked out cold or incapacitated.
It seems whatever Peter touches, he destroys. He does not know how to handle his newly acquired power. He ends up back home at a very late hour to an upset uncle and a concerned aunt. After being confronted, he leaves in anger with his uncle lingering after him. In the course of searching for his nephew, he confronts a robber and they wrestle over a gun. In the process of the struggle, Uncle Ben is accidently shot and killed. Hearing the gun’s report, Peter rushes to his uncle’s side, but is unable to help. This is the life defining moment for Peter Parker as he travels down the road to find his uncle’s killer. He reluctantly takes up the mantle of the amazing Spider-Man.
So, what happened?
Some of the cardinal plot points from the original comic book are glossed over or ignored. By doing this, “The Amazing Spider-Man” does little to make the characters likeable. Peter hides the fact that he is a nerd, a critical part of being picked on in high school. He is also irresponsible like some teenagers can be, but he continues this behavior even after he gains his new abilities. Peter is so self-absorbed that he cares little for the people around him, and they do get hurt. Where moments of sympathy should be garnered from the audience, the film fails to make that connection. When Uncle Ben dies, there is no remorse. Sure Peter is upset for a while, but that incident should always be there for him to reflect on and remind him on how important his actions are. Although Andrew Garfield goes through the emotional paces with Peter Parker, the audience is not compelled to follow.
There are two other flaws that occur in the course of the film, which stick out like a pimple on a teenager’s face. First, Spider-Man’s mask seems to be optional apparel. He keeps taking it off. What’s the object of a secret identity when you don’t wear the mask? If fans were to play a drinking game with Spider-Man’s mask coming off as the focal point of the game, people would be three sheets to the wind halfway through the film. This was ridiculous. Peter takes his mask off for Gwen, Jack (the kid trapped in the SUV), Captain Stacy, and Dr. Connors (The Lizard.) He went through the work of putting a costume together and then he can’t wait to take it off. Maybe it’s a studio thing where you have to have the actor on screen for so many minutes and it can’t be CGI. Second, Peter Parker designs and builds web shooters for his costume. However, he does not create the webbing that comes out of his doohickeys. He buys them. Yes, they are a cheap product created by OSCORP, which can be found on your local supermarket shelf. During the spider room scene, you can see this product being created by our arachnid friends for consumers. What is the point of this? In the comic book, Pete is a chemist of sorts and he creates his own web formula, which he tinkers with when combating various villains. This lack of attention to detail will cause problems in future conflicts, if there are any sequels.
Also, Spider-Man was out of character. As Peter Parker’s alter-ego, Spider-Man has always been jocular with his opponents. In this film, he was only able to make one quip to the Lizard, and then the rest was business. The writers did a disservice to the root of the Spider-Man character by ignoring the sense of humor he brought into battle. The best line in the movie was delivered by Captain Stacy (Denis Leary,) and then the script goes back to the same well for a second laugh, which kills the momentum.
There were other things that became irritating and never explained. A batch of lizards are crawling all over the city. In the sewers they follow Spider-Man’s webs to where the Lizard has his lair. Why? It looked like a cattle call for a Geico commercial. Their purpose was never explained.
Also, after going through the pains of showing how tight security was in the OSCORP building, people wander in and out without being stopped or questioned. Gwen Stacy, who is not even employed by the corporation, has free access to expensive and rare high tech equipment. Furthermore, the place lacks any kind of internal security. Cameras are not present, and guards do not patrol the halls. So, when the Lizard breaks in and steals the Geico mist spreader, he is not challenged. There was too much free range with all of the characters, and unnecessary restrictions (the N.Y.P.D. make Spider-Man public enemy #1 don’t you know) only when needed to provide tension in the script. Apparently, the Lizard is a suspect of opportunity.
The question is, who is to blame for this aberration? Writers James Vanderbilt, Alvin Sargent, and Steve Kloves are talented scribes with a lot of experience under their inkwells. So, why was the script disjointed and inconsistent. One wonders if they read a single page of a Spider-Man comic book. Perhaps director Marc Webb “(500) Days of Summer” was not capable of handling a big budgeted film of this caliber. The pace at the beginning was woefully slow, while the ending seemed rushed, and where Dr. Connors could be looked upon with sympathy as an amputee, he was made to be inherently evil. Having too many producers added to the mix can cause a lot of turmoil on the set. “The Amazing Spider-Man” had eight of these characters running amuck. So, it’s safe to say they could have been a contributing factor. Plain and simple, Sony Pictures loused this up!
During the credits, while Dr. Connors sits in his cell, a mysterious figure walks out of the shadows and dialogues with him. A sequel will no doubt be in the works. The plot was so boring no one cared if it was Norman Osborn who was instrumental behind the scenes.
One more question: What happened to Editor J. Jonah Jameson, and the Daily Bugle?
Advice: Wait for the DVD or go see “The Avengers,” which isn’t that much better. Salvation for your super hero fix can probably be found in the upcoming “The Dark Knight Rises.”
“The Amazing Spider-Man” is currently showing in theaters. The film stars Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans, Martin Sheen, Chris Zylka, C. Thomas Howell, Sally Field, Embeth Davidtz, Denis Leary, Hannah Marks, Campbell Scott, Annie Parisse, Stan Lee, Kelsey Chow, Amber Stevens, Michael Massee, Irrfan Khan, Megan Taylor, Skyler Gisondo, and Michael Papajohn. Alvin Sargent, Steve Kloves, and James Vanderbilt wrote the screenplay, based on characters created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. Marc Webb directs.