Courtesy of Jaime Trueblood
Five years after the abysmal mess that was “Spider-Man 3,” the Spider-Man franchise gets a shiny new reboot with “The Amazing Spider-Man,” starring Andrew Garfield of the gravity-defying hair and current It Girl Emma Stone.
Whether the franchise needed a restart so soon is still in question, but “The Amazing Spider-Man” is a worthy reimagination to the ailing series, despite borrowing heavily from its superhero predecessors. The film seems to depend on you having seen the previous Spider-Man movies, feeling more like a prequel than a solid, standalone film.
It may be because Peter Parker (Garfield, “The Social Network”) spends most of the movie as Parker, not donning the iconic Spider-Man costume until two-thirds into the movie. It was an interesting departure from the original film, one of many liberties the movie tries to take to distinguish itself from the original trilogy. Unfortunately, by doing this, it borrows heavily on tired tropes and clichés that you would find in a typical superhero movie.
The first thing “The Amazing Spider-Man” does to mark its next-gen vibe is inject a little mystery into Parker’s origin story. His parents mysteriously vanish one night, leaving him in his aunt and uncle’s care.
His father’s groundbreaking scientific research—which Parker discovers in (what else?) a secret compartment—leads him to Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans, “The Five-Year Engagement”), whose research in cross-species genetics brings Parker to his fateful heroic path, not to mention the girl of his dreams, Gwen Stacy (Stone, “The Help”). We all know how the story goes from there: he gets bitten by a genetically-enhanced spider, becomes a hero, gets the girl, solves the mystery, yada yada yada. Despite touting itself as new and improved, “The Amazing Spider-Man” is as standard as you get.
But the impressive CGI action scenes and talented cast help lift this movie up from mediocrity. Garfield playfully toes the line between fun and angst, delivering a hilariously snarky line one moment, then screaming in anguish (in the rain, no less) the next. The only problem is that, despite some flashes of scientific brilliance, Garfield doesn’t nearly look nerdy enough to pull off the teenage outcast role.
Stone plays the demure, but equally nerdy Stacy, Parker’s original girlfriend in the comics. Their awkward courtship is one of the most entertaining parts of the film. But like the rest of the movie, it sadly succumbs to angst.
The rest of the supporting cast, which includes Martin Sheen (“The Departed”), Sally Field (“Two Weeks”) and Denis Leary (“Rescue Me”), boast impressive credentials but don’t get much to do. The movie lies heavily on Garfield’s shoulders, and he carries it well.
The action scenes are wonderfully edited, fast-paced and engaging. There are plenty of scenes that will appease comic book fans, as the movie cleverly alludes to scenes from both the comic book universe and the original movie franchise.
“The Amazing Spider-Man” is a solid start to a new series and continues Marvel’s current success streak. But despite its attempts to break away from the original franchise, it makes you a little nostalgic to see Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man. Whether it was worth the reboot is for the audience to decide.