|The Amazing Spider-Man|
While the specifics were changed slightly the origin story plays out very similarly to the first film. I was almost disappointed. I really think that they should have more fully developed Peter as a character both before and after the spider bite before killing Uncle Ben. What's the purpose of redoing this very familiar story unless you're going to enlarge it and examine it in greater detail?
Everything in this film just seems to have a... labored quality to it. Even Spider-Man swinging around isn't easy. Unlike the previous films, New York is choked full of obstacles to swing around in this film such as clotheslines, birds, fire escapes, cranes, telephone wires... you name it. I guess this reflects the more gritty realism of this film. Unfortunately, the story has this same struggling-to-move-forward feeling to it.
Much of the film relies far too heavily on coincidence. Without giving too much away there are far too many times in the story that something just HAPPENS TO HAPPEN that propels the story forward but doesn't make a whole lot of sense. At one point, Spider-Man receives what appears to be a grievous injury. He can barely stand. But then, all of a sudden, the injury is totally forgotten and never brought up again. And, near the finale of the film, there is a sequence that reeks of Hollywood set-up. Not only is it improbable, it's also completely unnecessary. Peter's relationship with Flash completely changes halfway through the film without explanation.
One shock to me was the casting for Uncle Ben and Aunt May. Ben is played by Martin Sheen. He does okay but comes up short in the role. Sally Fields as Aunt May was the real stretch. Gone is the white-haired old widow giving sage advice. Instead we have a more youthful woman who, instead of doting on Peter, doesn't ask ask any questions when he returns home night after night with mysterious cuts and bruises.
The film's big disappointment is with Peter's parents, however. To me, examining Peter's parents is what was suppose to set this film apart from the others. Quite simply, they failed to develop this adequately. We're given hints that there is a mystery surrounding their disappearance/deaths but we're given very little actual evidence. The film really sets itself up for a sequel to more fully explore the mystery.
The Lizard/Dr. Connors is a pretty straightforward villain. Visually, he looks great and the action sequences with him are very well done. He makes a great physical match for Spidey. My complain with him is that he lacked depth. Sure, he poses a threat to the city but the whole, "I created him," seemed to be a bit of a stretch to give the villain emotional weight.
The effects are really great. We don't get nearly enough Spider-Man swinging action as I would have liked but when we do get some it's amazing. The shots from Spidey's POV are spectacular.
Emma Stone is the real star of the film. As Gwen Stacy she bats her beautiful eyes and makes you wonder why Gwen can't have her own movie. There's one great sequence when she's trying to convince her father not to come into her room.
Andrew Garfield is a great Peter Parker and Spider-Man. He's got a very natural smile and he nailed the angst-filled teenager role.
I liked the angle the film takes on Spider-Man and the law. Captain Stacy is determined to capture Spider-Man as a "vigilante." This is a reoccurring theme from the comics that was absent from prior films.
Notably absent is J. Jonah Jameson although we do briefly see the Daily Bugle news station. Norman Osborne is mentioned several times but does not make an appearance in the film... sequels, anyone? Harry's classmates are likewise trimmed down to just Gwen and Flash. If this movie is about Peter's high school years why not more fully flesh out his school friends?
So in conclusion, although this film certainly has its flaws I think you'll find watching it to be an overall enjoyable experience.
1LR REVIEW - 13 out of 20! It's a Glancing Hit!