The first time I found out Sony decided to reboot their incredibly successful Spider-Man franchise, the first and only thought that went through my mind was "What's the point?" Sam Raimi's colorful, somewhat campy yet surprisingly grounded trilogy made tons of money, and even though the underwhelming third film was deemed a disappointment by fans, it was still one of the highest grossing films of the year.
By the time The Amazing Spider-Man was released, it had only been ten years since Sam Raimi's first Spider-Man broke box-office records. And here we were, being asked to sit through more or less the same origin story. A better-looking, cooler, wisecracking Spidey and a new villain are not enough to sit through the same film when the original is still so fresh in our minds. Especially when that story is retold with such a dull and haphazard execution that the only thing it achieves is reestablishing our appreciation of Raimi's original.
When this new concoction came out in theatres, I didn't bother seeing it for the reasons mentioned above. I kept hearing from hard-core Spidey fans about how this version sticks so much closer to the spirit of the comics. That may be so, but old school comics and modern cinema are two different mediums and a bit more credibility is required with the latter to create a feasible suspension of disbelief.
I thought the change into organic web slingers by the Raimi films was a touch of genius. In the comics, Peter Parker conveniently develops a kind of super powerful webbing by himself, a material even the biggest corporations and scientists in the world can't build. He's bitten by a radioactive spider and can do "Everything a spider can." What's the big deal about adding organic webbing?
The reboot, directed by an obviously inexperienced Marc Webb (Did he get the job simply because his name offered an obvious pun?), creates a Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) who's way too cool for the character we're used to and is a bit of a jerk, when he's not conveniently awkward and shy in order to provide the bare minimum of nerditude.
There isn't much consistency in tone. First, he's a sulking introvert who mourns his parents and immediately, he's a wisecracking badass with some of the worse one-liners I've heard in a long time. I remember from the original comics and the 90s animated series that this incarnation of Marvel's tent pole character is closer to the original but when Webb and the writers try to add more tragic heft to the story, the lighter tone of the action scenes seem more out of place. When they try to achieve both Nolan's Batman and Donner's Superman within the same movie, the two kind of cancel each other out.
Speaking of Peter Parker's back-story, the appeal of the character, at least to me, has always stemmed from the idea that he was a regular high school nerd who happened to inherit superpowers simply through being at the wrong place at the wrong time. His aspirations are the same as any high school kid like him, which is to be appreciated by his peers and to get the girl of his dreams. Through this simple beginning, a hero rises.
The Amazing Spider-Man takes a wrong step from the first minutes by linking Peter's mysterious scientist parents to the super spider experiments that cause his powers. Adding a conspiracy angle to the story makes it unfortunately more similar to a lot of other superhero origin stories full of convenient coincidences.
We get a repeat of the same elements from Raimi's first Spider-Man, only executed in a more flat and disappointing fashion. The most frustrating is the way (SPOILER ALERT if you've been living under a rock for the past fifty years) Uncle Ben is killed.
The wrestling angle from the original provided Peter with plenty of guilt and brought home his uncle's message about letting go of selfishness for the good of other people. Peter selfishly puts his life in danger just because he wants the money to buy a car to impress Mary Jane and he indirectly causes Uncle Ben's death. The way it's handled in the reboot simply revolves around chocolate milk and a grocery store mishap.
The bad guy is a lame Godzilla knockoff, the love story is uninspired and J. Jonah Jameson is sorely missing. The Amazing Spider-Man is too dull, too long, and far too pointless. Stick to the original trilogy, you'll have a better time regardless of the disappointing Spider-Man 3.
The Amazing Spider-Man is now available on home video.