There are movies that make you talk in unfinished sentences. You exit the theatre, shaking your head in awe or aggravation and saying things like 'That was just so...' or 'What the effing hell...'. But as we walked out of 'The Amazing Spider-Man', we were rendered speechless, unsure of whether to curse out loud about sky-high expectations being dashed to bits, or to just let this movie slide and wait for 'The Dark Knight Rises' to make the world a better place again. Excuse the hyperbole - it's not that 'The Amazing Spider-Man' is terrible. It's just that it could have been so, so, SO much more.
What's it about?
Scientist Richard Parker and his wife are forced to hand over the care of their son Peter to uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) and Aunt May (Sally Field). It then cuts to the present, where Peter (Andrew Garfield) is an outcast at high school, fantasizing about miniskirt-clad science intern Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) and getting beaten up in the playground. One day, he finds his father's briefcase and a newspaper cutting that leads him to Oscorp Industries to track down his father's partner, Dr Curt Conners (Rhys Ifans). While he's there scouting for clues about his dad's disappearance, Peter gets bitten by a radioactive creepy-crawly and Spider-Man is born. He returns to Oscorp with Richard's notes and helps Connors prepare a serum that will help regenerate lost limbs - a project that's especially dear to Connors since he's an amputee himself. All's well until Connors turns guinea pig, tries the serum on himself and turns into the Lizard.
Garfield is very easy on the eye, but as you watch him you're struck by a sense of deja vu. Everything from his bungling high school act (Tobey Maguire) to his shock of hair (Robert Pattinson) feels familiar. And worse? You've seen it all done better before. The romantic angle is also a let-down. While Kirsten Dunst and Tobey Maguire put the 'aww' in awkward in the original series, the chemistry between Garfield and Stone makes you sigh out loud - in exasperation.
The story meanders down a winding road. It starts off with Peter desperate to learn about his parents' disappearance, but that track goes virtually unexplored as the movie plods on. There's the promise of a sequel that might answer some of these questions, but you can't help but feel a bit cheated, considering that all the promos indicated that we would learn a lot more about Peter's origins in the film. Instead what we get is standard save-the-world spiel and there have been other Marvel superheroes this year who've done a more entertaining job of that.
On the plus side, some of the sequences do stand out. There's a neat montage of skateboard stunts to Coldplay's 'Til Kingdom Come', Stan Lee's cameo puts a smile on your face and it's fun to see Peter discover his new powers on the tube. The character you empathize most with is Ifans' and the actor turns in a fine performance as a crippled, frustrated genius. Also Irrfan wasn't lying. There's precious little to write about his performance, though the good thing is that he certainly doesn't make a mess of his almost walk-on of a role.
What to do?
Teenage girls who've been having wet dreams about Andrew Garfield need no telling, but for the rest of you, this is strictly amateur fare. Fans are better off renting out the Raimi series because this new Spidey spins one weak web.
in.com rating: 2.5/5
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