The Amazing Spider-Man, a reboot of the 2002-2007 Spider-Man trilogy and the second motion picture release from director Marc Webb of 500 Days of Summer fame, follows high school outcast Peter Parker as he discovers secrets behind the mystery of his parents' disappearance and, consequently, acquires super-human abilities that lead him to become New York's web-slinging defender and the prime target for a villain on the rise.
In his 2012 re-imagining, Parker (Andrew Garfield) has turned into a bit of a skate rat--his low-rise skinny jeans and trusty board in tow--who still, apparently, has a knack for science and fancies fellow student Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone), the police captain's daughter. Stone's portrayal of Spidey's first love interest is much more likeable than Bryce Dallas Howard's character first introduced in Spider-Man 3, having convincingly depicted a smart, friendly girl-next-door type (who so happens to have a high-profile internship at OsCorp Industries). Definitely a step up from Howard's role as a two-dimensional supermodel thrown into the cast just to complete a jagged love triangle.
Once bitten by a genetically-engineered spider in a re-vamped, intricate sequence, Peter Parker's transition from average Joe to hero plays out quite differently than that of the film's predecessors--having a lengthy period of sickness, paranoia, and unusual habits wash over him as he learns to cope with his "spidey senses"--resulting in, without a doubt, the most humorous scenes in the entire movie.
Marvel Spider-Man creator Stan Lee does make another cameo, outdoing the final film of the trilogy yet again with his brief, non-speaking appearance comically placed amidst a surprising setting. Unfortunately, the praise for this film ends here.
Although The Amazing Spider-Man stays true to the original comic books of the 1970's, it does not, however, stay true to the spirit of the characters. Garfield exerts a dark, almost tormented, image as Peter Parker, fueled by unnecessary flashbacks that neither add depth nor insight to his parents' disappearance, and completely dissever any traces of the genuine relatability that fans have admired for the last 40 years. You come to find that you are not actually watching an action-packed superhero movie with a great storyline, but instead, a teen drama about raging mood swings, angsty themes of self-indulgence, and slowly-progressing plot devices.
Once you get past the training montage with some inspirational soft rock song playing in the background and a few antics in the school gym, character relations start to falter. Peter's guardians, Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) and Aunt May (Sally Field), rarely interact with their nephew on an emotional level, the exception being Sheen's few speeches about morality and the importance of respect. Uncle Ben's murder and the events that follow shortly after are done in poor taste; while tracking the killer, Peter shows little anger and does not seem distraught by his uncle's death, even finding time to crack a few bad jokes with some local thugs. Peter's less-than-passionate search for Uncle Ben's murderer ends as quickly as it begins. He never finds the man, but of course, the writers want to leave some loose ends to tie up so that there can be a sequel (and more profit).
Then there's the romance. While Garfield and Stone may be in a real relationship outside of the film, it does not translate into their acting and deliveries. The initial goal was to have their exchanges seem awkwardly cute and endearing, but the audience can only cringe and painfully shift in their seats until the cheesy quips are over. These quips are by no means enticing or clever, and consists primarily of "uh," "I dunno," "um," and "Huh?", making it appear as though the actors forgot their lines and are fumbling for words as the camera is rolling. Eventually, Peter reveals to Gwen that he is Spider-Man out of a fit of adolescent lust, not keeping in mind the consequences that could follow. "I've been bitten." By the love bug?! "So have I..." Ugh. Close enough.
Another dastardly green villain with Jekyll and Hyde Syndrome graces the screen, this time in the form of a cartoonish lizard humanoid who somehow has the ability to summon an exotic array reptiles across the concrete jungles of New York on command. Originally an esteemed scientist on the verge of creating a serum to help regenerate limbs and develop super-human strength, Dr. Connors held much potential as a menacing villain. His foreseeable transformation as "The Lizard," however, was just too much of an imitation of The Green Goblin. Same back story, same dual personalities, same color... The only purpose The Lizard had was to compensate for the lack of action sequences and to initiate a bevy of dinosaur jokes and obscure Godzilla references... again and again.
When Garfield finally dons the trademark Spidey suit, one expects the light-hearted humor and memorable fight scenes to begin. That would be the case, if you were watching another Spider-Man movie. This film focuses on an inexperienced Spider-Man as he tries to learn the ropes of heroism, which would have been fine, except for the fact that there still should be some common sense involved. When there is a child inside a burning car dangling over the edge of a bridge that could collapse any second, it is best not to strike a lengthy conversation and to just save him. "What's your name?"... "How're you doing?"... "Everything's going to be alright." I'm guessing the kid isn't doing too well since, you know, he is on the verge of death. On a different note, Spider-Man should never carry a cell phone with him while he is in action, for obvious reasons.
One perplexing aspect is trying to figure out why the police force is so against Spider-Man. It seems as if the writers made it a priority to include this confusing feud in the plot, since there is no J. Jonah Jameson to fill the role of Public Enemy #1. In compliance with that idea, the NYPD becomes so wrapped up with capturing Spider-Man, that they ignore the actual threat. Why stalk Spider-Man and shoot him with tranquilizers when there is a giant, mutant lizard rampaging through the city at the exact same moment? Then again, the squad isn't really that focused anyway. Apparently, "Hold fire" is code for "Get 'em good, son!"
Finally, the newly-arranged music score by James Horner is actually quite nice. It's soft, pretty, rhythmic, and holds strong during scenes of tenderness. However, it seems out of place for a superhero film. The score falls short in terms of powerful overtures that connote dashing bravado or valiant endeavors, and instead, would seem more appropriately placed in a drama about a lost love.
The questionable necessity of a reboot remains. Nevertheless, an inevitable fact is that The Amazing Spider-Man will be compared to Sam Raimi's original trilogy, since the adaptations are barely a decade apart. Even so, this comparison would not be justifiable since the films are completely separate entities, armed with different interpretations and a different generation. The Amazing Spider-Man, unfortunately, happens to be the lesser of the two.