“The Amazing Spider-Man”: What happens when a bunch of people you love make an unnecessary and generic superhero origin story.
That’s really the biggest problem with “The Amazing Spider-Man,” a movie filled with a bunch of problems. Despite featuring some great character work from Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone, this movie never feels necessary. “The Amazing Spider-Man” is really a remake of Sam Raimi’s 2002 “Spider-Man.” That’s all. It only exists for monetary reasons — Sony didn’t want to make an expensive fourth film with Raimi and Tobey Maguire, so the studio made a slightly less expensive new film with Marc Webb. Hollywood blockbusters have always been products, but “The Amazing Spider-Man” is almost blatant in its financial motivations. More toys, more video games, more tickets! Never mind that half the film doesn’t even make sense because of what seem like obvious post-production cuts. (The internet is all over this.) Even the July 3 release date is craven: Of course Sony released “The Amazing Spider-Man” over the Fourth of July holiday. With nothing else in theaters, the studio is basically daring you to say no to this one. You haven’t; “The Amazing Spider-Man” has already earned $58 million through two days of release.
Beyond that, parts of “Spider-Man” are amazing … ly decent. Webb, best known for “(500) Days of Summer,” handles the relationship between Peter Parker and
Mary Jane Watson Gwen Stacy with the expertise of someone most comfortable creating indie romcoms. There’s an off-the-cuff energy in the scenes where Peter and Gwen are awkwardly courting each other; it all feels decidedly un-superhero-y. Those moments are the best part of “The Amazing Spider-Man,” and it’s hard to imagine two performers doing better in these roles than Garfield and Stone. Unfortunately, those moments are also too few and far between. By the time “The Amazing Spider-Man” sputters to its sequel-pushing finale, all the meet-cute charm has dried up in favor of Rhys Ifans’ terribly realized Lizard.
All of which is to say, “The Amazing Spider-Man” is not as bad as some superhero movies. You could do worse. (“Spider-Man 3,” cough.) Too bad it doesn’t need to exist.