July 12, 2012

'The Amazing Spider-Man' waste of time, resources


---- — The original “Spider-Man” and its first sequel are two of the best films in the ever-growing superhero genre — and since they were both made in the last decade, they remain fresh in the collective consciousness.

Sure, “Spider-Man 3” was a bit of a disappointment, but if ever a movie did not need a remake, it was “Spider-Man.”

Sony Pictures, however, needed an influx of cash, and “The Amazing Spider-Man” was born.

The franchise reboot, featuring Andrew Garfield (“The Social Network”) in the title role, isn’t a bad movie, but it doesn’t have a thread of originality, and it’s the early front-runner for the Most Unnecessary Film of 2012 award.

The special effects are more advanced than in the 2002 film, but “The Amazing Spider-Man” isn’t as funny or emotional as the original, and its villain isn’t as compelling.

For those few who are unfamiliar with the story, “The Amazing Spider-Man” tells the tale of nerdy high-schooler Peter Parker, who is bitten by a radioactive spider, acquires super powers, gets the girl and discovers that being a costumed hero has its drawbacks.

The new movie has a handful of differences aside from the new cast — the love interest is blond Gwen Stacy (played by redhead Emma Stone) instead of redhead Mary-Jane Watson (played by blond Kirsten Dunst); there is nary a single appearance by surly, scene-stealing newspaperman Jonah Jameson; Spider-Man’s web shooters are artificial, not organic.

The basics, and many of the specifics, are the same, however.

Garfield isn’t bad as Peter Parker, bringing a good level of energy and his own angst-ridden charm, but he lacks the fresh-faced innocence of Tobey Maguire. Garfield looks more like the cool kid at school, not the unpopular dweeb.

As Spider-Man discovers the magical things that he can do, Garfield doesn’t display the same exhilarating sense of wonder that Maguire did — possibly because we’ve all seen it before.

The token mad scientist in this one is Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans), who wants to find a way to re-grow his own lost arm using reptilian DNA. Not surprisingly, this leads to a villain known as The Lizard, who has pretty good makeup, but isn’t as menacing, isn’t as complex, isn’t as interesting as the Green Goblin or Dr. Octopus.

The new film does give us a brief introduction to Peter Parker’s missing parents, and it has a strong supporting cast.

Martin Sheen and Sally Field lend some heft to the roles of Uncle Ben and Aunt May. Stone’s Gwen flashes a lot of short skirts and boots and ignites some sparks with Garfield. Denis Leary is appropriately gruff as the chief of police, and Gwen’s dad.

All things considered, “The Amazing Spider-Man” isn’t bad; it’s just a waste of time and resources.

Rental Recommendation: Previously, Marc Webb directed the superb romantic comedy “(500) Days of Summer.” Grade: A