By now everyone already knows the premise, but in case you live under a rock—
Years after his parents disappeared, Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) finds a clue that might unravel the mystery. Following this lead, he visits Oscorp Industries to seek out Dr. Connors (Rhys Ifans), his father’s partner in researching cross-species genetics. There, he gets bitten by a genetically altered spider, gaining superhuman capabilities which he uses to round up criminals and impress Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone). But the same research that turns Peter into Spider-Man also transforms Dr. Connors into the vicious Lizard, whose evolutionary vision endangers New York City.
Young Peter has always been awkward, but in film he hasn’t exactly seemed very youthful. Although 28-year-old Garfield looks nothing like a pubescent, his charms lend a boyish aura to the new Spider-Man. His Peter is a tech-savvy teen who plays Bubble Shooter when bored, who gets reprimanded for forgetting errands and breaking curfew. His crush, the smart, self-possessed Gwen is a far cry from perpetual damsel-in-distress Mary Jane. She actually plays a pivotal role in saving the day, transcending the typical role of superhero love interest. But while the original Spider-Man series highlighted an adult relationship (with all its encumbrances), Marc Webb’s version presents a sweeter, more innocent love—not better, but refreshing.
That said, their first kiss doesn’t even come close to the iconic Spider-Man scene; but they don’t try to trump it—and no one can blame them. What I can’t dismiss, however, is the clumsily handled conclusion to the romance. Given what happened, Peter’s last quip—and Gwen’s responding smile—seem inappropriate. I also found the Uncle Ben part too downplayed, although I liked the portrayal of Peter’s grief, how he shuns even Gwen’s consolation. Lastly, one bugging omission: Where’d Peter get the Spidey suit?
The Amazing Spider-Man promotes itself as “the untold story,” but essentially it’s the same story re-told with more flair. Perhaps the sequel might hold up to that promise? For now, viewers can appreciate the spectacular action sequences, engineered for maximum visual pleasure, but not overwhelming enough to distract from the story. (It must be way more awesome in 3D, but with a free pass from Sarah, I’m not complaining.) It’s not the original, and it certainly doesn’t mark an industry milestone, but for a franchise reboot just five years after the last film? Not bad, not bad at all.
‘We all have secrets—the ones we keep…and the ones that are kept from us.’
‘Peter, secrets have a cost. They’re not free. Not now, not ever.’