In The Amazing Spiderman we see Spiderman more without the suit than with it. We also see him less as an untouchable comic book superhero and more as one of us mortals. The question then becomes: “Is this the same brand or a new one?” Here’s a short summary from IMDB: Peter Parker finds a clue that might help him understand why his parents disappeared when he was young. His path puts him on a collision course with Dr. Curt Connors, his father’s former partner. It was directed by Marc Webb known for 500 Days of Summer and No Doubt: Return of Saturn. Its stars include Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker, Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy, and Rhys Ifans as Lizard.
This film is a darker, more gritty, telling of the classic comic than the earlier franchise. It unfortunately has a laboriously long section of Peter’s life before the Spidey suit and spends way too much time developing minutae like how his glasses belonged to his father. Still, it is interesting to see what they do differently. Another liability is how Peter and Gwen are both played by actors pushing 30. They are meant to be in high school. At times I thought they were in college. Another different thing is that Peter has a much more stormy relationship with Aunt Mae and Uncle Ben. For example, Peter is almost expelled after fighting with the school bully on the basketball court. Uncle Ben chews him out for this, an act I can’t comprehend the old Ben doing.
When these hundreds of millions of dollars are being spent on a per-established brand, character development is probably not important. What is important is that you follow the parts of the formula that work. There is a villain, a lizard, whose character is a part of the formula but he is also underdeveloped. As an aside, in my opinion he looks really fake. I’ve seen better CGI on National Geographic dinosaur documentaries. He’s not really sure if he likes Spiderman or not which is very confusing. We also never learn the true nature of the relationship between Peter’s parents and the lizard. Perhaps this was purposely left out for the sequel.
The new Spider Man runs amok doing whatever he feels at the moment. Once however he stops to truly focus on making a web spinner that would require hours of intense tedium and patience in real life. I don’t think with his what looked like ADD he could do such a thing. Flying maniacally on buildings and suddenly having this sort of patience is part of the muddy portrayal of Peter Parker. When he gets into the suit it isn’t much better. The Amazing Spiderman is not as good as the prior Spiderman trilogy because it assumes we are already on board with the new Spiderman’s vision. I for one needed to be shown and I never got that privelege. Here’s my last thing on character development: the romance with Gwen Stacy comes off as staged with awkward dialogue. A couple of times I could have sworn he spoke with an unintended stutter. I didn’t care if they ended up together, it felt as if their relationahip was obligatory top the movie and without passion. He is unlike the previous Spiderman in many ways. In fact, we see a superhero here more like Kickass than a comic book one.
In conclusion: There is very little that is “new” for us in this film. Of course, it is always fun flying around with Spiderman and there is a truckload of that. I think fans with an open mind will enjoy it but at the same time wish it “felt” like Spiderman. Perhaps it was the name that made this explains why Stan Lee himself financed this “prequel/remake” as its executive producer. We will never know for sure. Incidentally, Stan Lee does appear in a scene where Spidey is smashing through the high school library wall. Lee has headphones on while grooving to music. Based on the number of screens Spider Man was playing on here in our High Desert theaters, Lee is grooving all the way to the bank. As for me and whether this movie was a great action comic retelling, I’ll have to say it falls short. Despite its scattered portrayal of Peter Parker and a lousy CGI villain, this movie won points with its skyscraper scenes and other compelling special effects. I guess we will never know how it would have done if it had its own title and its own original characters.