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The Amazing Spider-Man - Cinemaholic Movie Reviews
one person's obsessive addiction to film
The Amazing Spider-Man
Directing: C+
Acting: B
Writing: C
Cinematography: B+
Editing: B+
Special Effects: B+

You know, as long as you're just going to rehash every other super-hero movie released pretty much every year since -- well, since any of us can really remember anymore -- the least you can do is provide more than one or two fleeting shots that show how flattering that "unitard" is on Andrew Garfield. I mean, that's what we're here for, isn't it? Okay, semi-correction: it's what I'm here for. Instead, we get a lot of clearly deliberately placed angles and shadows, lest we see how revealing that outfit really is.

And aside from that, we now have an answer to the burning question: Did the world really need a Spider-Man reboot only ten years after Tobey Maguire first donned the Spidey suit? In a word: no.

But! Is it fun to watch anyway? Yeah, I guess, in a been-there, done-that sort of way. There seems to be a growing consensus that The Amazing Spider-Man is better than Spider-Man 3, but I disagree. That movie may have tried a bit too hard and missed the mark a tad but at least it offered something new. This one really doesn't. Not that that really stops any of us from being entertained, which is all any of us come to a movie like this for.

And The Amazing Spider-Man does have its strengths. Andrew Garfield is one of them. He's not just a hot guy in a unitard; he has genuine charisma. Okay, if you look too closely at his face you kind of wonder how the hell anyone believes he's supposed to be in high school. (Garfield himself is 28.) The same could be said of Emma Stone, age 23, as Gwen Stacy, to a slightly lesser degree. But they have such great chemistry these things are easy to forget.

There's a lot of great casting here. We get Martin Sheen as Uncle Ben and Sally Field as Aunt May. Dennis Leary is the police captain who happens to be Gwen's dad. Then there's Rhys Ifans as the villain -- "The Lizard." This is where comic book adaptations have a tendency to get close to flying off the rails. Some villains are iconic and compelling (Lex Luthor; The Joker); some are just bonkers. I think The Lizard qualifies as the latter. This seems to be one of Spider-Man's problems, actually.

Oh, we get a "scientific" explanation for it. Dr. Conners is missing an arm, and has spent a lifetime obsessing over "cross-species genetics," focusing on the tail-regenerating properties of lizards. Naturally something goes wrong and, instead of figuring out a way to re-grow his arm, he turns into a giant lizard. Maybe this isn't the dumbest thing I've ever heard, but it's close. I guess he still makes a better villain than The Green Goblin.

The villain, the hero, the origins, the stakes -- this is all familiar territory, whether it's a Spider-Man movie or another superhero movie. The one notable difference is that, unlike Tobey Maguire's Spider-Man, Andrew Garfield's Peter Parker uses self-made contraptions to spin his webs rather than shooting them directly out of his wrists. That doesn't mean he doesn't have superhuman abilities; he can climb walls, after all. How he can turn the stickiness of his extremities off and on at will is never explained.

All that said, if you come to a movie like this for exciting action -- and of course, plenty of people do -- The Amazing Spider-Man delivers. The action set pieces are filled with the requisite thrills and suspense, and there are some beautifully rendered shots, particularly when it comes to some of the webs that get spun. There's no iconic scene like the one of an upside-down Spider-Man kissing Mary-Jane Watson, but I guess you can't have everything. The broad story arc in this movie is nothing more or less than patented Hollywood formula, but many of the scenes taken individually stand well on their own strengths. It's just that, in the end, this movie is less than the sum of its parts.

Andrew Garfield sticks to formula in THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN.

Overall: B
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