It’s difficult not to compare “The Amazing Spider-Man” to the series it’s rebooting.
Peter Parker’s famous origin story is actually handled better here than in Sam Raimi’s original trilogy. Credit must go to Andrew Garfield for his brooding, yet comical and entirely relatable, portrayal of the character.
Emma Stone is great as the beautiful and intelligent love interest Gwen Stacy, Martin Sheen shines as Peter’s doomed Uncle Ben and director Marc Webb knows when to let emotional beats linger and breathe.
We’re retreading familiar ground here, but it’s great to see it done with such care and emotional adherence to the source material. It’s the fresher aspects of the story where the movie stumbles.
The as-advertised “untold story” of what happened to Peter’s parents serves little purpose other than to introduce the Lizard/Doctor Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans). Ifans brings a sense of weariness to the role that makes his reasons for transforming into a giant lizard monster believable and tragic. But the visual effects of the Lizard lack that believability.
Still, Webb surprises with just how visually rich and well-directed the action is. The fights are thrilling and easy to follow, showing the transformation of an angry teen out for revenge to a hero who uses his power responsibly.
Cheesy at times and sometimes tonally confused, “Amazing Spider-Man” is far from perfect (in fact, it’s not even as good as just the train sequence in “Spider-Man 2”).
But it’s a solid start for a new series based on the enduring modern myth. And that’s kind of the point of myths, isn’t it? They’re meant to be retold.
By Jake New