How soon is too soon? Always when we’re talking about getting back together with your ex, but if we’re discussing superhero reboots, it seems like maybe 5 years is too soon.
So obviously, The Amazing Spiderman was bound to meet with some skepticism coming so soon after the last Spiderman franchise. How could it, in terms of technology, in terms of story, in terms of imaginative consciousness, be different enough to separate itself from its all-to-recent predecessor? Marc Webb and company set out to show that it was possible, despite the odds. And, to be honest, this film has some charming elements. In fact, we can say that this is a really fun, maybe even really good film, at least through the first half. Andrew Garfield’s Peter Parker is likeable, nerdy, and yet still cool enough to be believable as a character who steps into a new role as a hero. His interplay with Emma Stone’s Gwen Stacy is awkward, fun, and has real chemistry. If this were a simple teen flick, that first movement would earn it a top rating. We might even say that the Peter & Gwen story has more spark in the beginning than Toby Maguire ever had with Kirsten Dunst. Added bonuses in this film include Martin Sheen as Uncle Ben and Dennis Leary as Captain Stacy, Gwen’s disapproving policeman father. Nice performances from both.
Unfortunately, though, the film doesn’t stay in Midtown Science High School and the story trundles along. I have to be honest that I stopped enjoying it from when Peter Parker fully actualizes his new identity as Spiderman. The special effects are reminiscent, the dialogue becomes very much what we expect from one of Marvel’s “up-beat” products, and well it just feels like more of the same. This is where the movie steps so solidly into the shadow of the last franchise, even if it has some nice nuances at certain points (cell phones exist! and Spidey’s web has a bit more…consistence of concept). The worst of it, though, is that Parker’s character loses its center. We have action, chatter, and battling, but Peter stops being much of a person. Every now and then the story includes a meaningful look, a line of dialogue about fixing what we started, some bits about responsibility, etc. But these things don’t really come together.
The take away is that it doesn’t feel like there was really any good reason to make this reboot, except for the fact that Marvel executives couldn’t dream of letting their cash cow lie dormant for too long, not generating millions in merchandizing revenues as kids around the word clamor for Spiderman underwear and lunch boxes.
I really did like the first half, though. I preferred it to the last series, even. So even if I wouldn’t urge you to see this, I’ll be crossing my fingers that the second instalment will capitalize on the strengths of the first, and stop slinging the same tropes that we had before.