The Amazing Spider-Man, 2012.
Directed by Marc Webb.
Starring Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans, Denis Leary, Martin Sheen, Sally Field, Irrfan Khan and Chris Zylka.
Peter Parker develops superhuman powers after being bitten by a genetically engineered spider.
$114,844,116. Hands up if you know what significance this number has in film history.
That’s right; it is the total opening weekend gross for the first film to break the $100 million-in-a-single-weekend barrier. And what was that film? Yes, it was Sam Raimi’s 2002 Spider-Man. The film took the box office by storm, smashing every record in sight and inadvertently becoming responsible for the never ending tirade of comic book-inspired movies we now see every year. Before this, there was only really Batman, Superman and the then single X-Men picture making money, but Sam Raimi and Spider-Man opened the floodgates and they’ve remained open ever since. Thanks to this revolutionary blockbuster and the realisation of the iconic character on the big screen for the first time, the comic book movie joined animation, best seller adaptations and TV remakes as the go-to choice for the major studios in need of a summer tentpole release.
Who can blame them? When you have a hit on your hands, the next logical step is to recapture that magic and sell it again and again and again in a different guise until people get sick of it. Raimi and Sony/Columbia were no different and 2004’s superior sequel, Spider-Man 2, still remains one of the best films in the comic book genre. But sadly, modern audiences have not grown sick of this rinse-wash-repeat formula and the summer releases are getting increasingly worse with an influx of remakes, reboots, and films based on board games and toys. But money, not quality or even a sense of a decent story, is all that seems to matter and in 2007 Raimi, too, fell into this trap and gave us a woeful conclusion to the trilogy with Spider-Man 3.
If only Sony would have given Raimi his own way in negotiations for the-then mooted fourth film, then we might not be faced with the utter failure that is The Amazing Spider-Man. Sure, the third film was terrible but I can’t believe the same team would have made the same mistakes again. It could have been the best of the series in an attempt to right the wrongs of 2007. But part 3 made a LOT of money and Sony knew there was life after Raimi. At the box office, maybe, but certainly not with Marc Webb at the helm. He shows a total lack of control and grasp of a huge budget in the same way Martin Campbell did on Green Lantern; both directors are way out of their league with the material and it shows in both films from very early on. The first-person camera fails to excite whilst the action shots are by-the-numbers and far too ‘safe’ for this size film. The direction looks like Webb was afraid to stamp any sort of authority on the picture and perhaps Sony execs were bullying him into making the film they wanted to see. It’s not unheard of but the leap between (500) Days of Summer and Spider-Man is obviously far too big for him.
Spider-Man should never have been subject to a reboot because the film, like it or not, will always be compared to the Raimi series and, with only a 10 year gap, it is rightly so. Sony and Marvel’s greed, lack of imagination and utter laziness is the real crime on show here with Webb left at the crime scene. It makes me furious to think Sony announced the release date of the sequel before this movie was even released. So sure they are in its success, the quality no longer dictates even the discussion of a sequel. It comes as no surprise when you think that Iron Man 2, Thor, and X-Men Origins: Wolverine are getting sequels, too.
Webb is certainly not alone in sharing the blame. Even Bryan Singer or Christopher Nolan can’t turn a truly diabolical script into something enjoyable for anyone over the age of 14 who needs more than loud noises and non-stop action; there are far too many plot holes and woefully contrived set-ups to allow the brain to switch off and appreciate the nonsense. If Superman: The Movie, The Dark Knight, Spider-Man 2 and X-2 hadn’t had scripts which made you believe, for even just the running time of the film, that what you are watching is actually happening in the world of the story, they too would be failures. But they had good stories, and they work each and every time they are viewed, despite any flaws they may have. It is not the intention of this review to provide spoilers so I’ll just give these key words; launch code; internal voices, liquid nitrogen (how would the character know?), antidote, lizard policemen... the list is endless.
The pacing is all over the place in this film. The first half is so incredibly dull as we watch the same story from 2002 being told over again but with a few amendments thrown in to justify its creation. The problem is simple; 10 years ago is not long enough to retell the same story that was told perfectly well and then built on from there. Does this mean The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter and the Star Wars prequels are to be rebooted as well? No one wants that, but the studios know tickets will be sold in their millions if they do. It’s an utterly boring affair.
As for the ‘action packed’ second half; it’s just as dull for not one of the scenes packs a punch or shows any sign of originality. Yes, the Spider-Man effects have been improved but so what? Raimi’s first two films were not built on the strength of the effects, but the strength of their stories and characters and believability. The CGI simply brought it to life, the writers and directors did the rest. The effects of the villain, a man sized lizard, are some of the worst you’re likely to see from a Hollywood release. So bad, they ruin any chance the villain had of showing any menace or threat, but good CGI is useless anyway without a story to back it up and the villain’s motivations in this film are to turn the humans into lizards for no other reason than to give Spider-Man something to do for a tiresome final hour.
Even the score is noticeably bad in the film; even the legend that is James Horner cannot find the right mark with The Amazing Spider-Man. The only people who come out of the wreck with only minor injuries are Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker and Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy but they are no better than Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst, just different.
But we didn’t ask for different, we didn’t ask for reboot, and we didn’t really want this at all. What we got was a minor improvement on Spider-Man 3, and that is no praise at all.
Flickering Myth Rating - Film: ★ / Movie: ★ ★
Rohan Morbey - follow me on Twitter.