Best to be clear from the get-go: I’m not a terrible admirer of Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man films. Any of them. They’re not horrible or anything (well, maybe the third one), but for the most part, they are too glossed over. Too clean and happy and forced. J.K. Simmons helps make them bearable, as does a batshit crazy Willem Dafoe, and, later, Alfred Molina.
Point is, I wasn’t fan of the originals, and when it was announced that a new Spider-Man reboot was being released just five years after Raimi’s last Spidey flick, I couldn’t help but roll my eyes.
Webb’s film isn’t a whole hell of a lot different than Raimi’s first Spider-Man movie (I know it may not be fair to compare, but when they’re this similar, how can I not?). Raised by his aunt and uncle after his parents’ mysterious deaths, Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) is a high school nerd who, after a set of absurdly convenient circumstances, finds himself bitten by a scientifically engineered spider, thereby adopting some groovy super powers. When his uncle (Martin Sheen) is murdered, he sets out to find the guy who did it, but winds up, you know, saving the world instead.
I mentioned convenient circumstances before, and at the risk of harping on nagging plot holes (as I did in my Avengers review), there are a few things that simply cannot go unmentioned here. In order to achieve his super powers, Peter finds himself in a secret lab at Oscrop Tower, which is headed by Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans). So, if you are willing to accept that Peter was able to 1.) Get 10 steps through Oscorp’s lobby dressed like a stoned-out hipster from the ‘90s, 2.) Be issued a security badge without showing any form of identification, and 3.) Sneak away and access a super secret lab with a temporary intern security badge then, sure, I guess you can appreciate what’s happening.
Look, I get it. I understand that, yes, this is a super hero movie, which requires a great deal of suspension of disbelief from those watching it. I know not everything in The Amazing Spider-Man is meant to be taken literally. I’m cool with giving a little slack, but scenes like the one I just described isn’t me giving the film a hard time, it is lazy, convenient filmmaking.
And that’s just one of the reasons this flick didn’t work for me. Others include CGI that looks no better than the Spider-Man from 2002, and the film’s curious rush in the time it introduces its villain, to the time said villain decides to take over the world (seriously, it’s a matter of minutes… usually there is some grandiose planning to be done).
The question: is The Amazing Spider-Man better than Raimi’s Spider-Man? I’m the wrong person to ask. There are parts of Raimi’s first and second films that I enjoyed a lot, and there are a handful of things here that I cared for (namely Campbell Scott as Peter’s father, Emma Stone as Peter’s love interest and Dennis Leary as a police captain), but for me to say one is better than the other is to assume that they are different enough to be critiqued separately. Which, really, they are not. D+