Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Regurgitated Arachnid-Kid

The Amazing Spider-Man       WWW Score: 70%

Something unimaginable happened after my screening of The Amazing Spider-Man - a fellow member of the press declared with absolute conviction: "It's a comic book movie, you have to give it a pass".

"Giving a pass" to The Amazing Spider-Man - or for that matter any film - is just cause for termination in my book. Movies need to stand on their own, without getting a shred of special treatment due to their subject or pedigree.

So with strict adherence to that edict: The Amazing Spider-Man is an interminably long and resoundingly pointless regurgitation that serves no other purpose but to stuff Sony's bank account with easy cash and keep Spidey's rights in-house for an additional five years.

Gordon Gekko got it wrong - greed is God-awful.

The webbed wonder’s remixed back story forms the first third of the vapid 3D revamp. If you’re waiting for the spandex suit that Under Armour engineers would marvel at, set your watch to wake you roughly 55 minutes after the first frame.

Whereas Sam Raimi’s run at the franchise had only Aunt May and Uncle Ben as the featured members of Peter Parker's family, director Marc Webb ((500) Days of Summer) opens the interminable odyssey with Parker getting dumped on his relatives' doorstep by his fleeing-from-something-nefarious father. The subplot introduced for obvious use down the line in the inevitable sequel(s) but offers zero emotional payoff here.

The film features one major upgrade over the original: Andrew Garfield. Though very much on the skinny side of the superhero ledger, Garfield was born to play the web-slinger. The bushy-maned Brit is considerably more convincing than the woefully miscast Tobey Maguire. Garfield's expertise with algorithms comes in handy as well, only this time around, he scrawls the things on pieces of paper instead of dorm room windows.

A bleached-blonde Emma Stone gets her patented perky on as Gwen Stacy, Spidey's original love interest, whose wardrobe consists solely of barely there skirts and knee-high boots. Garfield and Stone's chemistry is palpable; not altogether shocking considering their off-screen sparks.

Denis Leary capably fills the J. Jonah Jamison "I want nothing more in this world than to bag Spider-Man" role as the captain of the NYC PD, conveniently doubling as Stone’s dad for the romantic conflict angle.

Rhys Ifans goes all mad scientist as Dr. Curt Connors, the limb-challenged top dog at Oscorp, a biogenetic firm of sorts that's housed in a virtual Xerox of the Stark Tower. Ifans' Hulk-like transformation into The Lizard is the stuff of CGI-banality but I must say, the reptilian's uncanny ability to haul his massive array of lab equipment down into the sewer system and power the stuff with water swirling about is quite impressive - as in riotously so.

The Amazing Spider-Man feels every nanosecond of its 130 minute runtime. Webb apparently didn’t get the memo that the everything-but-the-kitchen-sink edition is strictly reserved for the DVD. The “time-to-move-along test" is failed ad nauseum.

While Webb's work on (500) Days of Summer was meritorious, there's a world of difference between an indie rom-com and a colossally-budgeted studio tentpole - the fit is way off. His implementation of 3D technology is notably weak - indiscernible even. The expected thrill of seeing Spider-Man sling from skyscraper to skyscraper with an added third dimension is inexplicably MIA.

By the time we reach the conclusion - if you aren't in REM sleep - get set for a hilarious plot development involving a slew of ginormous cranes. Then again, having the Soul Man himself, C. Thomas Howell, behind the undertaking almost made it passable.

After enduring The Amazing Spider-Man, one can't help but wonder what other franchise rebirth is in the pipeline. Everyone knows that Hollywood loves nothing more than to copy a financially successful business model, which this will undoubtedly and inexplicably be.

But don't blame those studio execs, I defy you to find me someone, nay anyone, who isn't stoked for a Harry Potter reboot in say, 2016.