Throughout my viewing of The Amazing Spider-Man I had this thought in mind: "Didn't we just have this movie about a decade ago?" Sure, we have a new Peter Parker in the form of Andrew Garfield; mopey Mary Jane is out and Emma Stone is in as Gwen Stacy; there is some backstory involving Peter's parents; and they've tweaked some of the specific details as to how Peter becomes spider-powered, how he discovers his powers and how it effects people, but underneath it all, it's pretty much the same movie we saw with Tobey Maguire as Spidey in 2002, right down to the same accidental villain conceit in which a generally decent guy is turned evil by scientific misadventure.
Garfield is a marked improvement over Maguire, able to express the myriad of teen angst and issues he's going through without seeming like a little emo bitch about it. Stone is adorable and spunky, though not as much fun to see soaking wet in the rain, if you know what I mean. (Click here in case you don't. Hiyo!) The supporting performances from Martin Sheen and Sally Field as Uncle Ben (of rice fame, psyche!) and Aunt May are scene-stealers as well as Denis Leary's Capt. Stacy. I didn't care for Rhys Ifans as Dr. Curt Connors/Lizard, but that's because he's not really fleshed out, if you pardon the pun.
I'd skip seeing it in 3D because the action is mostly at night, very fast moving, and too close to get a good sense of the geography. Director Marc Webb, who directed my fave film of that year with (500) Days of Summer, does OK with the action, but is better with the quiet character scenes. Those are also helped because they're the only fresh notes in the familiar tune of the overall story, many of the story beats are totally lifted from the prior films. Can't we just assume that audiences know the back story of the character and move on with new tales?
Score: 5/10. See it at the dollar show.
While I was blah on it, my girlfriend really liked it, especially odd because Spider-Man 2 had sort of put her off of comic book movies. She was so-so on The Avengers (yeah, sad isn't it?) and I had to drag her to see X-Men: First Class, which she grudgingly admitted liking. She enjoyed the story and the new details, probably because it wasn't so familiar to her. So, ladies, have at it.
At last year's San Diego Comic-Con, this neat moment happened. It's a total setup, but it was a great PR stunt and shows how Garfield was legitimately enthused about playing the part.