DIRECTED BY MARC WEBB
Despite the trailer’s promise of an “untold story,” The Amazing Spider-Man, from aptly named director Marc Webb, is virtually a beat-for-beat retread of the opening chapter in Sam Raimi’s blockbuster Spider-Man trilogy. Once again, Peter Parker suffers a mutant spider bite; once again, his Uncle Ben imparts a lesson in responsibility before tragically biting the dust; and, once again, Peter’s well-meaning, would-be mentor descends into madness and villainy after biting off more than he can chew in an experiment gone wrong. Given the box office takings of Raimi’s original, you’ve likely quite literally seen it all before.
If there’s anything truly amazing about Sony’s second, contractually mandated crack at bringing Spider-Man’s beginnings to the big screen, it’s that franchise newcomers Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone manage to spare the premature redux from outright redundancy. Garfield’s “edgier,” skateboard-toting take on Parker may spur debate among longtime Spidey fans, but his chemistry with Stone’s Gwen Stacy is undeniable, and underpins most of the film’s best moments. Webb, too, deserves credit for overseeing some impressive, practically realized action sequences. Inevitably, the CGI work here is a vast improvement over the digital effects at Raimi’s disposal in 2002.
Generally, though, this Spider-Man is content to play things safe. Raimi’s films are memorable, in part, for the director’s willingness to accent the comic book material with distinctive campy flourishes. Webb’s effort lacks a comparable sense of personality, but will no doubt please his studio paymasters. Above all, this Spider-Man is polished summertime entertainment, functional yet abundantly familiar. Webb’s leads supply the spark, even if they never share a moment as iconic as Raimi’s impassioned, inverted, rain-sodden smooch.