Ten years ago I was hyped because for the first time a long time favorite superhero of mine would come to the big screen in an era that could do justice to him. Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man was a great success both financially as well as critically. It had some pacing problems like most origin stories as well as some stupid design choices when it came to the Green Goblin’s mask, but overall I enjoyed the movie and it’s successor even more. Like most people the third installment collapsed under it’s own weight due to two villains whom both didn’t receive the character depth they deserved. Despite these shortcomings a part four could easily have been a comeback for the old web slinger but the movie studio decided to reboot the whole franchise a mere 10 years after the first movie was released. A choice which brought new possibilities to the franchise, but also presented a couple of problems.
The Amazing Spider-Man is, especially for the first half, a slightly darker retelling of 2002’s Spider-Man. The story remains largely the same: a young nerdy teenager who is bullied at school gets bitten by a radioactive/genetically altered/mutated/whatever spider and develops spider-like super powers. He gets arrogant at first and uses his powers for personal gain like putting the bullies in their place, but when his uncle gets killed by a robber he could have stopped he learns that with great power comes great responsibility. Though the execution varies from the previous movie this all feels very familiar and it might have been a better choice, instead of rehashing the first half of the movie, to just make a prologue in the movie and starting off where the second half begins now. Is there any use in showing us something we already saw in another movie less than 10 years ago?
The writers decided to use a villain that hasn’t been used already; The Lizard. A character who was hinted at as a possible villain in all three Raimi movies as his alter ego Curt Connors was in those movies as well. Here he’s played by Rhys Ifans and his lizard is a more humanized version of the one in the comics, where he was just a raging beast. This lizard character is more of a schizophrenic side to Connors with added exterior changes. He developed a plan to change the whole city in half humans half lizards and it’s up to Spider-man to stop him.
In order to distance themselves from the Raimi movies they use a more darker approach. While Raimi’s movies all had a bold palette of colors, The Amazing Spider-man is a tad more darker; most of the action takes places at night in dark alleys and even when it’s day it’s always during dusk or dawn. They also chose to go with the characters that played important roles in the first few years of the comics like the doomed Captain Stacy and his equally doomed daughter Gwen Stacy. Whether they are also doomed in this movie I’ll leave for you to find out yourselves but this does give the movie the same threatening vibe the same way Bane’s character did for The Dark Knight Rises. A lot of familiar characters don’t pop up here; Betty Brant, J. Jonah Jameson and Robbie Robertson are nowhere to be found.
Though the creators tried to keep things fresh while rehashing a familiar story the end product is clearly something that could have been much better. It’s a standard superhero origin movie and though some names have changed it still is a carbon copy of Spider-Man, including the genius inventor going mad due to his own inventions and trying to destroy New York. I expected more of this movie and it just doesn’t justify it’s own existence.