Friday, September 28, 2012

The Amazing Spider-Man (Marc Webb, 2012) -- C

Let's set the bar rather low, to begin: Is there anything particularly wrong with The Amazing Spider-Man, Marc Webb's (lol) reboot, just a decade removed from Sam Raimi's original? In a sense, no - it zips along at a pleasant enough speed, is well-shot, and features warm, affable performances from Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone. Now, let's take that bar a foot higher: does The Amazing Spider-Man do anything particularly interesting? Aside from more thoroughly attempting to unlock the psychology of the titular web-slinger by having his ethics and patience more fully contested when Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) bites the dust, or allowing Garfield the chance to brood and soul-search before donning the body suit - no. Little about The Amazing Spider-Man is able to transcend a palpable sense of deja vu and, more precisely, franchising run amok. Nevertheless, during the final half hour, as Spidey flies along the NY cityscape, Webb finds an ironic, metropolitan sublime, where the enormous buildings and energy-sucking lights of the city provide vision and sight to a "hero" trying to take down a giant lizard (not sure what the metaphor is there - he's just a big-ass lizard). Problem is, Webb doesn't push the issue far enough - these potential ruminations remain backdrops to empty exposition and character development - very similar with The Avengers. If we raise the bar one last time, to ask if The Amazing Spider-Man is essential, our bar is well out of range from Spidey's web. In an era that affords directors like Webb a 200 million dollar budget, there's no excuse why ideas and intelligence (which are, essentially, free) cannot be fused into mega-productions. If they are not, it is time to abandon all mercy and contrition and just be blunt: The Amazing Spider-Man dangles, like the unhealthy, consumerist excrement it is.

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