Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The Amazing Spider-Man ★★

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    A dingy box in a flooded basement is re-positioned, and an unforeseen light shines upon a brown leather briefcase. The initials "RP" are etched onto the latch, thus creating the foundation for a trilogy of films intending to re-invent the story of Spider-Man. Although it is a brave attempt of romanticizing a superhero in a twenty-first-century light, we are ultimately left with a rather vacant feeling. With a lackluster plot and an exhibition of numerous shortcomings, "The Amazing Spider-Man" is nothing short of ordinary.

    Of course, many of the same components of the Spider-Man universe make it into this 2012 reboot. Uncle Ben and Aunt May are still the caretakers of a teenage Peter Parker; Flash Thompson continues to reign destruction on the flock of nerds at the local high school; Even Dr. Curtis Conners, who is removed as Peter's professor, continues to act as the premier scientist of New York City and remains a role model for our young superhero; Mary Jane, despite her seemingly irreplaceable presence, is superseded by another love interest. (The only notable difference comes in the form of blonde hair.)

    Gwen Stacy, who is portrayed by the young and talented actress, Emma Stone, becomes the leading lady in this rendition, which recounts the origin of your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. Stone is quite exuberant and kindles a sense of innocence out of her character, who is as beautiful as she is brilliant in the field of science. Stacy is very much a straight-laced young woman who happens to be the daughter of the police captain. She never asks to fall for this mysterious teenage boy, but cannot distance herself from the clutches of adolescent love.

    The life of young Peter Parker is no different than that of your stereotypical nerd. He is a science whiz, and his extracurricular activities include photography and being socially awkward. However, this Peter Parker does not entirely fit the description of your quintessential dork. His wardrobe is that of a proclaimed hipster, he wears contacts, and he displays the skills of a seemingly talented skateboarder.

    Nevertheless, Peter Parker attends Midtown Science High School and is at the top of his class. After coming across his father's briefcase in the basement of his aunt and uncle's home, Peter becomes infatuated with learning what happened to his parents on that dark and stormy night, which highlights the opening of the film. This will also lead Peter on a journey from within as he copes with his past and his new found abilities.

    Andrew Garfield takes on the lead role of Peter Parker and does his best to approach this character with his own sense of style and integrity. Garfield displays excellent awareness with his execution of dialogue and mannerisms, which helps to set the tone for the film. He comes off as a shy and relaxed individual, who can burst into emotion when necessary. In addition, Garfield and Stone's chemistry is clearly present, although it does seem forced at times.

    After becoming endowed with these extraordinary abilities, Peter decides to confront Dr. Curt Conners and give him the missing formula that would put his research over the top. However, coupled with the fact that Norman Osborn is dying and that an anecdote is needed, the pressure to enact human trials forces Dr. Conners to use the formula on himself, which leads to disastrous results. The Lizard is born, and it is up to Spider-Man to stop his reign of terror and the plan that would see all of New York City become humanized lizards.

    This all leads to a rather tedious climatic ending, which sees sacrifice and a touch of dumb luck. A promise is made and broken within the next few scenes; therefore, leaving us with the notion of a second film that will seemingly generate much of the same miscalculations that this film preserves. Longing for an atmosphere produced by films such as "The Dark Knight" is all but a misguided dream. Only a film of that magnitude would save this franchise from complete nonfulfillment.

    There are many things that we can look past with regard to this film, but it still cannot fill the void of dismay. Sure, we can get used to the fact that this Spider-Man uses a cell phone and that Ben Parker's murder scene is all but humdrum; however, there are many facets of this film that just cannot be overlooked. (This includes a scene in which Spidey learns of the Lizard's diabolical plan simply by pressing a button on Dr. Conner's computer, which, in turn, spawns miniature lizard men to sprout from a tower and cover the screen.) This makeover of Spider-Man is nothing more than an increased diet of CGI, which strives to overshadow the fallacies that believe a lack of planning and execution can yield a terrific film.

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