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IN SHORT: Amazingly awful and not Ultimate. [Rated PG-13 for sequences of action and violence. 136 minutes]
Fanboys who make it to the end of The Amazing Spider-Man will be complaining -- in the common vernacular it's a word that rhymes with "witchin' -- about the uber-major change to established comic book continuity (in ASM #90) -- that takes up the very end of the reboot to movie continuity. "Reboot" is a common enough term. It means to throw out established (in this case movie) continuity, keep what the filmmakers feel to be essential, and start all over again. Online, fanboys have also been speculating that the new Spider-Man would follow the Ultimate Comics model. So, no, it doesn't. On to the movies . . .
So, we are now in Midtown High School, where Flash Thompson (Chris Zylka) beats up on all the smaller kids and Peter "Puny" Parker (Andrew Garfield) stands up to him. Peter gets his head handed to him, so to speak, but his bravery has impressed the lovely Gwen Stacey (Emma Stone) -- fanboys may now yell out "The One True Love of Peter Parker's Life!" -- and, of course, being teenagers the attraction is immediate but both are overwhelmingly shy. How refreshingly 1970!
Oh... Yeah... Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) and Aunt May (Sally Field). And the new set-up for Amazing: "As Peter discovers a mysterious briefcase that belonged to his father, he begins a quest to understand his parents' disappearance -- leading him directly to Oscorp and the lab of Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans), his father's former partner." (from the press notes)
And, in short order but rebooted for Amazing, Gwen is an intern at Oscorp, Peter sneaks in to meet Connors and is bitten by the spider. Gwen throws him out. Parker goes to Connors' home (well, duh) with information found in papers in his father's briefcase -- the parent's disappearance is never explained -- and Connors seizes on one formula in those papers. He will eventually by pushed to use said formula to try and restimulate the growth in what remains of his amputated, right arm -- and CG kicks in to bring us The Lizard !!! Meanwhile, Peter has put on a mask, hunting the killer of his uncle, Meanwhile, Gwen's father police Captain George Stacey (Denis Leary) wants to meet this boy, Peter. In his day job, Stacey is hunting this masked vigilante that's been webbing up villains in New York -- we should allow that the webbing is not organic and the screen sequence that covers the creation of Spidey's webbing and web-shooters is about as ineptly done as anything we've seen. That's written as both a critic and (once) a fanboy. Then . . .
stuff happens. We're not giving away everything. The "normal" parts of Peter's life are all adequate. The script and scene to scene continuity in the first hour is so awful that people in the "reserved section" of our screening -- the best seats -- were walking out in droves. Yours Cranky, a fanboy of the entire Lee/Romita period that is the basis for most of this film. wanted to go with them. The Amazing Spider-Man -- the wretched script aside -- looks like two movies put together: A standard drama in the "live" scenes and something that almost looks like some kind of fancy shmancy digital enhancement during the CG battles between Spidey and the Lizard. A lot of Spider-Man's acrobatics are not CG, say our notes, but Spidey's costume almost shimmers at times. It's amazing to look at (sorry) but it still looks like it is over animated. As pretty as the pictures are, they don't make up for the wreck that must be gotten through in the film's first hour.
The second hour on its own is probably a great piece of work. Didn't care at all when it happened, at all. Ladies on the way out of the theater seemed to like the movie. We think they were mostly talking about the "live" sections, leaving appreciation of the Spidey and Lizard stuff to their guys . . .
Their guys were stone faced.
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to The Amazing Spider-Man, he would have paid . . .
The Amazing Spider-Man will open huge. If it succeeds, good. The new Peter and Gwen look good together, even if . . . no, can't give away the continuity breaking surprise which will be fixed in the next movie. We really hate when a movie is built with sequels in mind.
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