starring Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans, Sally Field
screenplay by James Vanderbilt
directed by Marc Webb
by Walter Chaw SPOILER WARNING IN EFFECT. The only reason for choosing (500) Days of Summer helmer Marc Webb to steer the Spider-Man property in a new direction is the hope that Webb would somehow inject into it a twee, precious, emo-romantic pheromone irresistible to Zooey Deschanel-brand nerd-chicks. Think: Twilight for girls who aren't illiterate. It's not a bad movie in and of itself, but I'm ambivalent about its nominal success, just because rebooting a franchise that's still so fresh (Sam Raimi's Spider-Man 3 was a mere five years ago) proves a terrible distraction. As much as I like Andrew Garfield, the new Peter Parker, I spent a lot of time comparing his performance to Tobey Maguire's in the same role (ditto Emma Stone (the new Gwen Stacey) and Kirsten Dunst (the former Mary Jane)) and wondering what Raimi would have done with a Lizard (Rhys Ifans) voiced/motion-captured by Dylan Baker, had he been allowed to finally pay off that thread. I spent a lot of time, too, distracted by cool emo touches, like having Peter decorate his room with a lovely, vintage Rear Window poster, ostensibly because this Parker is soulful enough a 17-year-old to not only have seen the film but also perhaps modeled his own photography jones after that film's shutterbug protagonist. But what about Rear Window's hero being a voyeur? A scene early on in The Amazing Spider-Man where Parker snaps a surreptitious photo of Gwen hints at a draft of the screenplay that maybe wanted to deal with Parker as a real, honest-to-goodness fucked-up kid. Sad that only moments now and again suggest any kind of depth or greater purpose. Sad, too, that the movie's not otherwise exciting or innovative.