The Amazing Spider-Man
This reboot, rather, rehash of the web-slinging franchise is called "The Amazing Spider-Man," but perhaps should be titled "The Amazing Peter Parkour Stunt-Man."
Special effects and a love of technology pummel this latest reiteration, which includes a Batman-esque back story of Peter Parker losing his secretive scientist parents in a mysterious airplane crash. (He also shares a Bat-affinity of hanging out on gargoyles). Young Parker is given to be raised by a marvelous Martin Sheen as the doomed Uncle Ben, and a super Sally Field as Aunt May, who cautions the nerdy youth that "secrets have a cost; they're not for free."
Thin-headed twenty-nine-year-old Andrew Garfield is the titular teenager, who absorbs arachnid abilities after a visit to Oscorp, where love interest Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy interns. She works for moody Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans), who had partnered on a genetic equation with Peter's dad. And Gwen's pop is the Police Chief, played by Denis Leary, who, as usual, "wears a badge, not a mask like an outlaw." Executive Producer Stan Lee inserts his usual Hitchcockian cameo amidst these interwoven characters.
Like many genocidal forebears, one-armed Dr. Connors wants to create a "world without weakness," so, when his funding is pulled, he injects himself with an experimental serum to become Spidey's reptilian nemesis. But who is the more righteously conceived cross-species mutant?
The web-slinger designs and builds, rather than sprouts, his filament capability here, develops his street fighting cred in a "West Side Story"-looking scuffle, and assembles his crime fighting ensemble after seeing a luchador poster ("Spandex?!" he laments).
The dialogue is accessible. When working-on-being-amazing Spider-man plunges to the pavement, he notes, "Oh. That sucked." And a schoolteacher summarizes what I tell my writing students, that in every story, there is only one plot: who am I? But it becomes harder and harder to suspend disbelief in this film as incongruities pile up, from the crystal clear sewer water, to Bing product placement, to May and Ben's acceptance of Peter's erratic post-bite behavior. When returning home, bruised and ravenous, he should have been asked, as a cabbie asks the morphing Dr. Connors, "Are you tweaking?"
This Blu-ray and DVD set includes a third disc of just extras, such as deleted scenes, drawing board features, and, set to a strange soundtrack, some of the stunt rehearsals, featuring a green guy with an unintentionally hilarious stick-on tail.
For genre fans, "The Amazing Spider-Man" is a non-interactive video game. For those seeking something more, let's just say it's nice to see New York cranes used for some good rather than as dangling Damoclean Swords, to view the familiar urban skyline with the lights back on, and to witness "many millions of lower Manhattan residents who can now rest peacefully."
"The Amazing Spider-Man"
Blu-ray and DVD