It seems like only yesterday that Tobey Maguire was swinging over New York City via web in his sleek Spider-Man suit pining over Mary Jane Watson. Cut to 2012 and The Amazing Spider-Man takes a spin at telling what the studio marketed as "The Untold Story" even though the entire time you can't shake the feeling of deja vu. You can tell a studio suit was hoping this was going to be their Spider-Man Begins but instead somehow ended up with Spider-Man Returns.
Andrew Garfield is more than solid as Peter Parker bringing an edge to the character even though his skateboarding shennigans scream more 90's Bart Simpson than modern superhero in the making. Though Garfield might not have completely embraced the sensitive side of Parker like Maguire did, the British actor was able to push the charming and sarcastic side of the character in the right direction. Parker finally dons the mask an hour into the film and it wasn't long after that I realized Garfield was doing a damn good job playing Spider-Man but Tobey Maguire IS Spider-Man.
Emma Stone seems to have been forced to dumb herself down to the role of Gwen Stacy but despite some forced awkwardness not to be mistaken for realism, she enjoys some chemistry fueled moments with Garfield on screen. The first kiss takes place on the roof of her apartment building where Parker does his best Mortal Kombat impression and performs a "Get Over Here" maneuver with his web. You almost wish that in some alternate universe Stone could have somehow been cast as Mary Jane in the Raimi films.
It's a shame that Rhys Ifans couldn't have been cast as Norman Osborn because then it would have meant he would have never had to turn into The Lizard. Ifans turns in an understated performance as the one armed Dr. Curt Connors, an OsCorp scientist attempting to find the proper equation for regeneration in order to correct his lack for limb. Once he morphs into a giant poor man's Godzilla and retires to a underground sewer lair, I completely lost interest. His plan to release a toxin throughout the city to create droves of invincible humanoids is a plan worthy of a 1960's Bond villain.
The action is present but a good amount of it takes place with Peter Parker taking out thugs in dark alleys. After the nuttiness that was Avengers, audiences aren't going to appreciate the nuances of an alley chase scene as much as they might have pre-Avengers, but this is where director Marc Webb is comfortable. He seems to really understand how to further develop the reasons for Peter transforming into the webslinger, but once that mask goes on he loses control of the story, which you think would have been better scripted considering James Vanderbilt, Alvin Sargent, Steve Kloves, were involved in penning the remake.
Martin Sheen is like an all star playing for a last place team. He carries himself as a more hip to the game version of Uncle Ben but still meets the same fate in the end. The legendary Sally Field is completely wasted as Aunt May and spends most of her time not sleeping and begging for somebody to bring her home some damn eggs. You wonder whose decision it was to not put Dennis Leary on screen as much as possible, his blue collar turn as Captain Stacy screams for more screen time. I have to mention there is some pretty good 3D, although are you supposed to be able to take off your glasses during the non action scenes and see the screen almost perfectly?
There are different actors and a different villain with a couple minutes of Peter's parents thrown in, but The Amazing Spider-Man is a sleeker, hipper, three dimensional, remake of 2002's Spider-Man. Although I'm struggling to figure out what happened to the untold story, I'm comfortable with this being a remake. Just like Superman Returns this film has it's place in the Spider-Man film universe, it just didn't live up to it's title. Amazing.