How is it possible to look at The Amazing Spider-Man and not recognize how much it lacks? In the first place, it was borderline nuts to start all over with another origin of the character. Nerdy high school student Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) once again is bitten by a mutant spider that bestows upon him strength, agility, and the ability to climb up walls; once again, he learns the importance of taking responsibility when his self-absorption indirectly results in the death of his beloved Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen). Other details are tweaked, like a return to the comic books’ mechanical web shooters created by Peter; details about secret research work by Peter’s father (Campbell Scott) that may have led to his death; Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) taking over the romantic interest role; and Aunt May (Sally Field) having far too little grey hair. But it’s not about the details, however many of them seem like minor improvements vs. minor steps backward. It’s about the big things, like the casting of your hero. Garfield never once feels remotely right as Peter Parker, whose character is defined by his evolution from bully-bait to cocky bully himself to a hero who views his powers as a burden. By the time The Amazing Spider-Man reaches its excruciating final line of dialogue, one that suggests Peter has learned absolutely nothing, rendering all that has gone before a consequence-free trifle, it’s clear that nobody here really grasped why those Raimi Spider-Man tales were great. They gave you something that stuck with you, not something the studio is hoping you’ve forgotten by the time they decide to make another one.
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