It's been a mere five years since Sam Raimi's Spider-Man trilogy came to a close, but Columbia Pictures and Marvel have teamed up to reboot the franchise, this time with Mark Webb (500 Days of Summer) at the helm. The Amazing Spider-Man is a darker take on the franchise; while it's still very good, it suffers from an inconsistent tone and a plot that lacks proper focus.
This reboot begins with the same teenage high school student, Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield), whom we all know and love. A visit to Oscorp Labs causes Peter to be bitten by a genetically altered spider, which leaves him with super powers and a new Spider-Man alter ego.
Yes, it's the same origin story you've heard before, and the changes to the formula really don't switch things up all that much. Peter has trouble with his newfound strength, and constantly finds himself breaking doors, computers, and basketball hoops as he attempts to balance all the aspects of his new life.
I guess these scenes are provided as comic relief, but none of them work very well at all. These over-the-top comical moments don't mesh well with the darker plot, which otherwise succeeds at bringing out a more human side to the character.
The death of Peter's uncle, Ben Parker (Martin Sheen), may not have the same impact it had in the 2002 Sam Raimi film, but it does effectively serve to send Peter on a quest for revenge. The new vigilante known as Spider-Man finds an enemy in the NYPD's police commissioner, George Stacy (Denis Leary), who also happens to be the father of Peter's crush, Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone).
The relationship between Garfield and Stone is one of the more compelling aspects of the film, made all the better by Leary taking the role of over-protective father. The dynamic among these three characters serves to give The Amazing Spider-Man that grounding in reality it so desperately wanted to achieve.
I think it's in the love story angle that director Mark Webb, who is no stranger to romantic comedies, really shines. The teenage love of Gwen Stacey and Peter Parker is one of the most effective romances seen in any superhero movie, and Webb's steady hand is largely responsible for making it work so very well.