A few days ago, we noticed that The Amazing Spider-Man (or, as the marquee read, “Spiderman 4”) was playing at the local second-run theater, and as we didn’t see it when it first came out, we decided to check it out. Ordinarily, we see super-hero movies when they first come out (specifically, DC and Marvel movies), but as this one had struck us as a “WHY?” movie, we had decided to wait.
What’s a “WHY?” movie, you ask? There was no point to it. Remakes are generally in this category. We always thought that a movie remake made sense if the idea was sound but the execution wasn’t, but most of the time—have you noticed?—the remakes are of movies that were successful the first time around. And such as it was with the first round of Spider-Man movies. And, of course, my favorite example, Superman Returns.
Superman Returns, if you’ll recall, was supposed to be the great savior of DC movies. Brandon Routh, the actor stepping into the blue and red uniform, had an uncanny resemblance to the late Christopher Reeve. Kevin Spacey replaced Jack Nicholson as Lex Luthor. Kate Bosworth pretended to be Lois Lane. And apparently that was all that was necessary for a movie remake, as far as Warner was concerned. And it didn’t work.
First of all, Routh couldn’t act. Nope, nada. Or so little that it wasn’t worthwhile. All I can assume is that once the producers realized this unfortunate fact, they had to do a bit of rewriting. So all there was for Routh to do was not to act, but react. He didn’t speak much, because it was just best for all concerned if he didn’t. And between the disappointing storyline (been there, done that), the really disappointing acting, and the clear lack of concern about coming up with anything NEW, this movie was definitely a WHY? movie. Don’t need a new villain, don’t need a new plot. Let’s just use a mishmash of some old stuff, that should be good enough.
The Amazing Spider-Man, otherwise known as Spider-Man 4, was cut from the same cloth, but better done. Most of the Marvel movies have been better done than DC ones, and even the disappointing ones have been better done. (I even enjoyed Ghost Rider!) (Okay, the Nolan Batman ones were good. And Anne Hathaway was a wonderful Selina Kyle.) Spider-Man 4 got made because Sony still had the rights and it could, and so not even a decade after the first successful Spider-Man movie (and barely five years after the third), there was a new one, with a new cast. It was almost a new story, even.
Unlike the Superman remake, this one had a good lead (Andrew Garfield, a promising young British actor), a new girlfriend (or the earlier one, played by Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy; she was believable as a bright young thing who goes to a school for smart kids, as opposed to Kate Bosworth as Lois Lane, a seasoned, award-winning reporter. I giggled at that one). And Rhys Ifans as Curt Connors, a character who had a passing reference in the earlier movies, but not really used. That actor I was mostly familiar with in comedies (Notting Hill, The Replacements), but he did a splendid job as a scientist gone gonzo. And Martin Sheen as Uncle Ben? My only disappointment was he didn’t use the classic Spider-Man line about great responsibility. Sally Field as Aunt May was fine, but she needed to lay off the hair dye. (Quibble: I know Midtown Science High was supposed to be a stand-in for Bronx High School of Science, a New York City school for the mathematically and scientifically gifted, but I couldn’t believe there would be a bully like Flash Thompson in a school like that. But he was there in the original comics, so there you go.)
Anyway, I enjoyed The Amazing Spider-Man, otherwise known as Spider-Man 4. Did it need to be made again? Nope.