‘The Amazing Spider Man,' ‘The Dark Knight Rises,' & 'The Bourne Legacy'

This summer at the movies was the season of franchises. Spider-Man spun himself into a new series, though the older one, with Tobey Maguire, was completed only five years ago. Christopher Nolan’s Batman trio reached its final installment, and Jeremy Renner inherited the Bourne legacy. But the desire to keep a lucrative thing going isn’t enough to pump life into a new movie, and the question persists: Is there a real story here?

In the case of The Amazing Spider-man, the answer is a simple no. I thoroughly enjoyed the first two films in the Sam Raimi trilogy, which had adequate special effects, economical and sometimes thrilling action sequences, a charming shy-guy hero, and, best of all, a sense of humor. What happens when a bright adolescent nerd, Peter Parker, suffering all the usual pangs a nerd is heir to, has to cope with the superpowers a “radioactive spider bite” gives him? The motto “with great power comes great responsibility” gave the series all the gravitas it needed and not an ounce more.

There’s nothing new in Marc Webb’s remake except 3D visuals and a conspiracy theory. And the 3D is a fiasco. Whatever their (many) dramatic shortcomings, Avatar and the more recent Prometheus were significant advances in bringing greater depth to the screen. The Amazing Spider-Man’s visuals are retrograde, separating foreground and background so crudely...

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About the Author

Richard Alleva has been reviewing movies for Commonweal since 1990.