The Amazing Spider-Man would prefer if you didn't call it the fourth Spider-Man movie. See this ain't the Spider-Man your older brother knew from ten years ago — it's a reboot. The latest adventure to feature the comic book webslinger throws three movies worth of established mythology straight out the window swapping the original cast with an ensemble of fresh faces and resetting the franchise with a spiffy new origin story. "New" in the loosest sense of the word — the highlights of ASM mainly a sleek new design and spunky reinterpretation of Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) and gal pal Gwen Stacey (Emma Stone) are weighed down by overpowering sense of familiarity. Nearly a beat for beat replica of the 2002 original with some irksome twists of mystery thrown in Amazing Spider-Man fails to evolve its hero or his quarrels. The film has a great sense of cinematic power but little responsibility in making it interesting.
We're first introduced to Peter Parker as a young boy watching as his parents rush out of the house in response to a hidden danger. Mr. and Mrs. Parker leave their son in the care of his Aunt May (Sally Fields) and Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) who raise him into Andrew Garfield's geeky cool spin on the character. Parker's a science whiz but faces the challenges of every day life — passing classes talking to girls the occasional jock with aggression issues — but all of life's woes are put on hold when the teen discovers a new clue in the mystery behind his parents' disappearance. The discovery of his dad's old briefcase and notes leads Peter to Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans) a scientist working for mega-conglomerate Oscorp and his Dad's old partner. When they cross paths Connors instantly takes a liking to the wunderkind and loops him into the work he started with his father: replicating the regeneration abilities of lizards in amputee humans (Connors is driven to reform his own missing arm). But when Parker wanders into Oscorp's room full of spiders (a sloppily explained this-needs-to-be-here-for-this-to-happen device) he receives his legendary spider bite that transforms him into the hero we know.
Director Marc Webb (500 Days of Summer) desperately wants Amazing Spider-Man to work as a high school relationship movie but with the burden of massive amounts of plot and mythology to introduce the movie sags under the sheer volume of stuff. Stone turns Parker's object of affection Gwen Stacey into a three-dimensional character. Whenever they happen upon each other an awkward exchange in the hallway a flirtatious back-and-forth in the Oscorp lab (where Stacey is head…intern) or when the two finally begin a romantic relationship the two stars shine. They're vivid characters chopped to bits in the editing room diluted by boring franchise-building plot threads and routine action sequences. Seriously Amazing Spider-Man another mad scientist villain who uses himself as a test subject only to become a monster? And another bridge rescue scene? Amazing Spider-Man desperately wants to disconnect from the original trilogy but it's trapped in an inescapable shadow and does nothing radical to shake things up. Instead it settles for the same old same old while preparing for inevitable sequels instead of investing in its dynamic duo.
There's a sweet spot where the film really hits his stride. After discovering his spider-abilities Peter hits the streets for the first time. He's superhuman but still a headstrong teen full of obnoxious quips and close calls with shiv-wielding thugs. The action is slick small and playful Webb showing us something new by melding his indie sensibilities with big scale action. If only it lasted — the introduction of Ifans reptilian half The Lizard implodes Amazing Spider-Man into incomprehensible blockbuster chaos. A gargantuan beast wreaking havoc around New York City promises King Kong-like escapades for the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man but the lizard man has other plans: to rule the world! Or something. Whatever it takes to get Lizard and Spider-Man fighting on the top of a skyscraper over a doomsday machine — logic be damned.
Amazing Spider-Man peppers its banal foundation with great talent from Denis Leary as Gwen's wickedly funny dad and the police captain hunting down Spider-Man to Fields and Sheen as two loving adults in Peter's life to Garfield and Stone whose chemistry demands a follow-up for the sake of seeing them reunited. But it's all at the cost of putting on the most expensive recreation of all time with new demands imposed by the success Marvel's other properties (except that franchise teasing worked). Amazing Spider-Man introduces too many ideas that go nowhere undermining the actual threat at hand. No one wants to be unfulfilled but that's the overriding difference between the original movie and the update. You need to pay for the sequel to know what the heck is going on in this one.
Charlie's Angels star Cameron Diaz, who was seen Tuesday sporting two tiny bandage strips on the bridge of her nose, said she broke her nose Saturday during a surfing accident off Waikiki Beach in Hawaii. "I'm fine," Diaz told The Associated Press. "But I'm just totally bummed out because I can't go surfing any more." The nautical mishap happened on her first day of her two-week Hawaiian vacation, also her 31st birthday. Diaz said she was surfing with her older sister and a couple of friends when she wiped out and hit someone else's board--with her face. Her sister, Chimene, told the AP it could have been worse had the board not been made of foam. According to the 2004 edition of the Guinness World Records, Diaz, who earned $42.2 million in 2001, has replaced Julia Roberts as Hollywood's highest paid actress.
Actors To Test for Batman Role
Holy razor's edge, this is going to be a close shave! Over the next three days, some of Hollywood's hottest young actors will congregate at Warner Bros. to test for the role of the Caped Crusader in the next Batman film. According to The Hollywood Reporter, actors Jake Gyllenhaal, Christian Bale, Joshua Jackson, Cillian Murphy, Henry Cavill and Eion Bailey are all expected to test for the part. The Batman film, to be directed by English filmmaker Christopher Nolan (Memento), is scheduled to start shooting in February.
Johnny Depp Loves Freedom Fries
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl star Johnny Depp, who lives in the south of France with his wife, French model/actress Vanessa Paradis, and their two children, told the German news magazine Stern that the United States is "a stupid, aggressive puppy" and he would not live there until the political climate changed. According to Reuters, Depp, 41, also slammed George W. Bush's administration for its criticism of French opposition to the U.S.-led war in Iraq, adding: ""I was ecstatic they re-named 'French fries' as 'Freedom fries.' Grown men and women in positions of power in the U.S. government showing themselves as idiots."
Limo Owner Sues Rapper 50 Cent
The owner of a limousine service in Mobile, Ala., has sued rapper 50 Cent, claiming he suffered bruised ribs, fear and emotional distress after some of the star's security guards hijacked his vehicle following a March 13 concert at the University of South Alabama's Mitchell Center, the AP reports. Johnny Bonner alleges that when he tried to take a different route back to the hotel after a crowd of fans surrounded 50 Cent's motorcade, the security men attacked him, threw him in the rear seat of the GMC Yukon and drove "recklessly" back to the hotel. He seeks unspecified damages from 50 Cent, the three unidentified security men and unidentified parties responsible for hiring and supervising the men.
Macaulay Culkin Happy Where He Is
Former Home Alone child star Macaulay Culkin says he has no regrets about rising to fame at such a young age. Culkin, now 23, tells Barbara Walters in an interview with airing Friday at 10 p.m. EDT on ABC's 20/20 that he wouldn't trade any of his experiences for anything in the world. "I'm very happy with who I am, and where I've ended up and I wouldn't change one thing," he said. "Because if you change one thing in the past, everything else is different." Culkin, who married actress Rachel Miner in 1998 when both were just 17 but separated two years later, also denied he plans to marry his girlfriend, actress Mila Kunis from the Fox's That '70s Show. Culkin stars as New York club kid Michael Alig in the upcoming biopic Party Monster.
Universal Re-Releases Scarface
Universal Pictures is re-releasing Al Pacino's Scarface this month for a 20th anniversary run in theaters in New York; Los Angeles; Boston; Chicago; Philadelphia; Washington, D.C.; Detroit; Dallas; Miami and San Francisco, Reuters reports. Jack Foley, president of distribution for Universal's specialty film label Focus Features, said the new prints have been copied from restored film and will feature a new digital soundtrack to boost the audience experience. The film's re-release comes in advance of a new DVD version of Scarface.
Gone With the Wind's Rand Brook Dies
Actor Rand Brooks, who played Scarlett O'Hara's first husband, Charles, in Gone With the Wind died of cancer Monday at his home in Santa Ynez, Calif., with his wife, Hermaine, at his bedside, the AP reports. He was 84. In the 1940s and '50s, Brooks became known as sidekick Lucky Jenkins in the Hopalong Cassidy movies and Cpl. Randy Boone in the TV series Rin Tin Tin. After he left show business, Brooks ran an ambulance service that eventually became the largest private ambulance provider in Los Angeles County. He sold the company in 1994 and retired to the Santa Ynez Valley, where he bred champion Andalusian horses.