I thoroughly enjoy the first two installments of the previous Spider-Man films, but I also encourage remakes if it’s done with the hopes of reinterpreting the source material. I’m pretty sure most people assumed this got made in hopes of washing the slate clean of the shitshow known as Spider-Man 3, but considering the principle cast, along with director Sam Raimi weren’t interested in doing more, of course you’re going to start over. I do wish they had waited a few more years so that people wouldn’t be comparing/contrasting The Amazing Spider-Man with a trilogy that’s only ten years old. Keeping my hopes high, I was pretty excited for where this movie could go, especially considering the video of Andrew Garfield at San Diego Comic Convention last year. Unfortunately, the first trailer didn’t do anything to excite me, as the method of reinterpreting the excitement of web-swinging was done through Spider-Man’s point of view, and it just looked like that free-running videogame Mirror’s Edge. All of the reviews I’ve been seeing for this is either that people love it or hate it, and nobody was really falling in the middle. This was exciting for me, because either I would think it was really good and make me happy, or I’d hate it and there would be tons of things to rip apart. Unfortunately, I’m the only person I can think of whose opinion fell right down the middle.
“Ha ha, good one, Emma. But no, I’ll never get tired of being in films where I get to create algorithms.”
Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) is left in the care of his uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) and his aunt May (Sally Field) after his super smart scientist parents abandon him. While in high school, Peter taps into his latent intelligence, but unfortunately lacks social skills. After investigating some clues he found of his parents’ life, he goes to the research facility OsCorp to find Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans), someone who used to work with his father. Peter’s father was working with Connors to combine animal DNA with human DNA, specifically using genes related to regeneration of limbs. While checking out the labs, Peter is bitten by a spider, which results in Peter displaying super-strength, heightened agility, and a “Spider Sense” that helps him detect when there are nearby threats. Peter uses these skills to try to find the person who killed his uncle Ben during a botched robbery, and starts taking out a bunch of lowlife thugs. While this is going on, Curt Connors starts testing serums on himself to repair his own missing arm, resulting in him being a big lizard. There’s fighting and punching and web shooting and quips and a slightly awkward love interested in the Chief of Police’s daughter, Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone), but don’t worry, Spider-Man saves the day and gets the Lizard put behind bars. That’s basically it, isn’t it? Yeah, I’d say so.
How The Lost World of you, Lizard. I didn’t know you were such a Jurassic Park fan.
This film seemed to hit on all the major points of what you look forward in a Spider-Man movie, or any interepretation of Spider-Man for that matter, but something just seemed…missing. I’m going to try not to use too many examples where I compare this to the Sam Raimi films and will only do so as examples of what I look for with Spider-Man. Let’s start off with the two biggest strengths of the movie, which are BIG strengths. Firstly, I think Andrew Garfield was a great choice as Spider-Man. Whether or not he was a good choice as Peter Parker is a different story, but as Spider-Man, he was able to deliver his mid-fight quips with great emphasis and comedic timing. Was able to be humorous, but also had a dorky charm to all of his zingers. Secondly, all of the action, including the web swinging, was all really cool. Despite still not thinking the POV shots looked all that good, all other shots of Spidey zipping through the city were really fun and exciting, as well as the scenes of Spider-Man fighting the Lizard, as well as when Peter first discovers he has powers and is harassed on the subway. Oh yeah, and another smaller thing I just remembered liking was that Flash Thompson is notorious for being a Spider-Man bully, yet in the comic books, they eventually become friends. This movie set up not just the bullying relationship, but also gave enough hints at their possible friendship in the future, which was especially important because in some storylines, Flash was the one who became the notorious villain Venom.
“Why of COURSE I’m 17! How could I NOT be 17?! LOOK AT MY OUTFIT!”
Now let’s see, what were the things I DIDN’T like…oh yeah, basically everything else in the movie. One big issue I had is that Peter Parker is what some might describe as a “nerd”, making him pretty awkward around women he has feelings for. How do we convey this? Not really at all, other than a few awkward exchanges that do nothing but woo Gwen Stacy, and less than half an hour in the two are basically dating. It’s not Andrew Garfield’s fault that he’s so handsome! As far as Emma Stone is concerned, we first saw her playing a high schooler when she was 19 in Superbad, so seeing her play another high school student 5 years later, it just wasn’t very convincing. Rhys Ifans as Curt Connors was…the person who read the lines. Maybe I am still pissed at him for when he was a dick at SDCC and shoved some lady out of the way, but I wasn’t too impressed. To be fair, the Lizard felt like an odd choice for the first villain in this reboot. Remember Aunt May? Nope, neither do I. What about the impact of Uncle Ben’s influence on Peter’s life? You knew he must have been important for some reason, but Ben’s death didn’t feel like it had much impact in this movie. Remember how Uncle Ben said, “With great power comes great responsibility,” and that was the most important thing for Spider-Man? Not once was that line uttered in the movie. There was a variation of that theme, but I feel the inclusion of this message would have made Peter’s motives a little more clear.
No armpit webs, NO THANK YOU.
The success of Raimi’s films ties into the silly, almost cartoonish nature of the way things are handled. At least with the first film, it seems like everything is black and white. Peter is obviously a nerd, Spider-Man wants to do good to avenge Ben, and Norman Osborn is a psycho freak. It was those clearly defined roles in the first film that allowed things to waver a little bit in the following films, whereas everything in The Amazing Spider-Man was just too bland. Remember how deliberate the skill set of Spider-Man was set up in the first Raimi film, discussing the combination of a spider with super strength, one with super agility, one with really strong webs, and ones that had a type of precognition? BOOM! That’s what Peter’s skills are. In this film, all we know is a vague concept of combining animal traits with humans, then Peter is bitten by the spider and all of a sudden he has these powers and knows how to kick people’s asses. I understand that with the success of Christopher Nolan’s Batman films, there’s an emphasis on “realism”, but I don’t think that suits Spider-Man. I like my Spider-Man to be a little bit sillier, a little bit more fun and adventurous, so that way when shit DOES get real, you feel all that much more sympathetic for how good of a guy you know Peter to be. I wish that this film had come out a few years later so that it wouldn’t automatically draw comparisons to a franchise that just ended five years ago, or I wish you could have taken Andrew Garfield and just plopped him into one of Raimi’s Spider-Man movies to get to interact with that world instead of this one. AND THERE WAS A FUCKING TRAINING MONTAGE WHERE HE IS SKATEBOARDING AND COLDPLAY IS PLAYING IN THE BACKGROUND. When has anyone ever wanted to hear Coldplay in order to get pumped up and extreme? NEVER, THAT’S WHEN. HOLY SHIT, WAIT A SECOND. I got all the way through writing this review and forgot two fucking annoying things. Firstly, Peter tells Gwen he’s Spider-Man. And he reveals his face to her dad. And her dad yells, “PARKER?!” but we are supposed to think his secret is safe. Spider-Man should NOT be taking his mask off so frequently. Secondly, there’s a mid-credits sequence that all these goddamned comic book movies are becoming known for. In this sequence, we see Curt Connors in a jail cell, and a shadowy figure says some bullshit alluding to Peter’s parents still being alive, super dramatic like, then that’s it. What? Why was this included? These segments are typically included to hint at some future, concrete plot points, or maybe used for the sake of a joke, but this was vague and dumb and might as well have just said “TO BE CONTINUED!!!” in giant letters. LAME. Wait…I ALSO JUST REMEMBERED THERE WAS A SCARLET SPIDER REFERENCE! Does that cancel out the previous things I was annoyed with? Fuck it, I need to stop writing about this.
Wolfman Moon Scale