Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Review: The Amazing Spider-Man (Film)

Before we get into this review I want to share with you guys a cool webseries called “Malice”. It’s a horror themed show starring a cute girl who wears a rabbit hat a lot of the time. It’s doing a Kickstarter campaign for a second season. I urge you to check it out here. You’ll find all the info you need and if you like what you see please donate. I’d really like this thing to pull through and right now it ain’t doing so great.

Anyway, let’s move on to the actual blog.


The Amazing Spider-Man is one part movie executive spite and one part morally ambiguous cash cow. It is a reboot to the Spider-Man film franchise despite the film series only being ten years old and the most recent film being five years ago. As I understand it Sam Raimi, director of all three original Spider-Man films, was contracted to make Spider-Man 4 (and possibly also Spider-Man 5, depending on what website you heard it from). However Sony apparently demanded the unreasonable release date of Summer 2011, something that Raimi was simply not able to do. Somewhere in pre-production this issue caused both parties to part ways. Rather than hire a new director to make the planned movie they decided to cut their losses and hired Marc Webb to do a reboot…that would have to come out Summer of 2012 (pretty much rendering the entire damn argument moot).

It does sound pretty bad but to be honest we may have dodged a bullet. What little details we know about Spider-Man 4 make it sounds a bit annoying. The villain was supposed to be The Vulture played by John Malkovich and that would have been awesome except that the logical villain would have been The Lizard since his human identity, Curt Connors (played Dylan Baker), had been a supporting character for the last two movies. Also Anna Hathaway was tagged to play The Black Cat Felicia Hardy, but instead being the more familiar version of the character she would instead be the Vultures’ daughter and become a new character called The Vulturess! Yeah. That’s stupid as hell. (Though I do appreciate the irony that with this film cancellation Hathaway was free to play the extremely similar character of Catwoman in The Dark Knight Rises) So in the really days of the reboot’s pre-production I repeatedly told people we were better off because Raimi’s movie were clearly going down a weird path.

That is until the trailers started coming out. Pretty much every preview of this film made it look like a poorly produced joyless melodrama. It didn’t help that rumors were floating around that Sony hated the final product and were hiring a new writing team to do the sequel. The Amazing Spider-Man had an extremely uphill battle. Does it succeed as a proper reboot or does it fail to recapture the magic of its predecessor?

Full review after the jump.




Spidey sure has slimmed down since his last few movies
It must be his cutting the camp out of his diet
Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) is a normal, but unpopular, high school student who lives with his Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) and Aunt May (Sally Field) after the death of his parents. One day Peter finds his father’s old bag which possesses clues that lead him to his dad’s former lab partner Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans). He visits the doctor at his lab at Oscorp but after wandering off on his own he finds himself in the middle of a science experiment involving genetically modified spiders. Peter is bitten by one of the spiders, which is when his life truly begins.

This might be an unpopular thing to really talk about but I feel I have to. Technically speaking this movie shouldn’t exist for the reasons stated above. But when you think about the Sam Raimi films consider this: they were pretty damn cheesy. While it’s almost certainly a combination of being self-aware of its comic roots and that Raimi is no stranger to campiness the fact is that 2002’s Spider-Man is greatly hurt by its incredibly corny dialogue (it damn near ruined the Green Goblin for me). Not to mention that Tobey Maguire wasn’t the best Peter Parker, though we didn’t really have any decent live-action comparisons (plus the writers decided Spider-Man didn’t need to make jokes, for some bizarre reason).

What I’m getting to is that The Amazing Spider-Man is a better film than Sam Raim’s Spider-Man, by virtue of having better dialogue, a significantly less campy tone and an actor who does much better in the title role. It’s probably not as good as Spider-Man 2 (though almost everything is better than Spider-Man 3) but it simply has more heart and less groan inducing moments.

Dude! Put your goddamn pants back on!
As I said Andrew Garfield is great in this role and I have to wonder how much of this is due to his noted enthusiasm for the role (supposedly Garfield grew up as a giant Spider-Man fan and this is something of a dream role for him). Where the previous Parker was a bit stiff Garfield’s Peter feels like a real person. This has a lot to do with the script since his dialogue makes him act more like how a real high school outcast might react to the world around him. He’s pretty damn shy and awkward and reminded me of a lot of folks I know…including myself, damn it. The mannerism and the voice are a testament to Garfield’s talent as an actor (even though he’s waaaay to old to be playing a seventeen year old Spider-Man). One of the highlights of The Social Network it’s possible that we’ll be seeing him in a lot more leading roles in Hollywood now.

Since we’re talking about actors let me say the whole cast did a great job. While there may have been some weak points in the original Spider-Man trilogy (coughcoughjamefrancocough) nothing like that happens here. Martin Sheen, Denis Leary, Rhys Ifans; pretty much everyone turns in great performances. Special mention for Emma Stone; not only is she a better actress than Kirsten Dunst but the character of Gwen Stacy has a thousand percent more personality than the terribly written Mary Jane Watson from the original films (I can’t be the only one who thought MJ sucked in those movies). Stone’s performance brought a very three dimensional tone for the character and it made me, for only the second time in my life (the first being the TV show The Spectacular Spider-Man) give a crap about Gwen Stacy. She’s smart, sweet, strong willed and brave while also showing a shy and awkward side (possibly mostly dealing with Peter). In fact, because of her acting skills, charm and undeniable good looks I think I have to throw Emma Stone on the Hottest Women in Hollywood List.

#10: Amy Acker 
#9: Reese Witherspoon 
#8: Eva Green 
#7: Kat Dennings 
#6: Emma Stone 
#5: Anna Kendrick 
#4: Alison Brie 
 #3: Anne Hathaway 
 #2: Ellen Page 
#1: Michelle Trachtenber 

She's come a long way since Superbad
Anyway anyone thought that The Lizard wouldn’t have been a good villain will be pleasantly surprised here; just like it’s was classically portrayed in the comics The Lizard is intelligent enough to talk, reason and scheme. It’s not the bets villain performance in a superhero film but its solid and way better executed than many others in the genre. I mostly liked the plot, especially the details concerning Peter’s lost parents since that’s a topic that isn’t explored that much in Spider-Man mythology (thought all of the mystery stuff was exhausting and unfulfilling). It was structured very well, or at least well enough. There were issues but I’ll get to that in a second. The action scenes are pretty damn solid. Pretty much all the important parts of the movie are done well to the point that there shouldn’t be any reason you wouldn’t enjoy this movie.

Also you may have heard that Spider-Man’s real archenemy, J. Jonah Jameson, isn’t in the film. That’s true and the movie does suffer from his exclusion but within the context of the film it makes sense. In the original film Spider-Man is clearly active for months before Peter tries to get a job at the Daily Bugle but in this film it’s been a few weeks at best. He’s hasn’t really been around long enough to become an infamous figure in New York yet (though the film’s climax fixes this). A sequel would make more sense to bring in old J.J. (Please re-hire J.K. Simmons) and I didn’t miss him here.

On the other side of things they really shouldn’t have retold the origin as much as they did. By now every person who would have been willing to shell out dough to see this movie probably knows how Peter Parker became Spider-Man. A large chunk of the movie feels like we’re just retreading old stuff. It’s not bad but it feel extremely unnecessary (that said I don’t mind them not using the “Great Responsibility” line that I’ve noticed some people bitching it lacked, partly because we all f**king know the line and partly because if I recall correctly Uncle Ben didn’t even say it in Amazing Fantasy #15). Note than Incredible Hulk was a reboot of Ang Lee’s Hulk, not a sequel, but they managed to retell the original with no dialogue at the very beginning of the film in something like two minutes, if that. There was no reason they couldn’t have done something similar.

The main thing this movie lacks that Raimi’s films possessed in abundance was “fun”. A lot of the joy and fun I associate with Spider-Man is missing here and I think we have The Dark Knight to blame for that one. Spidey doesn’t make the jokes he should (he’s better than the previous films though), he’s serious way more than he should be, and for some reason he’s mostly active at nighttime. He’s not Batman, guys, he’s your Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man and this is a movie called The Amazing Spider-Man not “Spider-Man Begins”.

Peter Parker: The Webslinger Rises
The plot has problems. It’s nothing really big but instead several small things that add up. One of my major annoyances was how contrived the construction worker scene right before the climax was. That’s a lot of coincidence (my buddy Iron Eagle made the point that it feels like there’s only people or so in New York City in this film and this scene really makes his point have validity, I think). But that’s fairly minor to The Lizard’s plot. [SPOILER ALERT] Basically Connors wants to take the same substance that mutated him and unleash on New York as a biochemical aerosol weapon. I’m not a science guy at all so I could be wrong but it seemed like the serum was something Connors needed to inject into a patient, which seems like it would being injected into the blood. So I’m a little confused as to why, as a gas, the serum has the same effect as it would if it was being put into my veins. Maybe I’m missing something but it seems that taking something into your lungs that needs to get into you blood to affect you the way they want is off. I could be wrong and maybe the serum itself has always been about just being exposed to the subject anyway it can. Then why the shit was Doc Connors not wearing some sort of protective gear when he works on it in the lab? I mean if the serum needed injections to work than he’d be fine handing it with his bare hands so long as he didn’t prick himself but exposure in general is the trigger WHERE ARE THE GODDAMN HAZMAT SUITS AND THE SEALED OFF AREAS! He is not only endangering himself but every person in his lab. This bothered my throughout the movie.

Not to mention that Aunt May did pretty much nothing here. So much for the importance of Peter’s 928 years young mother figure.

The Amazing Spider-Man is a good movie but it can’t quite hang out with the big guns that have come out the last few years. Weirdly I’ve noticed that the internet has been extremely decisive on whether this flick was any good or not. I may get some negative feedback over it but I think it’s a better origin movie for the character than the original one. If I to rank the Spider-Films I’d put Spider-Man 2 at #1, Amazing at #2, the first one at #3 and Spider-Man 3 at #63 (Leaving spots open for future Spider-Man movies). I encourage you to check it out and make up your own mind. If you’re on the fence take in mind the trailers, which were all pretty bad, don’t properly show what this film is about. Go check it out and decide for yourself. 

Oh Gwen, perhaps there's hope for you after all
I give The Amazing Spider-Man 4 out of 5 Adorable Pandas.


Pros 

-Very well acted 

-The plot’s structure was pretty good 

-Pretty good action 

Cons 

-Some plot holes, and a lot of the plot is the same as the first Spider-Man film 

-The film is too dark, both literally and figuratively

2 comments:

  1. My opinion about the movie boiled down to: I'm not sure whether I'd consider it better or worse than Sam Raimi's. I guess if someone asked me which one they should watch, I'd ask them whether they prefer more high school time, or less. I left the movie wondering what this accomplished that the first one didn't, because my personal answer was "not much." It's not like when that other Hulk movie made, and it turned out to be a vast improvement. The one big improvement: I do think Gwen was much, much better than MJ. Smarter, more capable, less annoying, just all around better.

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    1. I just really, really was turned off by a lot of the campy elements of the first Spider-Man film, especially much of the dialogue. But I feel that Spider-Man 2 is still the superior film to both.

      I prefer Gwen in this movie so much over MJ in the other film it's not even funny. I just read a review that said they didn't like Gwen for all the reasons you just listed as to why you liked her. The internet is weird.

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