I gotta’ say, you look just like me. Except, you’re more “angry back ally” than “friendly neighborhood.”
That right there was quoted from the 2000 Spider-Man video game for the PS1/N64, when our hero faces Mysterio posing as his evil doppelganger. Unfortunately, I gotta’ say that, for at least the first third of The Amazing Spider-Man reboot, I was half wishing this guy would turn out to be an evil doppelganger like that game, and that my real favorite superhero of all time would swoop in and pound his face into the big screen. Anyway, we’ll get to why I felt that way soon enough, but we got a lot to talk about, because this movie has it all: the Good [acting], the Bad [jokes], and the Ugly [costume/monster design]. So lets get started on today’s review of The Amazing Spider-Man
To begin, all those posters and trailers that touted the Amazing Spider-Man as “The Untold Story” are complete lies. This is the EXACT SAME STORY as the 2002 Spider-Man movie. We go through the exact same song and dance of Peter Parker getting bullied by Flash Thompson, being awkward around his future girlfriend, getting bit by the radioactive spider and discovering his powers, first using them for his own personal game, he gets talked to by his Uncle, whom he shoves off, but then he get’s shot and killed, and so on… and so forth. The only real differences to the basic setup of this movie to it’s predecessor is that Peter A.) doesn’t graduate high school right away, B.) has completely unnecessary mommy and daddy issues, and C.) despite now being some super genius who can create his own webbing and a remote controlled door locker (one of the few aspects of the original Spider-Man that wasn’t very relatable) the way he now gets bit by the spider is, not by some freak accident, but a result of this super genius suddenly acting like a complete idiot, doing exactly what his would-be-girlfriend told him not to do, and letting Norman Osborn’s laggy lead him astray into this chamber with thousands of uncaged spiders that have obviously been experimented on. Brilliant.
For the record, I’m not someone who’s all too concerned with Peter Parker’s origins being rebooted to have a more predestined fate that brought him to be Spider-Man, or that his parents worked with Dr. Conners, thus connecting them to OSCORP and the obvious Big Boss Baddie whose running the strings of this whole operation, and how his love interest Gwen Stacy also works for the company, automatically putting her in the spic of all this danger. I’m totally fine with all that. Really… I am. No, what really really REALLY rubbed me the wrong way was how they rebooted Peter from an awkward nerd who was a pretty good science student to something I barely recognize as Peter now.
Remember in Spider-Man 3 how everyone made such a huge fuss about how annoying and out of place it was when Peter turned into a complete emo jackass when he was being influenced by the symbiotic suit? Well guess what? Sony Pictures took all those complaints, and they tossed them into a giant fiery bin. Emo-Jackass-Skaterpunk Peter has returned in full force for at least the good part of the first hour of this movie, and it’s not because he’s being controlled by an evil alien suit that enhances his aggression either, he just IS that way to begin with.
Andrew Garfield is a great actor, and I get that he really fought to play this part, so I do wish him the best of luck in this role in the future. But as Peter Parker, he’s way too pretty and quick witted to really make his awkward talks with Emma Stone’s Gwen Stacy (as well acted as they may be) seem believable. He’s the kind of guy my 15-year-old sister would pick to play the part. As Spider-Man, there was just that one carjacker scene that everyone thought was hilarious, but seriously made be want to hang myself. Everyone said that they wanted Spider-Man to joke around more with his enemies, which I’m for too, but I don’t want him to start spouting uninspired mean-spirited quips that would be typical trash talk in any Michael Bay movie, which is exactly what that scene sounded like! Add to that the stupid crotch shots with his webbing, and how the police shows up and he starts acting like a jerk to them as well, talking in this awful gangsta lingo, and I just want to call bull****. This is NOT Your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man!
He’s literally owning up to the idea that he’s above the law. Keep in mind, this all happens after his Uncle Ben was shot, and he put all this effort into making this suit and becoming Spider-Man, yet he’s STILL being a selfish little brat out to achieve his own vendetta. It’s only till an hour into the movie when he has his little dinner date with Denis Leary’s Captain Stacy (great part, by the way) that he finally get’s a freaking clue, thus making me think Gee, you think the super genius would have realize this himself when…oh I don’t know… HIS UNCLE DIED!?
Anyway, I’m tired of complaining about this. I think I’ve made my point. To move on, some people say that this reboot was made to more faithfully follow the comics than the Sam Rami trilogy, but honestly, I have to disagree.
- Despite it’s title, The Amazing Spider-Man takes elements from both the Amazing and Ultimate comic universes, and mashes them together as an excuse to just do whatever they want and pretend they’re being faithful, when they’re just really being confusing to the true comic fans.
- Meanwhile, Harry Osborn, who is Peter’s friend in both universes, and is the son of the obvious Big Baddie who’s pulling all the strings, never shows up once.
- Dr. Connors is suppose to be a family man with a wife and son, and they’re suppose to become some of the first people to trust Spider-Man to protect them and save Curt from himself. That whole subplot is absent, which is a shame because it makes him becoming the Lizard actually tragic and sympathetic.
- The Lizard himself… oh don’t even get me started… too late.
But that’s not all. There are parts where the movie falls short on it’s own merits:
- Why is Sony being so subtle about who this guy in the shadows is in the post credit scene? We ALL know that it’s Norman Osborn, teasing the series main villain in the sequel A-la Batman Begins/Green Lantern/Avengers. Plus it’s hardly a reveal at all when you put the post credit scene in your freaking trailer!
- Why would the Lizard say to Peter, “You don’t have to stop me.” When HE is the one making the attack at his own school?
- I did not find all the slapstick humor of Peter not being in control of his super strength or adhesive abilities to be all that funny. The bit with the alarm clock was pretty good, but after that, they just kept doing it and doing it and doing it, and even when he was trying to have a dramatic moment with his Aunt and Uncle, they did it again and it totally killed the scene.
- Imagine if you went to go see The Avengers, and we got to the part where the Tesseract was put in place, and we see the Chitorian army come in and invade New York, but when we get to the final battle, all we got to see were the scenes where Avengers specifically fight Loki, and Black Widow fights to get the staff to shut down the Tesseract and close the portal, and that’s it. Sure, we still get the awesome fights with the main villain with some pretty sweet effects, but we’d never have truly gotten to see just how massive and critical the treat was to the city, so the people would have essentially been running away from… nothing. That’s how the final climax of The Amazing Spider-Man felt for me.
- This is a little one, but none of the music in this movie felt nearly as powerful as Danny Elfman’s beautiful score in the original trilogy.
- And is anyone else annoyed how Spider-Man seems to take off his mask literally every other fight scene? I know they did that in the original trilogy too for most of its climaxes, but in this, they seem to do it even more, and at this point it’s gotten old.
And yet, despite all that crap I’ve just mentioned, I do not, repeat, DO NOT, think this movie was terrible beyond repare. It is nowhere near as bad as Green Lantern, Ghost Rider: Sprit of Vengeance, or X-Men Origins: Wolverine. In fact, there was a lot to like. For starters, the acting all around was pretty damn good. I’ll admit that many of the performance in the Sam Rami movies were pretty campy, to the point were where it actually felt like you were watching 1960’s comic book, or a live action 90’s cartoon. For me, that worked given the aesthetic of those movies. That said, I’m sure a lot of people are going to be happy that the characters this time around are a bit more down-to-earth and easier to connect with for a current generation audience. Martin Sheen made a great Uncle Ben that I felt for when he passed (by that I mean it was just like the first one, which is fine). Sally Field’s Aunt May was good too, even if I am still partial to how well Harris looked and owned the part. Denis Leary’s Captain Stacy was solid. The Lizard, all visual annoyances aside, did have a great voice and his evil plot did feel like a faithful update to his original plot in the comics, so at least there’s that. Heck, even Flash Thompson turns out to be more endearing, which I did appreciate (I HATE One-Dimensional bully characters in movies with no motivation or development). And then of course, we have Emma Stone as Peter Parker’s original love interest, Ms. Stacy. Interesting enough, Gwen was a character that was omitted from Spider-Man TAS which was how I got acquainted with the series, replaced with Felicia Hardy (Black Cat) as the main “not-Mary-Jane” love interest, so I grew up barely knowing anything about her. After watching this movie, I’m officially a fan.
All in all, the second half of the movie, you know after the movie’s done repeating the origins and Spider-Man finally pulls that annoying stick out if his ass and get’s his act together, is infinitely better. Special effects have obviously improved since the early Rami films, so the action and web swinging scenes are some of the best we’ve seen in any Spider-Man movie thus far. Spidy’s quips do get filtered and are better in the second half, oh and for the record, I have a new pick for BEST STAN LEE CAMEO EVER!!!
So, The Amazing Spider-Man. At the end of the day, it’s another movie that falls in the just all right category: The same category I placed Dark Shadows, Men In Black 3, and Snow White and the Huntsman in earlier this same year. However because this is a just all right movie that happens to star my favorite super hero of all time, I am prone to be harsher at its faults, and fonder of its strengths. So… yeah, I’d give it a watch. Go see it (if you’ve already seen The Avengers of course) and you will likely have a good time. It is bound to do well at the box office as it is. At least for the first two weeks before you know what comes out and knocks it out of the freaking park.
But seriously! Is it so much to ask Sony to give Spider-Man his original costume back and have a Lizard with a face that actually looks like a freaking Lizard, and not like Lord Voldimort meets one of those Gomba things from the Super Mario Bros. movie?
Okay! I’m done now, I swear. No more ranting. Until next time, true believers!
…Gosh, I need a vacation.