Fidgeting & Sighing – Amazing Spider-Man

Posted: February 15, 2015 in Fidgeting and Sighing

With the news that Spider-Man will now be swinging over to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I thought it would be a good time to dust off my review of Amazing Spider-man from a few years ago. I never did make it a point to see The Amazing Spider-Man 2, and after you read the review you’ll see why. See despite the fact that I am a comic-book/super-hero movie enthusiast, I can’t say I’m “all in,” because when a movie looks that bad, I can’t waste my money. But, as every movie must exist on its own, here was my take on The Amazing Spider-Man.

First off all, I may have gone in with the wrong attitude, because I was not impressed with the trailers, the preview footage, the leaked footage, the cast, the villain, or the very idea that this franchise needed to be re-booted in the first place. So, what does that leave me with? Probably not a lot, but with such low expectations, there’s a chance I could be surprised, right?

Well, that didn’t happen, unfortunately, but rather than turn this into another “bitching” post, I want to get into the whys and wherefores, because it took me a little while even to figure out why this movie was so unimpressive to me. Honestly, the changes to Spidey’s costume didn’t bother me, and in fact, it looked kind of cool. And the other changes from the Sam Raimi-Tobey Maguire version were fine as well. The fact that Peter was able to make his own mechanical web-shooters, complete with webbing, was a nicer touch than having the webs inexplicably shoot out of his wrists (and more like the actual comic book character.) As my friend, Jay, pointed out in 2002 when the original Spider-Man was released, “If they wanted to make it more realistic, shouldn’t the webs shoot out of his ass?”

And the change from Mary Jane to the much-beloved Gwen Stacy (played by the much-beloved though slightly-too-old-for-high-school Emma Stone) was an improvement as well. I always liked Mary Jane better in the comic, but Kirsten Dunst just never had any pizazz. Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield did have some chemistry, probably because they were dating in real life. And obviously, though it still has its faults, CGI has come a long way since 2002, so Spider-Man swinging through the city looks slightly better, especially that one POV shot where you could see his hands firing the webs and them catching on to buildings, so we get a sense of what it’s like. Ah, video games at work. Also, sometimes in those Raimi version of old, it looked like the webs were catching on to clouds, because he was way above the buildings in some of those shots.

That’s about where the praise ends. For me, that’s actually pretty good, but something about this movie made it more than just bad. It was somehow annoyingly bad. Maybe because I had such a love for the character. Maybe because I didn’t see the need for a re-boot after only a few years since Spider-Man 3, although that movie was pretty terrible, too, so the studio was probably just trying to help us forget that ever happened. But the real reason I found this movie annoying was because deep down I knew that Sony was only doing this one because if they sat on the property any longer, the rights would revert back to Marvel, meaning Disney would get their hands on this money-maker.

Or maybe because Andrew Garfield kind of sucks. (Note: He has apparently spun his last brooding, grumpy web, as the Marvel suits will be replacing him.) For one, he’s too good-looking to play nerdy Peter Parker, and any comic book fan knows that the real judge of an actor playing a super-hero is that you have to be able to play the alter ego (see: Stark, Tony). But not only was he just not right for this part, I have never been impressed with his work, period. Between The Social Network and The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus, and now this, the guy is 0 for 3 in my book. Not that he had a lot to work with here, but he just wasn’t nerdy enough or cool enough to make me believe in him, as Spider-Man or Peter Parker. He seemed to just be saying the lines of dialogue fed to him like he was in some high school play and he was getting extra credit or something. I never got that he mourned his uncle, or that he cared for his aunt, or that he felt any obligation to be a hero. As I said, the only decent scenes were between him and Stone, and I don’t know if that’s because they are dating, because she’s actually pretty decent (and hot!), or because director Marc Webb (whose previous credit was (500) Days Of Summer, which was a brilliant rom-com) has some experience with on-screen chemistry.


Beyond Garfield’s performance, the movie itself lacked a lot of the drama inherent in even the comic book. For example, in the comic book, Peter has already become the Amazing Spider-Man, and is putting on regular TV appearances when he allows the criminal who eventually kills his uncle to escape, so the guilt is more obvious because Peter was using his powers for profit. That’s where the whole ‘Great power, great responsibility” line, which is in just about every Spider-Man comic ever written, comes from. Why take out that whole dilemma and replace it with a fight with a convenience store clerk over chocolate milk, which leads to his uncle’s murder? Not to mention that the scene in the Sam Raimi version where Peter is wrestling is one of the best in the whole franchise, featuring not only the great Bruce Campbell, but the dearly-departed Randy “Macho Man” Savage.


(Incidentally, not to spoil the movie for anyone, but did he ever catch his uncle’s killer? Did we ever get that “Aha!” moment when he discovers his blunder and decides to become a crime-fighter?)

When they do bring some drama into the movie, it’s too ham-fisted to matter, like the scene near the climax where several crane operators are called in to give Spidey (who has saved exactly one kid in the movie at this point) something to web onto as he rushes to fight The Lizard and save the city. I’m still not sure how those crane operators knew he needed that boost, but whatever. And why weren’t they all, “Why’s that dude wearing red-and-blue underwear?”

I realize that this is just one bad movie among hundreds, but this one instills a fear in me. Tobey Maguire, who, despite his faults, was a great Peter Parker, was replaced after three movies because they wanted a younger guy to appeal to the Twilight audience. Will Tony Stark receive the same treatment in a couple years, despite the fact that Robert Downey, Jr, is Tony Stark? Will Thor get re-cast as some young meathead in a few years time? Will The Avengers simply get re-booted every few years with different people just to attract the next generation?

In the era of re-boots, re-makes and re-imagings, I fear the answer is yes.

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