Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The Amazing Spider-Man Review

The Amazing Spider-Man

Well, I haven't done a movie review in a while so here goes.  If you do not want spoilers for this movie, stop reading now.  My critiques of this movie require that I spoil plenty of it.

Everyone who doesn't want spoilers is gone now, right?


I liked it.  I didn't love it.  I think Sam Raimi's first Spider-Man movie was an all-around better movie and a better representation of the character.  Webb's Amazing Spider-Man catches some of the hallmarks of the character that Raimi didn't while dropping some others.
So first off, what I liked:
-The acting is way better than the acting in the Raimi films.
-The action is also much better; the fight choreography is extremely clever and makes great use of Spider-Man's and the Lizard's abilities.
-Spidey has web shooters in this one and we even get to see a montage of the construction process.
-Rather than being killed off, Dr. Connors is somewhat redeemed in the movie's climax; still being jailed but shown to be regaining his compassion.
-True to the comics, Gwen Stacy is the first love of Peter Parker in this universe (although it does skip over Daily Bugle receptionist Betty Brant as his first girlfriend and, in fact, leaves the Bugle entirely absent from the story).
-Again true to the comics, Flash Thompson becomes a Spider-Man fanboy.
-The entire second half of the movie is very thoroughly entertaining.
-Spider-Man is a trash-talker; a hallmark from the comics that Raimi missed.

What I didn't like:
-There are a couple of unresolved plot threads (which may be lead-ins for sequels though I can't be sure):  Norman Osborn never appears on-screen, but is said to be dying and Connors is in charge of curing him.  Once Connors becomes the Lizard, Norman's never mentioned again.
-I forget the character's name but there is an Oscorp employee who shuts down Connors research and is attacked by the Lizard at one point but survives and...totally disappears for the rest of the movie despite being portrayed as a prominent character until then.
-Aunt May is vaguely implied to suspect that Peter is Spider-Man in one scene but we never get any confirmation that she knows.
-The characters of Harry Osborn and Eddie Brock are nowhere to be found.  This isn't really an issue with the quality of the film as much as it is a personal nitpick.
-The first half of the movie really drags.  I found myself amazed that it had only been 2 and a half hours when I walked out of the theater; it felt like it had been at least 4.
-Barring 2 very short shots, the 3D was not utilized very well.
-The mid-credits scene hardly set anything up.  It was an obvious sequel hook but told the audience nothing about what they could look forward to.
-There is an awkward period joke between Gwen Stacy and her father; disturbingly reminiscent of the masturbation joke between Sam and his parents in Transformers (2007).

What I absolutely hated:
-The handling of Uncle Ben's death and the following pursuit of his killer.  It starts out mostly the same; Peter lets a criminal go due to a petty grudge against the man who was robbed.  The criminal happens across Uncle Ben and shoots him.  Then things totally fall apart.
First note that Peter's grudge against the victim of the robbery (in this case a convenience store clerk) isn't even legitimate; he was short 2 cents for a bottle of milk and the clerk refused to let him buy it.  More importantly is the movie's failure to even recognize the entire point of this whole situation.
Peter doesn't go after the criminal right away, learn it's the same guy he let go earlier, and realize his folly.  No.  In this iteration, he goes out for revenge after realizing that it was his fault.
The original flow did a great service to the entire "responsibility" theme of the character.  Spectacular Spider-Man even built upon it by having Spidey ultimately save the crook in honour of what Uncle Ben taught him.  In The Amazing Spider-Man, that's all thrown right out the window.
Peter already knows he screwed up but, in complete disregard of Uncle Ben's teachings, spends several nights beating to a pulp every crook he can find who he thinks might be the same guy.  Keep in mind that he does this before being able to confirm whether or not he's attacking the right person (checking for a defining tattoo only after breaking a few ribs or so).  And, of course, he does this once before having a mask putting himself and everyone he might be seen with in danger.
Incidentally, Uncle Ben's killer is yet another unresolved plot thread; Peter gives up the search for him after Captain Stacy, at a dinner Peter attends, makes note to mention that everyone Spider-Man is attacking has similar features.
So rather than give up on his revenge because he wants to honour what his only real father figure taught him shortly before dying, this Spider-Man gives up just because the police are on to him.
That is not responsibility!
Changing the origin story for the sake of originality is a fine idea; probably a good one in this case since everyone knows the original story by now and it's nice to have something new.  This particular change, however, made little sense and only served to damage one of the strongest themes of the titular character.

The recent boom of superhero movies was lead by Sam Raimi's 2002 Spider-Man film and it's easy to see why; that movie was very good.  It represented the character mostly accurately, it had an incredibly concise script (there was maybe 20 seconds of filler in the whole movie), the story was well-told and the effects were state of the art for the time.  (Unfortunately, the following two sequels didn't keep up the quality.)
10 years hence, Marc Webb has quite an act to follow and I don't think he made as strong of a movie.  It's worth seeing, though not in 3D, and it has some good and refreshing takes on certain aspects.  It also has some significant problems (that will probably irk comic fans more than the average movie-goer).
In the end, I doubt I'll be making room for this movie on my shelf.  It's just OK.

I played through the 3DS game in the week leading up to the movie (perhaps a mistake since it takes place after the movie and spoiled certain plot points) and just want to say that it's OK too.

1 comment:

  1. Totally unnecessary re-boot, but it was still very fun and entertaining. Also, Garfield was a nice choice for Peter Parker even if I do miss Tobey Maguire just a tad bit. Just a tad, though. Good review Erik.