Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Amazing Spider-Man

"The Amazing Batman" is a weird and confusing movie that completely ignores the proper Batman mythos.  It just gets everything WRONG.  Absolutely WRONG.  For some reason Batman is dressed up in a ridiculous red and blue costume, and he has super powers which he just kinda gets from a radioactive spider.  His parents aren't rich, they don't get gunned down in front of him, they only disappear, so instead Batman's adoptive father, Uncle Ben, has to get killed way later in the movie.  Batman isn't scary, he's instead flying around dressed like an idiot, not using any gadgets other than this hookshot Tarzan-vine swing web stuff.  And he's yet another awkward Hollywood teenager, as if Batman needed that.  I don't know why there's this running obsession with spiders, when the character is called BATman.  No Alfred, its New York instead of Gotham, Commissioner Gordon is totally wrong, there's no recognizable Batman villains and instead this new villain called the Lizard.  The movie was okay, and it would have been great if it were named anything but "The Amazing Batman".  How did Christopher Nolan get it so wrong??

Oh wait crap, this isn't actually a Batman movie, is it?  I've been doing Batman for so long I can't seem to let him go.

"The Amazing Spider-Man" is actually the best Spider-Man movie ever made.  And I know this is going to be a controversial call since the previous three Sam Raimi Spider-Man movies are so well-received and beloved (at least the first two are), but no, this one is by far the best. Yeah, "Spider-Man" in 2002 might have helped save Superhero movies in the public eye after "Batman and Robin" did so much ill to the genre, but still, I don't like that movie.  And I hate "Spider-Man 2", and like everybody else I really hate "Spider-Man 3".  After I saw this movie, I even tried to rewatch "Spider-Man 2" and got so annoyed with the goddamn pizza delivery and Toby Maguire whining endlessly about how being a superhero means he can't have a girlfriend.  Oh fuck you, Toby Maguire, shut the Hell up.  You're a superhero, goddamnit!  Shut up, grow some balls, fight crime, and quite whining!  Well, luckily that's what happened here, a new actor came along, Andrew Garfield, who played Peter Parker as a stronger character.

I knew coming into this movie that it would be the weakest superhero movie of the big three of 2012, the other two being "The Avengers" and "The Goddamn Dark Knight Rises".  And yeah, it is pretty clearly weaker than "The Avengers", but not by a whole lot.  The movie is somewhat bogged down by the fact that it has to tell a whole new Spider-Man origin story, when I think by now we all know the drill.  There's definitely room for improvement with "The Amazing Spider-Man", but Mark Webb's* re-imagining of the Spider-Man story seems to work far better than Sam Raimi's universe.  What really matter is that Webb got the main characters right, everything fits, especially Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy.  So altogether I'm ready for a sequel.  This is a solid superhero movie, when far too many superhero movies feel just horribly mediocre lately.

My first thought upon seeing the trailers for "Amazing Spider-Man" were two things:  1) the new costume is terrible, and 2) why the heck is Emma Stone dying her hair blond to play Mary-Jane?  Well, as it turns out she's not MJ, she's instead this other Spider-Man love interest called "Gwen Stacy", who I only remembered as this pointless secondary love interest in "Spider-Man 3".  Turns out Gwen Stacy is actually hugely important for the comic books, which is funny because every cartoon, comic, and movie I've seen of Spider-Man before always had Mary-Jane as the love interest.  Turns out Gwen Stacy was tragically murdered decades ago, and is much beloved because of it among comic book fans.  Also she fucked Norman Osborn and had kids with him, apparently.  You learn new things everyday.

So anyway, "The Amazing Spider-Man" was created mostly because Columbia Pictures is contractually obligated to keep making Spider-Man movies forever, lest they lose their license and then Spider-Man would have to join the Marvel Movie Universe.  I'm glad Columbia kept their license, because Marvel appear to only be decent when they want to make real movies, instead of ninety-minute trailers for other bigger films, thus you get disappointments like "Captain America".  Fortunately for everybody, Sam Raimi realized that his Spider-Man series had pretty much crashed and burned in disastrous fashion with "Spider-Man 3" so instead of making another shitty movie, he let Mark Webb come in.  Toby Macguire was out, Andrew Garfield was in.  Emma Stone is Gwen Stacy instead of Mary-Jane, I guess partially to differentiate these movies from the old ones, and partially because no actress alive can ever be as hot as Mary-Jane Watson (or ever physically sit in that pose).  The new costume is terrible-looking, but they couldn't use the old one because... its old?  Mark Webb even gave a BS excuse for why the Lizard is the villain in this movie, because supposedly he speaks directly to the themes of this movie (of loss and loneliness or something), when in fact the Lizard was picked because all of Spider-Man's more memorable villains have already been used in previous films.

Also, Spider-Man for some reason now uses webshooting technology instead of just naturally having these as a superpower.  Apparently for insane comic fans, it is HUGELY important that Peter Parker invent his webshooters instead of growing them, even though that makes very little sense.  Spider-Man got his powers from a radioactive spider bite, what is he also a stupidly genius inventor?  Its like if Superman also was the last son of Kryton and yet had to invent laser glasses to have laser vision.  Its stupid.

Anyway, now that I'm done comparing this to the movies that came before, maybe I can actually review "Amazing Spider-Man".  Once again Peter Parker is an orphan raised by his Aunt May and Uncle Ben in New York City where he's an awkward kid longing for Mary-Jane, I mean, Gwen Stacy.  This time, however, Peter's parents actually function into the plot, because they were big time scientists working on an equation that would allow super easy gene splicing science stuff, until they had to run away from evil Oscorp.  Peter Parker tries to learn about his parents, which leads him to Dr. Mad Science, this science dude at Oscorp who is trying to regrow his arm using science.  That same science results in Peter Parker getting bitten by a radioactive spider, and thus sciencing into Spider-Man, superhero.  Then Uncle Ben gets murdered, so Spider-Man must of course fight crime, as one does whenever a family member is killed.  Dr. Science meanwhile adds too much spice to his science and then sciences into the Lizard, a big crazy monster that does crazy monster stuff.  Spider-Man and the Lizard then fight a lot.

Mark Webb previously directed "(500) Days of Summer", a great faux-romantic comedy, so its actually the romantic and interpersonal relations that he really cares about.  This is why it takes almost forty-five before Spider-Man is out fighting crime, when before everything else is setting up relationships.  Its particularly the work of Martin Sheen as Uncle Ben and Emma Stone as Mary-Jane, goddammit, GWEN STACY, that really works here.  I mean, Martin Sheen is Martin Sheen, he's a perfect Uncle Ben.  And Emma Stone is an amazing actress, and she works with even the most insufferable of high school awkwardness material and makes it shine.  Andrew Garfield comes off better under the mask than out of it, and he mostly mumbles and stumbles through his lines, while Emma Stones shines.  Pretty much everybody is excellent here, even Dr. Science, even when he goes totally nuts and decides in proper "Blood Waters of Dr. Z" fashion lizard-people are just better and that everybody should be a lizard.  Then there's Dennis Leary as Commissioner Stacy.  All you need to know is that its Dennis Leary, this movie is already better.

However, what really matters for a superhero movie is the action.  And again, this is where "Amazing Spider-Man" succeeds far better than the old Spider-Mans.  Neo Spidey is far more acrobatic and fast than his old counterpart, this is mostly due to the advances of CG over a decade.  You can actually see Spider-Man's skills of speed and agility and strategic use of webbing to knock an enemy down, its a fast and exciting movie.  Plus its helped because the new Spider-Man is a snarky bastard with really funny lines.  Spider-Man's heroics are really effective this time, nothing will get me to endear to a hero more than him rescuing a little kid from a burning car.  Even when this movie gets really cheesy - which it does BIG TIME - I felt the movie still earned its cheesiness, unlike "Spider-Man 2" with that ridiculous scene on the train.  Yeah, I'm a hypocrite, deal with it.

Ultimately "The Amazing Spider-Man" is actually something of an... amazing movie.  Spider-Man definitely needed a fresh jolt to the system, a full restart, much as "X-Men: First Class" gave us last year with the X-Men franchise.  There's definitely room for improvement here, pretty much the same tone problems that all superhero movies always seem to have.  Hollywood still doesn't have the superhero formula down, which is amazing considering how many of these things they've made, and they still keep falling into the same pacing issues of finding room for both an origin story and a battle against a big villain thing.  Peter Parker's character is something of a selfish teenage brat half the time, but a hero the other half of the time, I guess he still has growing to do.  But as a superhero movie, "Amazing Spider-Man" was far more enjoyable than "Captain America" or fucking "Green Lantern" or the other seventy-five mediocre superhero films I've had the misfortune to see in my life.  I think "Amazing Spider-Man 2" might get the formula exactly right.  Or maybe it will suck.  Either way, here's yet another decent movie to fill up your 2012 movie year.

* How awesome is the director's name?  Mark Webb.  He's perfect.  When Batman gets rebooted after "Batman 3" they should find a director with the last name "Wayne".


  1. Movie Bob hated this movie, so now I'm not sure what to think. I'll have to check out Spoony's opinion now.

    1. Moviebob is out of his goddamn mind on this movie. I have no idea what his deal is with this Spiderman movie, but at worst this movie is mediocre. Bob just hates anything that means he can't have his beloved Avengers + Spiderman.

    2. Just saw this movie today, an I've gotta agree with you. This blows the previous franchise out of the water. I loved the first person segments where you were looking out of Spidey's eyes. They gave you a sense of what it's like to swing around like that, but were short and infrequent enough that they never overstayed their welcome.

  2. I was pleasantly surprised by the movie. I went in thinking I was going to see another train wreck of one of my favorite childhood Heroes and came out feeling like I was 11 seeing spider-man for the first time on the big screen. I only have two problems with the film:

    1) The Webshooters: One of the things that made me instantly dislike this movie was that they were bringing back the mechanical webshooters. Not saying I don't like the mechanical ones it's just that the organic ones are were convenient and I knew they wouldn't have the excuse to say spider-man ran out of fluid or a rock hit his wrist and broke it. But then again the mechanical ones are good for drama and seeing as he has limited shots spider-man has to use them strategically. But i like I always say, different strokes for different folks.

    2)The Crane Scene: My God was this cheesy as HELL! I know the New Yorkers scenes from the first two movies are stupid and cheesy, but at least in there their believable and if you read the comics you kind of expect that. But my god was the crane scene hilariously stupid! The Spoonyone and brother can explain better then I could here.

    But other wise then that it was great. Did Spider-Man really need a reboot? No. But was it worth it? Yes. And FYI: For none comic nerds, Peter DID have a crush on MJ when they were growing up, but since she was out of his league he kinda settled with Gwen, whom he grew up and was closer with, but just saw as a friend. If you ever find a copy where she <*SPOILERS*>dies<*SPOILERS*> that thing will really pull your heartstrings.

  3. Jesus, am I the only fucking person who likes the Rami moviesanymore?

  4. Andrew Garfield is just an incredible actor, way better than Tobey (wide eyed) Maguire, just genuinely a convincing nerd and snarky superhero. A great film, I preferred it to Avengers, big shock.

  5. The last movie I saw in theaters was The Avengers.
    I REALLY disliked it, but I think it's because I walked into it with the wrong mindset.

    This time I walked into The Amazing Spiderman just...expecting a good time, and that's EXACTLY what I got. And so much more!

    I won't write a review but the one thing I will comment on: Andrew Garfields portrayal of a socially awkward teenager is the best portrayal I've ever seen. That scene where he tried to ask the very pretty Emma Stone out, my God my sides were moving on their own.

  6. I agree that it didn't mix up the formula or bring anything new to the table to make it worth the redux. Garfield is a better fit in the role but that's about it. It’s just a film that didn’t really need to be redone, even if it is a well-done one. Good review.

  7. I have a feeling it's MUCH BETTER than Dark knight rises and the latter is overated, but I just love spider-man, and "Dr. mad scinses" name is Curt connors, pal.

  8. Can't back up the Amazing Spider-Man at all.
    Nevermind the fact that I found Spider-Man surprisingly poignant and genuinely exciting as a superhero movie from the first time it had been released in 2002 all the way to now, but the Amazing Spider-Man was just unnecessary of a film. I'm not as nostalgic about Spider-Man 2 and certainly not happy with Spider-Man 3, I hate it more than the Amazing Spider-Man.
    But the Amazing Spider-Man just was not a good movie.
    It could've went into places Raimi never went to, it could've brought new life to the comic book film, but instead it played out as a lifeless script treatment of a high school drama. Peter Parker is a brooding kid from beginning to end, before Uncle Ben is even killed. His romance with Gwen Stacy was underdeveloped. Flash was inconsistent in the three scenes he was in, I would've rather they never used the character.

    The biggest gripe I have is with what The Amazing Spider-Man claimed they were bringing to the table turned out to be absolutely empty promises. Norman Osborn's disappearance was bad laughably obvious by the sudden showcase of the shadowy bust they had in the OsCorp tour.
    Are you fucking kidding me? Is that a whole obnoxious 'I'm gonna deliberately not show you the face because I want to be incredibly mysterious as a picture' instead of being unassuming about the whole deal and letting the ambiguity flow naturally?
    Curt Conners' transformation into the Lizard was actually a well-treated part of the story, particularly with his being ridden on by Irfan Khan's character, but then his whole plan to flood the city with that mutation cloud was once again, worse than the more cliche comic book villain schemes I've seen since I was a child... At least the Green Goblin, despite a bad design, had a personal vendetta with everyone he targeted.
    The worst part, the biggest crime, was the sudden focus on the parents. There's three reasons why it was absolutely appalling to use.
    1) They don't say anything about his parents. They act like they're a big part of the story, but by the end of the movie, nothing is known about them except Richard worked for OsCorp with Connors. Nothing jaw-dropping out of that. Then they make the mid-credit scene in prison to laugh at us, teasing like they have more to say... when there was nothing said to begin with. By the end of the movie, I polled all of my friends who loved The Amazing Spider-Man (ie. Everyone who saw it for some reason - including my brother who I saw it with) to name the parents of Peter Parker. Half of them were able to name Richard as the father, nobody except one guy could name Mary as the mother.
    2) It doesn't matter. It just doesn't. Richard and Mary Parker left Peter's life and they never returned and it never affected Peter in the comics (it had weight in the Ultimate Spider-Man universe, but never so severe). For all intents and purposes, Ben and May Parker are Peter's parental figures. They were the ones who shaped Peter into the man he became, not his parents... which leads me to the third reason.
    3) They downplayed Ben and May's role at this point. Their importance to Peter's life was absolutely nullified. Instead of feeling the pull I felt when I saw Ben die in 2002's Spider-Man, I instead thought 'Huh, they shot him already?' in 2012's The Amazing Spider-Man.
    It was an immensely rushed and bloodless picture that thought just from its existence it was going to change the Spider-Man game the way Batman Begins did to the Batman game and instead, it came off as movie that was all the bad parts of the Ultimate universe and the Harry Potter stories.

    What really disappointed me was that they had two better lead actors than Raimi's series (Garfield and Stone), which promised more, but nope...

    1. Looking back at the length of this, I really ought to have put this on my own blog.
      Sorry that a sudden rant appeared on your comments section. >.>

    2. Honestly, a lot of people seem mad that the "long lost parents" plotline never got resolved, and apparently in the middle of production they actually did answer these questions but cut them out in the midsts of six or seven rewrites. But this didn't feel like a movie that was cut to pieces like some other people saw it, yeah, it was more or less pointless to exist, but whatever. I figured the parent thing would just get answered in Amazing Spider-Man 2. Then again, I had the same feelings with Prometheus, which remains the best horror movie I've seen from 2012.

      I didn't want much out of this movie, just a super hero movie to take my little brother to, and I was more entertained than I thought I was. Maybe its because I have a crush on Emma Stone, maybe its because I honestly hated the original Spider-Man films.

      Honestly, I think its simple. If you liked the Sam Raimi Spider-Man, you won't like this one. If you didn't like those movies, you might find this movie entertaining. I never saw this as being a Batman Begins to Batman and Robin, more like... The Incredible Hulk to Hulk.

  9. Very fair analysis, and again, my apologies for this sudden rant on your comment section.
    I actually haven't met anyone who was mad about the parents plotline, they actually considered it a strength when they couldn't understand that it was resolved. I think a major part of my hate being fueled is them saying that the movie is better because they say so much about his parents and I'm pointing out 'no, that's not the case.'