When you’re going to reboot a successful franchise after just a few years because you’re a bunch of creatively bankrupt, greedy bastards, go ahead and REBOOT the fucker. Skip the Superman Returns, watch J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek – that is how this shit is done.
What’s old is old. Again.
The Amazing Spider-Man amazed me all right – with its pointless. Nothing, absolutely nothing is ‘new’ with Spider-Man, except for new box office ca-ching and casting changes.
- Andrew Garfield isn’t Tobey Maguire, but Spider-Man is more or less the same Peter Parker – with even more issues.
- Dr. Connors is a new villain, Uncle Ben is now Jed Bartlet and Aunt May is Norma Rae.
- Mary Jane is now Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone, The Help). As I left the theater a few older gentlemen where discussing the comics and the girlfriend switch as not mattering, one way or the other.
The only twists are Peter’s even more contrived involvement with the whole plot, the big bad dark back story, the acquisition of the powers in the first place, and did I mention, contrivance.
Issues? Contrivance? Bite me.
Pathos and emotional depth do not require fucking issues.
Not only is this Peter Parker saddled with the ‘I coulda, shoulda’ guilt regarding Uncle Ben, he’s given Abandonment issues because his parents chose – forced by some mysterious mystery – to leave. His dad, hotshot scientist hiding Secret, leaves with Mom.. and you know what happens. In this version, there is no reason for Mom to leave her son, nothing I could see.
Anyway as Peter starts nosing around his Dark Past, he uncovers his father’s secret and promptly turns it over to the wrong guy. Add an order of ‘It’s my fuck up, I gotta make it right’ neurosis on the side. Blech.
What makes a hero?
If we’re going back to what makes Peter a hero, this version did a mixed job. He’s a decent enough kid, smart and capable, making one good impression in the beginning – standing up to a school bully.
Then he’s all ‘Mission: ME!’ with the breaking into Level 7 security science labs with exactly 0.45 degree of difficulty; add Super Spiders and since it’s not a spoiler, he changes. Into a douche.
- First thing he does: tortures that same bully. Yes I know the first movie did that, but here – in this time of Facebook ridicule driving kids to suicide and kids posting their bullying on YouTube – it was way too much. He enjoyed it, well past the point he’d gotten ‘even.’
- Second thing he does: doesn’t act like a hero – when he could of and it costs him someone he loves. Instead of seeing guilt and shame and struggle for atonement, all we see is a quick turn to revenge.
- Third thing Peter does: gleefully goes after any thug he wants, his barbs and taunts wrongly used as the ‘humor’ in the movie, until he’s labeled a vigilante (rightly so by the awesome Denis Leary).
- Finally it’s the aforementioned “It’s all about me so I gotta be the hero” thing; like watching Clark Kent never do anything in fucking Smallville unless it threatened his girl or his secret.
He didn’t kill his Uncle, he didn’t make the bad guys bad – but Peter did make mistakes, he did make choices. The true angst of the Peter Parker story is nothing he can do can ever make right what went wrong; so like any hero, he becomes something more so he can learn from it, move forward, make a difference. He can’t be everywhere, save everyone; he can only do what he can do. Very little of that here, even as Spider-Man saves the city. (Not a spoiler! That’s half the movies ever made.)
It’s Villain Time
It’s why we need heroes – when our own problems are too much for us to face and we need help that only someone super can give.
So the Big Bad plots his big, evil ways. Spidey steps in versus the Lizard Monster he created – which yes is as lame as he sounds – saves some kid and since his dad had a speaking part, you knew it’d come back in a ‘city supports its savior’ way. And we have the big to-do and everyone’s involved and of course some one dies. Yawn.
Nits I can’t help but pick
Security! Lack thereof at Halliburton HQ, or Oscorp. So breezily can a high school kid with a purloined visitor’s badge walk into and out of secured labs, research facilities without ever being stopped or seen. Sure he’s ‘led’ to the room by a doodle somehow connected to his father, but it’s still too much with the hacking and really, no cameras or counter-intrusion measures of any kind?!
What a tangled web. Of bullshit. This version uses mechanical web-throwers (of the comics) which I liked. Shades of Iron Man, it shows that this Peter Parker is smart, talented and can create for himself. What’s crap is the web itself – some biocable of Oscorp, you know, behind all the security. Apparently a high school kid with a blue collar allowance and a fucking PayPal account can go order one-of-a kind Military-Industrial grade BioCable on the Internet. And no one questions who’s buying all this web that’s now covering the city, tracks it, anything?!
Spider-Man isn’t a bad movie. Technically it’s probably good and well-done and entertaining – to anyone who’s never seen any superhero story in the last decade.
Final Snark: I liked what little we had of Ben and May, a believable family dynamic revealed over meatloaf. The rest – powers, love story, villains – either broke my disbelief suspension system or was just too damn familiar to even care.
Other stories. Just because.
- A Superhero Movie Lacking in Bite, but Oozing with Taste (snspost.com)
- PAR Editorial: The Amazing Spider-Man film fails on nearly every level (Full spoilers, be warned) (penny-arcade.com)
- Fug or Fab: Emma Stone (gofugyourself.com)