#78 - The Amazing Spider-Man (Marc Webb)

note: article may contain spoilers (uncle Ben dies - oops)


My love for Spider-Man goes back to my childhood and my adoration for Sam Raimi is deeply rooted in my teenage years, so when I heard that they’re rebooting the Spider-Man franchise my initial reaction was extremely surprising to me. I didn’t opt for the knee-jerk reaction of hating the very sound of that idea but instead I was quite open to it because, first of all, I didn’t want to see one of my favorite directors be the guy who does the Spider-Man movies for the rest of his life. And I liked his first Spider-Man film well enough and the third one was very flawed but still had flashes of brilliance - but that second film…

I still think that “Spider-Man 2” is the best film in the superhero genre. It’s the peak of this whole phenomenon and everything that came after it is just a gradual and steady decline in both value and quality*. But that’s another article altogether.

Anyway Raimi was out and the studio wanted a reboot, which is kind of understandable because not only did Raimi kill off all the major villains in his movies but his third film made the whole arc of the franchise a bit too convoluted.  And to top it off the actors where being paid boatloads of money just to reappear in the sequels. All those are great reasons to reboot the damn thing but then when they said that it was going to be another origin story my hopes for this film where all but crushed. And watching the film last night was just two hours of me shaking my head at the screen in frustration as I saw all those doubts and fears about “The Amazing Spider-Man” come true.

But yes, for me all the problems that this film has can be traced back to the fact that it’s another origin. First of all why would you even want to tell another origin of Spider-Man? The story is already so familiar and perfectly done in Raimi’s first film (it’s the only thing that the film portrayed flawlessly), and then you’d have to suffer the inevitable comparisons to that origin story because it was told just 10 years ago and in a magnificent way. This makes it impossible for me not to put these films side by side and compare them.

“Spider-Man” is still very fresh in people’s minds and technically this would work for you if you wanted to do something fresh and different and exciting with your property because all the boring stuff is already out of the way. And superhero origins are the boring and predictable stuff, every single superhero origin is exactly the same, just the suit is different. So this was a perfect situation where you have the blank slate to tell any Spider-Man story that you would want to tell without much fuss or complaint from the fanbase. But that’s not how Hollywood studios operate, they want what’s proven and safe and measurable. In other words they want the safest money possible and nothing else.

And even on its own terms, if we take out all that baggage, “The Amazing Spider-Man” is just a mess of a film. First of all why the hell is it so damn long? I’m not sure of the exact running time of the film (edit: 136 min.) but the goddamn thing felt like a three hour movie. For me it felt so long because it was already telling a familiar story and then it elongated it with additional padding and flashbacks to Peter’s childhood and his parents. By the way that “parents” subplot goes absolutely NOWHERE and is only used as a superficial link between Peter (Andrew Garfield) and the main baddie of the film (Rhys Ifans). But it’s a great idea to have that useless crap for the inevitable sequel! Sigh.

However what bugged me as a Spider-Man fan the most about “The Amazing Spider-Man” is the film’s frequent tendency to bend the rules of Spider-Man as a superhero. For example in a scene the Lizard attacks Spider-Man by surprise without triggering his spider sense. What? Then later the construction workers of New York have to align their conveniently placed cranes so Spider-Man can swing to his destination in time. So wait, swinging from building to building doesn’t work anymore? Funny because I’ve seen Spider-Man do exactly that a bunch of times before, in this goddamn movie!

Oh but no, they have to have that “You mess with one of us, you mess with all of us!” scene form the first film. I notice that and then shit starts falling in to place for me as I watch the film. Curt Connors aka The Lizard hears voices just like Norman Osborne did in the original film. There is an awkward dinner scene. There is a last wish of a dying antagonist who forces Peter to make a promise he can't hold. And Peter decides to refuse his love interest at the end of the film. Holy shit! It’s like the writers got the command from the studio to make the exact same film as Raimi’s “Spider Man” - but different. A stupid command like that would explain perfectly how Alvin Sargent, Steve Kloves and Jamie Vanderbilt, all more than capable writers, could have written such a predictable and messy script.

If there was a saving grace about this film then it’s certainly the films two young leads. I think Garfield is an amazing talent and Emma Stone is simply irresistible, but no fucking way. They can’t save this film. No actors could. And Marc Webb’s direction is all right I guess - he did okay with what he was given by the studio, although I kind of dislike the gimmicky first person shots. And visually the film is nowhere near what Sam Raimi did with his films and the kinetic energy he brought to his Spider-Man is beyond the reach of this corporate cash-grab. I also dislike the step towards a more gritty tone which doesn’t fit the character at all. But yeah, there's obviously much more to complain about but I've spent enough energy on this film already. Simply put it is not very good.


*Nolan’s Batman films have a few things to say (even the third one) as does Hellboy 2. The rest just seem very worthless as films, even if some are quite fun. But to be fair fun is sometimes quite enough.


Andrew Garfield - Peter Parker / Spider-Man
Emma Stone - Gwen Stacy
Rhys Ifans  - Dr. Curtis Connors / The Lizard
Martin Sheen - Uncle Ben
Dennis Leary -  Captain Stacy

The Amazing Spider-Man on IMDb

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