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Movie bannerI kind of delebritaly avoided “The Dark Knight Rises” this summer because I’ve never been a fan of where the nolan batman films were headed and this more than most, seemed to be something I wouldn’t enjoy.

“The Amazing Spider-man” was a whole other story.  I fully intended to go see it….if it came my way to a cheap theatre. That is to say,  I wasn’t going out of my way to go see it, but  I wouldn’t kick it out of bed if it showed up. It was never my intention to wait until it came out on DVD, but that’s just what happened. I had been adamant that a reboot wasn’t really the way to go and never liked the suit (even though we used it in Violent Blue last year)so I wasn’t anticipating this move the way I had Spider-films of the past.

Part of me wants to say this movie was middle of the road. The problem is that’s not true. middle of the road suggests it never reaches any heights, but never really disappoints either. That’s not the case here. This movie gets some things VERY right, and some things EXTREMELY wrong. It hits middle of the road by averaging, not by keeping a steady pace. Come to  think of it, I believe middle of the road might have been preferable.

What they get right:

Peter Parker.

Absolutely. One of the things I always hated about Raimi’s Spider-Man was Tobey Maguire as Pete. The funny thing is that Tobey was great as Spidey, but not as Peter. His Parker was too much of a loser. I couldn’t really root for him and that bugged me. Of course Raimi’s Peter was based more on the Parker of the late 60’s and early 70’s. I grew up with the Peter of the late 70’s and early 80’s – a more self-assured Peter, in college, with more of a friendship with Flash, and Harry there for comic relief. I loved the Peter of the 90’s He was a wallflower made good. The rejected and put-upon loser who grew into his looks, got a good job  and married a supermodel. that’s the Peter I like. It’s not the one Rami likes. That’s fine. He makes better movies than me anyhow.

Andrew Garfield really gives me a Peter I can root for. he’s not a geek, he’s more like….invisible. Not into sports so that’s a strike against him, and no one cares if he likes to take pictures or not. He’s just a nobody. i like that. It’s more enjoyable to watch someone who’s just awkward than it is to watch someone who’s delebritly playing a character from “Revenge of the Nerds” (a reason I never liked Christopher Reeve’s Clark Kent – Brandon Routh was a far better Kent, and George Reeves was the best). This Peter is compelling and I never got tired of watching him.

The other thing this movie gets right is the effects. Raimi is just used to using low tech effects. I understand, but I believe he never really utilized his budget the way he could have effects-wise. His CGI was all really straightforward. There were times when he abandoned them altogether, like when the Green Goblin is talking to Norman Osborne in the mirror (that really should have been a more dynamic greenscreen shot). This movie on the other hand TRIES to impress us with it’s effects – things like the CG door lock and displays, it uses special effects more creatively, and that’s something I credit to it being handled by a different kind of director.

Speaking of better effects, I LOVE the new web shooters. I especially love the flash of light every time he blasts a web out. That’s one of those effects  that’s just inspired. I hope the comics copy this look.

Finally, I love what they did with Gwen Stacy. This was a genuinely good updating of the character. She’s well-realized, likable, and still completely out of Peter’s league. I realize the waste of the character in “Spider-Man 3” was due more to studio interference (at least I assume it was. Critical of him as I am, I give Raimi more credit than that) Raimi still could have portrayed her better. She didn’t need to look like she had stepped right out of 1968….and in Amazing, she doesn’t

What they got wrong :


That’s a biggie. For a movie called “The Amazing Spider-Man” you really need to get Spidey right. This doesn’t even come close.

For every bit as good as Garfield is at being Peter Parker, that’s how bad he is as Spidey.  It’s a good thing then, as I stated above that I liked his Peter Parker so much. I’d rather see him work out of costume than in it.

The costume is a big part of it. Raimi got the costume right. He just….did. There was no good reason to change it, and the changes they made I think were poor choices.

The eyes especially. They’re dark and foreboding. The colors are muted and darker hues. that’s not who Spidey is. he’s not a dark and gritty avenger of the night, he’s your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man.  That costume should be bright, and it looks GREAT in the daylight, not shrouded in darkness like we see here. He needs big friendly eyes and quirky elastic movements and a friendly voice that cracks wise when he’s fighting. I see none of that here. You know that one moment in EVERY commercial where Spidey mocks the guy for pulling a knife on him? You know why that’s there? Because it’s the ONLY funny quip we get from Spidey. I need more. When I’d rather watch Peter Parker than Spider-Man, you know we’ve got a problem.

I wasn’t thrilled with the origin either. Maybe that’s a little unfair, and I believe that’s mostly because I’ve seen it done better  in the Rami movies, in the cartoons…even in the God-awful broadway musical. That’s a bit I could take or leave.

Aunt May. Who oh why did they cast Sally Field? You know what she does best? She makes strained, agonized faces and acts helpless. And boy does she do a bunch of that in this movie. Peter once said “One day, they’ll find a way to bottle the strength of Parker women” and that’s the key to understanding Aunt May. She’s frail and old and vulnerable, but under all of that is a strength and a will that just amazes you. That’s missing from Field’s May. Her Aunt May is just….empty and sad. I hate it.

I’m hoping for much better with the sequel. Let’s face it, Sony’s not going to stop making Spider-man movies any time soon. It’s my sincere hope that they understand what doesn’t work from this incarnation and stop trying to make another “Dark Knight”

In the mean time, I’m going to pop in the old movies and punctuate them with a few of the CG cartoon episodes from MTV.

Pages from Amazing Spider-Man 519 and Spider-Man 22

One response

  1. Pingback: The Amazing Spider-Man 2 | Argo City Comics

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