BlueReview: The Amazing Spider-Manon July 5, 2012 at 7:05 am
Spider-man, Spider-man, does whatever a spider can. Spins a web, any size. Catches thieves just like flies. Look out! Here comes the Spider-man!
Okay, cheesy songs aside let’s break down the newest Marvel superhero movie – and this one a reboot of a movie just 10 years ago. Now, I need to start off with a bit of a disclaimer. Actually, two disclaimers.
First: Spider-man is my hero, he’s my go-to, and I think I’ve said that often enough most of you already know it. Second: I really REALLY liked the original two movies by Sam Raimi. Not so much the third. But the first two were great. The first movie was my favorite “superhero” movie for a long time.
So, that said, I’m naturally bound to grade this a little more tough. I’ll admit it right off the bat, and I hope you can forgive me. I’m going to try to be fair.
Which leads me to my “general” opinion. The movies good. It’s fun, charming and human, and the CGI was impressive. I’d recommend it to anyone.
Pleasantries aside, let’s get nitpicky!
All the great superheroes have traits and characteristics that define them. Batman is a detective who is driven to overcome his own humanity to become a savior because it is his only coping mechanism – thus meaning being Batman is both his strength and his weakness at the same time. Superman is a boy scout who represents goodness and old-fashioned American values while being ironically alien. Wolverine is the classic chicken and the egg: is he a soft-hearted man turned into a killer or is he a killer who is finally going soft after so many years? His personality and his past are both mixed shades of grey.
These distinguished qualities are very important among superheroes for two reasons. First, the great characters become great because they have these brilliant traits that make them both unique and relatable. Second – but more important – these are the lasting truths that carry over from writer to writer and project to project in a world as fluid as a comic hero. It’s what keeps the hero familiar from the first year of the comic to the tenth year, and into the cartoons and video games and the movies.
So, what is it about Spider-man that lasts? Peter Parker’s entire life defines the phrase “no good deed goes unpunished.” Even when something wonderful happens to him – being Spider-man – what he originally thinks is a blessing becomes a curse. Yet, as much as he wants to cast aside his mask he can’t ever bring himself to do it because he believes that he must rise above and do the right thing.
That is depth and theme. It’s meant to be deep because it gives the story meaning and value beyond just a guy with spider abilities fighting monsters.
All of the conversation thus far brings me to my one fundamental complaint about this new Spider-Man movie. Can you guess? Here’s a hint: there’s absolutely no depth to this movie.
Thin ice. Skin deep. Shallow water. Whatever metaphor you like – bottom line is there’s no depth in this movie.
Sure, there’s a story. A story that jumps points to quickly, is loaded with improbabilities, doesn’t grow or even define the characters, and I couldn’t help but feel like a lot of the best moments in this movie came right out of the Ultimate Spider-Man books. (More on this later when people have a chance to see the movie.)
The writing is charming and fun and filled with cute moments and quotable lines. The actors/actresses are brilliant – particularly Emma Stone and Denis Leary (no surprise). The action is top notch and I loved how they made Spidey so very well… spider-like. But that doesn’t make a great story.
For example: I didn’t understand Peter Parker in this movie at all. Not a bit. I don’t blame the actor Andrew Garfield, though I don’t think he helped sell “Peter” to me either. I never saw him as a nerd or even an outcast. Never understood why he got so mad at his Aunt and Uncle. He was kind of a ‘bad boy’ all throughout the movie. Even the moment where the switch flips and he really understand what it means to become Spider-Man didn’t “sell” to me. In fact, I’d go so far as to say none of the lessons in the movie ever sank in for this Peter.
The same goes with the villain. Just generally confusing. Was he a good guy who got overpowered by his own science? Or was his whole “good doctor” thing a facade? It was so vague I could never tell and thus I never knew whether I felt sympathy or disgust or what. I was completely indifferent to him the entire movie, which is a shame.
Uncle Ben’s role was trivialized, and Gwen fell in love with Peter so fast and handled the situation so absurdly perfect in every way. In fact, the only characters that I really thought were spot on were Aunt May and Captain Stacey.
Tag with that some plot-holes like how NOBODY noticed Parker can suddenly jump fifteen feet in the air and shatter a backboard, or throw a football seventy yards and dent a goalpost. Seriously? I’d have called the FBI. There were also waaaaaaaaaaay to many “convenient moments” that move the plot along “nice and neat.”
I’m getting carried away now. Bottom line… the movie IS fun and I enjoyed it. But it’s not really Spider-Man. It’s not even a real story. It’s a mosaic of action scenes and charming moments tied together loosely in a web. A nice way to spend two hours but not really memorable or lasting. I’m giving The Amazing Spider-Man three and a half spiders.
Oh! If you do go see it there’s a teaser in the middle of the credits but nothing at the end. So don’t sit there waiting like I did. There’s no scene with Peter eating Shawarma. Which is a shame. I think every Marvel movie needs a scene like that post credits now.