johnlink ranks THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN (2012)

I was not excited when news of this movie came out. I’m not sure if it is unprecedented to cancel an in-development sequel (the fourth Raimi film) and instead just reboot the series from scratch, but it sure feels that way. I understand that comic books do this all the time, so it shouldn’t be a big deal. But by restarting the Spidey story, and going forward with the second origin story in a decade, you are asking to be compared to the original. It’s one thing when something is relaunched after a generation, but it all seemed so premature. So what made me want to see this? I saw Andrew Garfield in a movie called NEVER LET ME GO, and his performance sold me on him. He didn’t make me rush out to theaters, but I was intrigued enough to see it eventually. And, well, eventually always comes around… eventually.

The-Amazing-Spider-Man2

I watched THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN (2012) on 5.18.13. It was my first viewing of the film.

I’m as torn on this movie as any I’ve seen in awhile. On the one hand, I appreciate the performances of Garfield as Peter Parker, Emma Stone as girlfriend Gwen Stacy (even if the character is written as a thirty year old instead of a teenager), Martin Sheen and Sally Field as Uncle Ben and Aunt May, Denis Leary as Captain Stacy (filling in for J Jonah Jameson as the crumudging Spidey hater), and Rhys Ifans as the ultimately villainous Dr. Connors. All were well cast, all were well realized. I liked the character creation portion of this film.

The movie itself, however, somehow already feels dated a year after its release. Well, maybe not dated in the sense that it feels archaic. But you watch this movie knowing it is not going to look good in ten years. That feeling dawned on me somewhere around the time that Spider Man was running through the streets talking on his cell phone. With its shiny (though not quite life-like) special effects, it is clear that this is a movie which was made for the present, probably because it was attempting to wash away the Raimi vision.

It feels like this SPIDER-MAN was given 10 ccs of Nolan world building in the concept phase. The world is dark, shadowy, dangerous. While there is some wit, much of it is less than developed (Peter bends a goalpost by throwing a football from sixty yards away… you would think that maybe someone would perhaps link that to the Spider-Man who constantly is taking his mask off). I didn’t dislike the world, but it didn’t feel particularly like it was fully fleshed out. It certainly looks nice, but it feels somewhat soulless. Raimi’s films felt like they lived in New York and had that New York mentality. When this movie tries to incorporate that concept in the climax, with a bunch of crane operators helping Spidey get somewhere fast, it comes across as cheap and so terribly forced.

On the other hand, I loved some of the beats which came as surprises. Gwen finds out the truth about Peter very early, bucking most every other super-hero-with-a-hidden-identity story. I liked what this gave us, even if the idea of a high school senior, we’re talking Gwen here, having the key and ability to get into and out of Oscorp whenever she likes feels like it doesn’t fit. I just didn’t particularly care for the story, and the weird sort of boxes its characters had to fit into. Gwen as high school executive, her dad as the Captain who goes in with the first line of police attackers, and Dr. Connors as a guy who has to flip from moral to immoral in a very short amount of screen time. Through all of this, Peter manages to stay on track and keep his head above water, probably because his super-hero status lets us look the other way on character issues. And, again, ll of these people are likable. The script just didn’t nail them all down right.

I was trying not to compare this to Raimi. I hate doing that. But so many moments happened that were extremely close to the 2002 version that it was hard not to make them. And, sure, I know this all comes from the comic book origin story. The problem, though, is that we KNOW this stuff. In a way, I wish the movie started with him already BEING the webslinger and told what it needed through flashback. That might have given the movie more immediacy and allowed to feel like its own story. Instead, this does often feel like a rehashing.

Would I like it more if I didn’t know the original? Perhaps. It is hard to say. And I reiterate again that I was entertained, just not completely satisfied. Too few scenes felt like they lived up to their full potential (though the WOLVERINE people need to watching this movie to discover how to get a scene right wherein a super hero is discovering his talents in a bathroom). I came away from this new SPIDER-MAN confident that I will watch the next one, but curious if it can fix some of its blemishes. I actually think a story which doesn’t need to give us any origin will really help elevate the good stuff.

SCORES

FILM: 4; MOVIE: 8; ACTING: 6; WRITING: 3

4+8+6+3+0=21

FINAL SCORE: 5.25

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~ by johnlink00 on May 19, 2013.

6 Responses to “johnlink ranks THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN (2012)”

  1. Yeah I agree with you that this entry was not as enjoyable as Raimi’s versions. His seemed to evoke the same joy I got from reading the comics. This version (like you said) was trying to hard to be in the Nolan camp of dark brooding superheroes. Good Review

  2. Thanks for reading! At least it wasn’t so bad that I want to abandon the series altogether. Maybe I’m too much of an optimist, but I think the second one can get it right if they play up the joy you mentioned. And ‘joy’ is absolutely the right word. It needs to be there in a Spidey film.

  3. Nice review. My thoughts were similar, I just think I liked it a little less than you. I felt that the first Raimi film did everything this was attempting, but better.

    • Yeah. I watched the end again after posting the review. My wife had fallen asleep and when I came home from work she was finishing it up. I came up with three or four other major issues, not the least of which is why Spidey’s powers suddenly disappear when he is falling off the building at the end (I know his web shooters were broken, but he fails to grip the building and has to be saved by Connors).
      I can’t imagine just choosing to watch this again. I’m also beginning to think that my ‘movie’ score was a notch or two too high.

  4. I felt like this was a lot stronger than the first Raimi film, but did fall short of the superb second. I really liked what they did with the casting of Andrew Garfield and making Peter an outcast because he’s awkward, not because he’s smart (Do kids still prominently pick on just smart kids or is it just awkward ones, anyway?) I also felt like Uncle Ben’s death was a lot more powerful here. My main problem with it was the villain — he didn’t do much for me, and that is the one loss that is felt with this reboot after Raimi stealthily built up Dr. Connors’ presence. I do understand the complaints regarding the Nolan-izing of the franchise, and it’s something that a lot of people are scared of for “Man of Steel,” too (though I think that’s going to be far more successful what with the tone they’re going with). I remember after this film was announced as a reboot rather than sequel that I was one of the few who didn’t think it was too soon. “Spider-Man 3” was just horrendous and really made me not want to return to that universe — all the retconning crap and the awful handling of Harry’s death is far more unforgivable in my eyes than a reboot. I loved that the new film attempted to be different while recalling certain elements of the old. That’s my ideal for a reboot, really. Same concepts, but with new spins, new feel, new cast, etc. I feel like once the “Amazing” films run their course and the Spidey films are yet again rebooted (possibly under Marvel Studios?), we’ll get yet another “new feel” film that will divide audiences, some of whom will look fondly upon this series and ask, “Why so soon?” … unless the second just sucks.

  5. Great comment! I do think Martin Sheen’s Uncle Ben was strong, though I wish they had invented a slightly more creative way of offing him, since Raimi had done the exact same thing. Now, I know that the comic source needs to be honored and that Peter’s actions have to lead to his death. But I wish the moments didn’t so obviously mirror one another. None of that is Sheen’s fault, who plays it brilliantly, or Garfield’s fault who really nails the emotion of the scene.
    I understand what you mean about Spider Man 3. Same thing happened to X-Men 3. I liked the way they found a way around that in doing subsequent films. In fact, my biggest problem with Amazing Spider Man was possibly the fact that it felt the need to be an origin story at all. We know the origin, so why not start with what would have been their second or third story as a way of not doing the same first act (with some differences, as you mentioned) as Raimi’s film?

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