No, no, no, no, NO, NO, NO! A thousand times no! Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. Perhaps if I didn’t do what I’ve always done…..I stayed and watched after the credits. In this extra scene, we see a character in shadows speaking. I’m pretty sure I know who it was, and on my ride home from the theater I put a few more two and twos together,(such as a large and clear hand print of Spider-Man’s blood) and came up with something horrible if I am correct. In a way it makes sense, because ever spider-writer wants to try and fix the biggest blunder in spider history. The “Clone Saga“. It makes spider-fans everywhere cringe to just hear it mentioned, and seemingly every writer wants their chance to “fix” it. If the inevitable sequels lead down this road….oh dear.
Until this point I would probably have given Amazing Spider-Man a passable 3 star rating, but this just really threw it in the toilet for me. Now the movie was not all bad, but there certainly weren’t that many good points in my opinion. First, why was this film even made? Amazing Spider-Man only really exists because if Sony; who owns the movie rights to the character, didn’t make another “Spider-Man” film they would lose those rights. And the reason the film takes the form of a reboot, is because the studio had a falling out with Sam Raimi, who directed the first three Spider-Man movies. This is also why Fox has to keep making X-Men movies if it wants to retain the rights to that property, otherwise the characters return to Marvel (now owned by Disney if you recall) and would be free to join up with all the characters such as the Avengers, under that studio’s banner. This time out, instead we have director Mark Webb who is best known for 500 Days of Summer, and a series of music videos. Perhaps someone was hoping for another David Fincher who also came from a music video background; or perhaps someone out there just chuckled at the thought of a guy named Webb directing a Spider-Man movie. Get it? Webb, web, Spider-Man, webs….Get it? (sigh)
Actually Webb did a decent job directing his all-star cast. From Campbell Scott as Richard Parker, and Embeth Davidtz as Mary Parker, Peter’s soon to be absent parents, to Martin Sheen and Sally Field as Uncle Ben and Aunt May. (A quick aside, Embeth Davdtz is our Sam Raimi link in this film, as she was in his Army of Darkness film, opposite Bruce Campbell, who was sadly absent from Amazing Spider-Man, but does turn up as a voice in the video game…) Emma Stone was a very good choice for Gwen Stacy, and I enjoyed her take on the character, who we all pretty much know will die once a certain Green Goblin arrives in the rebooted franchise. Sorry if that’s a spoiler to anyone, but really Gwen Stacy died at Gobby’s hands back in July of 1973, and if you didn’t know that, turn in your officially licensed Spider-Man Fan Club t-shirts to Mr. Thompson. Speaking of which, I actually rather enjoyed Flash Thompson this time around. He was well played, and true to the comics, starts out as Peter Parker’s bully-nemesis, but eventually will develop into one of his best friends, something we did see the beginning of on screen. A nice touch was the Spider-Man-esque t-shirt he wears towards the end of the movie, as everyone knows Flash became Spidey’s biggest supporter, even starting a fan-club at Midtown High. Rhys Ifans as the Lizard (Dr. Curt Connors) was alright, but I still have Dylan Baker in my mind from the Raimi trilogy as Connors, and would have loved to have seen that thread that was present through the last two films (I have vague recollections of him being in the first, but can’t be certain) develop.
Andrew Garfield was Peter Parker and Spider-Man this time out, and I for one did not really like him. Gone was the nerdiness of Tobey Maguire’s Parker replaced with an outsider with a bit of a chip on his shoulder, trying to force “New Yorker” attitude. I will admit I liked that this time around Parker assembles and creates his own “web-shooters” rather than the “organic” webbing of Raimi’s films, but aside from that, I didn’t really feel that Garfield’s Parker was the science genius I expected. His quirkiness, twitching, not making eye contact and other idiosyncrasies really turned me off from him. I think the “genius” Spider-Man would have turned off his cell phone’s ring tone when he ventures into the sewers to track down a giant lizard… One complaint I had voiced about Marvel’s Avengers was that Iron Man had been given too many jokes and one-liners and that didn’t really fit his character, as that was more of a Spider-Man trademark. Someone out there didn’t get the memo, because we didn’t get any of the witty Spider-banter we should have. In the comics, it is often Spider-Man’s tendency to make quips or jokes or bad puns that frequently has his villains driven to distraction (and defeat) by how annoying he is. We can see it as his “coping mechanism” in these amazingly stressful situations, but on the big screen this time we are sadly let down.
My favourite performance of the movie came from Denis Leary as Captain Stacy. Leary is an excellent actor, and really pulled what was left of this movie “out of the fire” for me. I was a little disappointed to not have J.K. Simmons reprise his role of J. Jonah Jameson this time out, but Leary did make up for that in a way, though hopefully when they do cast J.J.J. they get it right and keep Simmons. Additionally Stan Lee makes another brilliant cameo, as you knew he would, especially since he has admitted that Spidey is his favourite character.
I will say that the special effects were well done, and that I found the fights to be really how the kinetic action of the four colour medium should have been translated all along. It was clear that a lot of the scenes were shot specifically to take advantage of the 3D, and I’m sure a few of them would have been visually stunning, but really when will this 3D fad run it’s course? I saw the film in 2D, and am very glad that I did, because it certainly wasn’t worth “3 Dollars” more. I know that this film was a “reboot” but the tedious retelling and minor reworking of the character’s origin was very slow, and killed a lot of the pace of the movie for me. I think the majority of the audience knows Spider-Man’s origin, and really, when Incredible Hulk reworked and retold the Hulk’s origin; that reboot did it over the span of the opening credits.
One final complaint that I have; and it applies to all the Spider-Man movies actually; why does Spidey keep taking off his mask?!? In the fifty years of the character’s history, I think his mask may have only come off a handful of times. In the movies he keeps taking if off, which is very out of character. It is not only hinted at, but blatantly spelled out in this movie that Spider-Man will have enemies, and to hurt him, they will hurt the ones he loves. That’s a very central theme to the character. His guilt over the death of Uncle Ben, leads him to be super-vigilant about protecting those closest to him. Whenever his mask comes off, he covers his face with webbing or a paper bag or something. I guess I get it that Hollywood wants us to see that Andrew Garfield or Tobey Maguire are actually dressed up in the suit, and it’s not just some stuntman or CGI playing Spider-Man, and that the star’s salaries are justified; but really it is just a stuntman or CGI. I think the audience can get past that if the story is true to the character as it has been established for fifty years…Keep the mask on him. Please. Remember, V For Vendetta went the entire movie without ever showing us Hugo Weaving’s face.
“With great power, comes great responsibility” has been the mantra of Spider-Man since August of 1962, I only wish that now, 50 years later, the writers would remember that, and adopt it in their works as they craft the stories about one of my favourite characters.
Two quick things I forgot to mention last night when I did this, was that I did kind of appreciate that there were several scenes throughout the movie that looked like they were lifted directly from the original Ditko and Lee panels. I liked the classic look with no “snout”, and we even got a lab coat on him at one point….though I’m not sure how he got an “official” Oscorp lab coat that big…..and also I forogt to mention that the design of Spider-Man’s costume this time around, was a big disappointment over the design from the previous movies.