Wednesday, July 4, 2012
The Amazing Spider-Man
Well, that was okay. It wasn't great. It wasn't amazing. It wasn't spectacular. But I enjoyed it. I've seen worse comic book movies. Hell, I've seen three worse Spider-Man movies. So there, I'll say it, I liked it better than the Sam Raimi flicks. I think just about everything the Raimi movies got wrong this one got right.
I remember seeing the first Raimi film, and I remember talking myself into thinking I liked it more than I did. But I knew Raimi had no interest in making a good adaptation or even a good movie the moment the Green Goblin said the words "we'll meet again, Spider-Man!" yes, that was the moment the Raimi films passed the point of no return. The moment it all went wrong. Gods, not even cartoons use dialogue that lame anymore, and haven't in a very long time before that thing came out. It just felt so scitzo, like Raimi was making a PG-13 movie for really little kids. Some would say "Spider-Man 2" was better, but I'm not one of them... it followed the same emotional beats and story beats as the first movie and I don't know who that villain was, but it was not the Dr. Octopus I know. And the less said about "Spider-Man 3" the better.
Let me get this out of the way, Andrew Garfield's Peter Parker and Emma Stone's Gwen Stacy had a lot of chemistry, much more chemistry than Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst. Garfield and Stone looked like they enjoyed being there, while Maguire and Dunst had that same look that George W. Bush had throughout his entire second term... that look that said "I can't want to get out of this job." And while I don't hate Tobey Maguire as an actor, I did hate him as Peter Parker. I thought he was horribly miscast. He wasn't the slightest bit funny or charismatic, and that face he made when he cries was the most unintentionally hilarious thing. We're supposed to feel bad when Uncle Ben dies, then Tobey cries and it's hilarious... this helped make "Spider-Man 3" an unintentional comedy.
I really don't like going here, this is not me trying to hit you over the head with why the Raimi films were bad, I'm trying to tell you all why this movie wasn't. I'm trying to highlight what this movie did right.
Andrew Garfield felt a lot more like the Peter Parker I knew growing up. He was a nerd, he was goofy, he was dweeby, but he was also funny, heroic, and had a real growing arc. Honestly, and I hate to be that guy, but give the guy a haircut and take away the damn skateboard and he'd have been perfect.
Emma Stone felt like Gwen Stacy, and not like Mary Jane Watson who happened to be blond and named Gwen Stacy. Gwen Stacy came to life and was on screen. She was the character who was nailed perfectly. Nothing was wrong or off about her. Unlike Kirsten Dunst's Mary Jane who felt like both MJ and Gwen were tossed into a blender when Raimi made his films. Now, as a character, I love Mary Jane Watson and I hope she turns up in a sequel.
This felt like one of the better love stories in a comic film. Specifically, I like how both characters did not behave like complete idiots. That moment at the end where Peter breaks up with Gwen and Gwen doesn't blame him but knows her dad well enough to figure that he made Peter promise to stay away was so refreshing. If this were the Raimi films, Dunst would have run away crying, miserably ignorant and showing no clear understanding of who any of the people in her life are.
I loved Rhys Ifans as Dr. Curt Connors. He really breathed a lot of humanity into him. I've heard some people say he was Dr. Octopus all over again. Well, boys and girls... Raimi's Doc Ock had a lot more in common with the Lizard than he did with the Dr. Octopus of the comics. So, they got Connors right. That being said, the CGI on the Lizard needed work. It wasn't amazing. And, once again, I hate to be that guy. But I didn't care for the design of the Lizard. He should have had a snout. Aw well, I can't complain too much, they did put him in a lab coat in a couple of scenes. But aside from that, that was the comic character
Captain George Stacy was the biggest departure. While I would have greatly preferred seeing the cop who was able to figure out who Spidey was through sheer detective work, and who became Spidey's ally on the force (this did happen, but only at the end) I won't complain because Denis Leary was just that fun to watch.
And I absolutely LOVED Flash Thompson in this movie. Sure he wasn't in it much, but when he was, that was the guy from the comics too as opposed to the complete non-entity of the Raimi flicks. He even had a little character arc throughout the film. They didn't need to do that, but I'm glad they did.
That is not say this movie didn't have it's problems. I get why they re-told the origin story. They wanted to tie it in with his parents, with Oscorp and with Dr. Connors becoming the Lizard. But I still didn't want to watch it again. And the changes made were... well... a blessing in disguise I guess. The changes made to the burglar story drove me nuts, but... well... at least it was shot in a way that they can't come along and say Sandman really did it. But still... well, damned if they did, damned if they didn't. I understand why the change with they changed the story, but it still drives me nuts. Spidey's origin is kind of sacred. I think this one got the spirit right if not the details, while Raimi got most of the details but not the spirit.
And I flat out loved that Oscorp was evil. We don't see Norman Osborn but we hear enough about him to know that this is a very bad guy, and thank god. Norman Osborn is not a good man gone bad, he is a bad man gone nuts. And based on what we've heard, we can see the seeds laid for why he will eventually become the Green Goblin. Cool. They didn't blow their wad with the main villain in the first movie.
Good, but not great. And the crane scene was horrible... and the voice mail left by Uncle Ben was so contrived as a final speech, like he knew he was going to die. So hokey.