Here Comes A Spider-man: Not So AmazingPosted: May 1, 2014
With Amazing Spider-man 2 coming out this week, I thought I might reflect back on the wall-crawler’s history in film and how this franchise as much as any other reflects the highs and lows of superhero blockbusters.
There’s a frustrating trend going around Hollywood these days (which is a very broad and obvious statement, I know). As an unfortunate consequence of the success of good movies like Batman Begins and Casino Royale, many studios are convinced that any franchise coming off a subpar film needs a fully revamped continuity to go with new talent. Sometimes this results in solid films that give the franchise a much-needed boost (see: Star Trek, the aforementioned movies), but at least as often we get a movie that doesn’t provide enough of a distinctive voice and leaves us wondering why we needed the reboot in the first place. Amazing Spider-man is definitively the latter, much to my chagrin.
Just as Spider-man 3 was an all-time disappointment, Amazing Spider-man was an all-time useless reboot. It’s particularly frustrating because the basic story of the Lizard and Gwen Stacy could’ve still been told as an indirect sequel to the Raimi trilogy, without the (less-effective) retelling of the origin. Where Raimi and Koepp kept the origin elements as streamlined and direct as possible, Marc Webb and company lay them out in a far more clunky and awkward manner. Furthermore, the whole “Parker family secrets” element feels completely unnecessary, and an overly convoluted effort to make the origin story feel different (instead it makes the whole universe so small and so coincidental that it saps the fun out of it all).
It doesn’t help that Webb doesn’t feel fully comfortable with the action sequences. The first confrontation with the Lizard on the bridge in particular feels poorly staged and lacks any real impact, and the other larger fight scenes feel anonymous and rote. It’s also odd to me that I don’t think there’s a single action beat that doesn’t directly relate to the main plot. While Raimi’s movies (at least, the first two) have moments of Spidey fighting off random crooks and thugs, every single moment of webslinging here either relates to Peter looking for Uncle Ben’s killer, or to fighting the Lizard (again, making the world feel very small).
The whole movie is an unfortunate misuse of a really talented cast… even if Andrew Garfield plays Spidey as a little too full of himself and the romance with Gwen Stacy feels like it’s dependent on his real-life chemistry with Emma Stone instead of any deep character work. On names alone I’d probably prefer this cast to the Raimi crew, but after seeing the movie it’s a much harder call, mostly because the material here is so off that I’m not sure if the things that bug me are because of acting choices or script.
Overall, Amazing Spider-man is a movie that could have been a solid soft-reboot Spider-man 4, if only everyone involved had realized how unnecessary a reboot really was. But even then, the convoluted layout and uninspired direction make me think that it would’ve been mediocre either way. But hey, maybe with the re-origin-ation out of the way, Webb and the others could craft a cohesive, straightforward Spidey adventure that doesn’t at all succumb to the usual bloat of blockbuster sequ- oh wait…