Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Amazing Spider-Man Review

The should have called it "Mediocre Spider-Man".

At the very least, Amazing Spider-Man helped me get rid of the horrible, scarring memory that Spider-Man 3 left on my psyche. Despite being better than the last film, this current iteration of Spider-Man suffers from a number of issues, not the least of which is the muddling origin story.

Yes, once again, Amazing Spider-Man tells the tale of how Peter Parker is bitten by a spider and becomes a wise-cracking superhero with the proportionate strength of a spider. And, yet, this origin leaves out key aspects of what defines Spider-Man. Gone is the lesson of "with great power, comes great responsibility". Gone is Spider-Man initially using his powers for financial gain. Gone is the spider bite being the result of a random accident that could have happened to anybody. Instead, we are given a Spider-Man with a personal vendetta who becomes a bully when he puts the mask on. The life lesson that Uncle Ben imparts to him is simply about standing up for what is right. And we have Peter stumbling onto his powers as a result of trespassing in a spider lab. While this sort of origin may work with some other super-hero, they change the essence of Spider-Man himself and do a great disservice to the character. Certainly, the origin had to be changed enough in order to distinquish itself from the Raimi films, but, I think that it would have been more effective to start the movie with Spider-Man already somewhat established and just do the origin in random flashbacks much like Batman Begins.

While Peter Parker does have great chemisty with Gwen Stacy in this film, both characters are blurred so much, they are nearly unrecognizable to fans of the comic book. Peter isn't much of a science nerd. He actually seems like a pretty cool, although somewhat Emo guy. Gwen, of all people, is the superior science student where, in the comic book, she was much less of an intellect and more of an artist. The movie ruins the classic dynamic between the two by having Peter reveal his identity to Gwen, thus destroying the arc where Gwen loves Peter yet hates Spider-Man for his role in her father's death.

By far the greatest character assasination done here is performed on Curt Conners. Amazing Spider-Man turns him into a one dimensional villan. The movie ignores his family and their struggle to cope with the monster he had become through his haste in testing the syrum on himself. No, instead we get a mustache twirling bad guy being manipulated by a shadowy figure. Conners develops a solution that can regenerate limbs/organs with the side-effect of turning him into a Lizard. So, being a scientist, his goal is to gas one of the largest cities in the world to turn everyone into lizard-monsters? It's quite the leap and I don't think the push from Rajit Ratha (horribly played by Irrfan Khan) really worked to make The Lizard's actions justifiable

For once, can we have a Spider-Man who doesn't constantly take his mask off? Can we, just once, have a Peter Parker who doesn't display his powers to crowds of people?

I don't want to give the impression that this review of Amazing Spider-Man is entirely negative. Quite the contrary, there are some great scenes. Spider-Man's rescue of the boy in the car is probably the best scene in any of the Spider-Man movies. The action sequences are amazing and the whole movie is beautifully shot and well paced. There would be an spectacular movie here if the powers that be hadn't had the desire to Twilight it up.

Although I did enjoy it, I wouldn't say I was blown away by it either. I wanted to like Amazing Spider-Man, and, I do, but I just don't like it as much as I had hoped I would.

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