December 10, 2012

Movie Monday: The Amazing Spider-Man vs. Spider-Man

Amazing Spider-Man This year brought about a reboot of the Spider-Man cinematic universe.  The Amazing Spider-Man met with surprisingly good reviews, enough to convince me to see it. But I'm not totally in love with it.

First, let's talk Tobey Maguire versus Andrew Garfield.  Everyone told me Garfield is so much more convincing as nerdy Peter Parker . . . but I don't see it.  The first time we see Garfield's Peter in school, he's got perfectly puffed hair, contacts, a skateboard, and a hoodie.  He stands tall.  He looks cool.  The first time we see Maguire's Peter, he's chasing after a bus and being laughed at because his clothes and glasses may not totally hide that Maguire is a movie star, but he's at least acting lame.

Spider-man I'll give Garfield this: he got to dish out more of Peter's signature terrible humor.  But his delivery need work - the timing of the jokes felt rushed to me.  Meanwhile, Maguire trying to figure out how his webbing works is still a classic bit of physical comedy.

The girls are pretty even.  Emma Stone is perfect for Gwen Stacy; Kirsten Dunst is a perfect Mary Jane Watson.  But the thin ponytail and thick bangs that are Stacy's expected look are terrible for Stone.  She looked best in the scenes where they let her hair be down and wavy - they should've just let her look nice instead of trying to conform to strongly to the comics look.

And look, I love Sally Field and Michael Douglas.  But they were terrible as Aunt May and Uncle Ben.  Douglas's Ben was a scold and Field's May was a doormat.  And look, Aunt May might be old, but that woman is firm.  She's one of the best parents in any comic book universe, not a woman with no control over her household.

I'm not even going to bring up direction.  Sam Raimi crushes Marc Webb.  Webb's scenes of Peter slinging through the city look like everything that's been done before.  Raimi's felt fun.

As for mythology choices, I understand that The Amazing Spider-Man wanted to be different from Spider-Man.   People have complained for years about Peter's web-shooters being organic, so making them once more his invention could've been a good move.  But the organic webbing simplified the story in Spider-Man.  The large order of Oscorp webbing had to look suspicious.  And it just felt wrong without Uncle Ben saying, "With great power comes great responsibility."  Maybe they could've had him say the original "With great power there must also come -- great responsibility!" instead of dancing around it?

Plot-wise, I liked that Peter was a little more free with his secret identity.  Keeping it super secret damaged his relationships in the original movie trilogy.  But there has to be a happy medium - I felt like almost every character knew who Spider-Man really was by the end of the film.  Saving Norman Osborn for a later movie was probably a good move - it helps differentiate the movies and allows for a bigger, more recognizable bad guy to come along in a later entry in the series.  But Rhys Ifans, who I usually find hilarious, wasn't the best fit for the villain.  Perhaps no one would be because the guy is just that grating.  Osborn at least has some charisma, and Willem Defoe did an amazing job of playing two personalities.  (And props again to Raimi, for the framing in the scenes where Osborn talks to himself as the Green Goblin.)

Others might disagree with my opinion, but here it is.  The Amazing Spider-Man was a decent spectacle and hit the standard comic film beats that I love.  However, Spider-Man is a classic of the genre, and its successor didn't come close to touching its highs.


  1. Ugh, Liviania, you've affirmed every reason I wasn't interested in seeing this from the beginning.

    I mean... I get movie remakes.
    I do.

    In fact, I love them.

    But... did we really need this one? And less than ten years after what really was a good super hero flick (which is something kind of rare, outside of Batman. Even Superman's a little tired)?

    The thing is... even wih changes to the mythology, I don't think it'd be possible to create a new origin story less than ten years on and not have it feel weirdly familiar. The technology isn't much better. There's not that much of a change to the story, the history, the anything.

    And, well, this: "Sam Raimi crushes Marc Webb."


    This in itself is one of my major problems with the film. The lack of Raimi. It... I don't know, I almost feel like it's disrespectful to a truly fabulous action director to remake a film he made so solidly his own this soon. And just... ugh. POINTLESS.

    I liked Spiderman a lot, even if I think Tobey Maguire is... Toby Maguire. I'm fairly certain I would have liked this if it had have come beforehand. I like Andrew Garfield a lot. He was brilliant in Don't Let Me Go, and he was good in the Social Network. I liked him in Parnassus, and he was in Doctor Who for crying out loud!

    It's just that... this entire film feels superfluous.


    IN ANY CASE: wonderful, wonderful, wonderful review ♥

    1. It seemed superfluous to me, but I wanted to give it a chance anyway. Spider-Man is one of the funnest superheroes, and there are certainly plenty of stories to tell about him. But retelling his origin is a bit much, especially when there are tons of superhero origin stories out there and an incredible one for Spider-Man. (Maybe if they'd done Miles Morales instead of Peter Parker?)

      It didn't feel so much weirdly familiar as weirdly obvious that they were trying to avoid anything familiar . . . but that meant cutting out some touchstones of the mythos.

      And yes, it is disrespectful to Raimi. He whuffed the ending of his trilogy, but so did Nolan, and he had a lot more reason why it wasn't perfect. (Three villains why?)

      I do like Andrew Garfield. But maybe it's his celebrity shining through for me - I see him as too cool for Peter. Tobey Maguire did play Peter a bit too much as soft-spoken awkward, and looks buffer, but he was more believable to me as an outsider.

      I just . . . rebooting Spider-Man was clearly done for money and money alone.

    2. TOTALLY. And... it's so weird. I WANTED to be excited about it, yet... it just never came :/

      "And yes, it is disrespectful to Raimi. He whuffed the ending of his trilogy, but so did Nolan, and he had a lot more reason why it wasn't perfect."

      Hells YES, and I'll pay that, re: Raimi. AND THANK YOU, re: Nolan. Rises was so dissapointing. They had something amazing there, and I wish they'd not turned it into a cash cow, or tried to force an awkward ending like that.

      The thing is, I'm not a massive Maguire fan. But... I liked him as PP. And... yeah, it's just so strange. I expected to be so excited about this film, but I haven't been able to muster any enthusiasm for anything besides complaining about it :P

      And... WAIT. I JUST READ YOUR ABOUT ME. YOU'RE A QC FAN? PINTSIZE! "I'm eating cakemix!" ♥♥♥

    3. I was sort of excited about it after several good reviews (plus I adore Emma Stone), but the actual execution left me unawed. (Plus I rewatched the original immediately after to compare, which was perhaps unkind.)

      Rises, I liked okay when I saw it in theaters, but the more I think about it the more I'm dissatisfied. Mostly, I think that Nolan didn't get Batman. Or at least he has a radically different interpretation of Batman than I do. And the pacing was terrible. (Nolan is not the best at pacing, but there are usually enough awesome and mind-blowing set pieces to disguise the lulls.)

      Is anyone a massive Maguire fan? (I did love him in Wonder Boys, if you've ever seen that.) But I think he did a good job at creating a believable live-action Peter Parker.

      I LOVE QC! How awesome was learning about how Marten and Pintsize ended up together? (ROBOT WHALE.)

    4. Oh goodness, RIGHT? And, I mean, I think Andrew Garfield is fab. I have a girl crush on Emma Stone. IT'S FREAKING SPIDERMAN FOR CRYING OUT LOUD.

      But 'meh' is the best I can muster.

      "Rises, I liked okay when I saw it in theaters, but the more I think about it the more I'm dissatisfied."

      THIS. EXACTLY THIS. I was like 'OK. That was OK.' when I walked out. But... it was so forgettable. I could barely remember the ending 2 days later and... O__o

      I... I really did like the first two new Batman films. I liked the darker interpretation which does seem to reflect the feel of the Dark Horse/Dark Knight comics, I think? And don't get me wrong. I think the travesty that was the (OK, OK, I admit stupidly entertaining) Schumacher
      Batmans didn't really get it, either, but... *sigh* I don't know? I never read the comics or the graphic novels. I was only passably interesting in the cartoons. I loved the Burton films. Nicholsan as The Joker really is, in my opinion, as brilliant as Ledger, but in a very different way.... I guess, with some as loved as Batman, as Spiderman, as anything with the level of cult followings comics do, it's going to be hard to get it right, but that aside, I just didn't think Rises was a great film.

      OMG. On that note, I'd have an aneurysm if someone tried to make a Doctor Who movie (the Paul McGann telemovie *shudders*) and I went into blind, spitting, swearing rage after the end of the 'new' Star Trek film.

      And... I'm getting massively sidetrack.
      I AM SORRY. I get so excited when I get the opportunity to talk film with people ♥♥♥

      I have a horrible confession to make: I am so, SO far behind on QC. The last I read was on the space station where they were asking for Mer's graphic novels.

      I need epic catch-up. I have read literally EVERY comic prior to that, too.

    5. Oh, I definitely liked the first two, TDK moreso than BB.

      I've only read a few of the trades, mostly the most famous stuff. I also love the Burton films, and I grew up on the B:TAS cartoon. I mean, no one has the definitive idea of Batman, but he's just in SO MUCH that it's hard not to have a personal conception of the dude.

      And I totally agree with you on Nicholson - he was a brilliant Joker, just a different Joker - which is just fine because the Joker is awesome because he has no real origin or anything.

      But basically, I think I could forgive Rises its failing if it spoke to me as a fan, but . . . no. I do love Anne Hathaway's performance! I wish she could've been Catwoman in one of the other films so I could enjoy her being awesome without having to sit through Rises again. (Seriously, why does everyone just go along with whatever it was Bane was trying to do in Gotham? Wasn't part of the climax of TDK the people of Gotham rising above what the Joker thought them to be?) (I can't remember a thing about Bane really. Philosophy blah blah something.)

      I'd be happy about a Doctor Who movie under certain conditions. (Like, not a Hollywood production.) See, I liked the Trek film, but I'm not all that attached to TOS.

      I love talking film too, so it's fine! Yeah, I'm not a film student, I just like movies. It's like loving books to me. It's still about story, and the presentation of that story, just a totally different medium.

      Eh, that's not so far behind. I've fallen farther behind on webcomics before. Plus, archive binging is fun. Sometimes things work much better when you can read the whole arc at once as opposed to day-by-day.

    6. Oh, Anne Hathaway could have been brilliant. And I liked her and Batman's give and take. I didn't love the idea of Batman as... so... maybe not falliable, but frail, and I really felt he way, here. Even though I know that was a storyline take from the Dark Horse GN's.

      I think my problem with a DW movie is that... some of it would have to restablish mythology. Possibly re-work it for movie form. And I don't want that. I think it's perfect as it is. Unless it was a movie like Serenity was to Firefly, I don't think I could possibly pleased. I mean... maybe. If David Tennant AND Russell T. Davies were on board. And... I don't know. Steven Moffat is bothering me for some reason, despite really enjoying Matt Smith :P

      "Plus, archive binging is fun."

      YES! I'm actually looking forward to my catch-up :D
      I think that the spacestation ARC wasn't holding my attention where I was at, and then I hate coming back to it part way through ;D

    7. Well, it was a pretty liberal take on several graphic novel storylines. Like, the back breaking is a big part of the Bane storyline, but some of the other frailities . . . not so much.

      Maybe if they made a DW movie that figured people had seen the tv show? (I actually saw Serenity before Firefly; long story. But seeing Firefly after was weird because it didn't focus on the stories I thought it would based on the movie.)

    8. Yeah, that was the vibe I got. And I think they keep doing Bane injustices. He's a great villain in his own right, and they keep making him a henchman to some higher power.

      Oh, Firefly! I actually saw Serenity first, also. I expected more of a focus on River and the Reavers, I think? But, I think we would have got more of that if the show had have been allowed to live.

      And OK, OK, maybe you're right, re: DW. I just... how could they come up with a story big enough for a movie? I mean, they've nearly destroyed the whole earth HOW MANY TIMES? The Daleks ave invaded, pulled the planet out of alignment, Cybermen have enslaved the entire how many times? I'm... OK, if I'm honest, Im scared :P

    9. Yeah, Bane can be awesome as the head bad guy. I liked his first appearance in the Young Justice cartoon, for instance.

      Yeah, I expected more River and the Reavers. I also thought movie-only characters like Mr. Universe would show up.

      Well, I mean, the old episodes were all long serials. Easily movie length. And there were the three specials that ended Ten's run that were basically movies. I think a Master story would be good for a movie, because dude vs. his opposite is a pretty easy story to understand. Actually, I'd love a series of movies with, like, young Doctor and Master having awesome adventures that eventually ended in HORRIBLE TRAGEDY due to ideological differences.

    10. That could be AWESOME, but I don't trust them not to alter some detail of the mythology or introduce something lame like they tried to in the McGann tele-movie, what with the Doctor being half-human. And I hate the idea of the Doctor having incarnations re-Bill Harntnell. I don't why, but it offends me deeply in some dark, rabid-fanish way.

      BUT. I loved what RTD was hinting at with this history with the Doctor and the Master. There really could be something awesome to that.

      And you are RIGHT about the serials, but I think that's what I mean -- they've DONE IT ALREADY *grumbles*

      OMG, the original serials, though. I LOVE. Especially the Douglas Adams Baker-era ones, and I though the Trial of the Timelord arc ws seriously underrated.

      BUT. Have you noticed that there's maybe 30 minutes of actual plot in the 2 hour arcs? Like, City of Death, as much as I love it is, like, half shots of Paris and very very VERY SLOWLY MORPHING CHICKENS :P

      I'm... really getting my nerd on here. Sorry :P

      I TOTALLY expected more Reavers. I thought they were going to be a huge deal. And Mr Universe? RIGHT? WHAT WAS WITH THAT?

    11. Excellent point - the television eps have been giving us everything we need, so why would a movie be necessary?

      And yes, ideally we could magically have a younger Bill Harntnell. He is the first Doctor!

      Getting your nerd on is always okay here. Especially if it involves slowly morphing chickens.

      On to Firefly . . . yeah, at least the Reavers were in the series, if not all that important. But Mr. Universe wasn't there at all! He wasn't a cameo of a beloved character! Meanwhile, Book was a major character who lived on the ship. (The first time I saw the movie, when he died, I was like, "Who? Oh yeah, that dude who was in that one scene.")

  2. Despite many cinema classes, I still can't tell you what aspects I like about certain directors, etc. Therefore, to say, I really loved the new Spider-Man, probably because I thought the characters were well done and I'm a big character person. I also liked the main actors so that helps. LOL

    Sorry this one didn't work for you!!

    1. I've never had a cinema class, but there are definitely some directors I love. I think picking up directorial flourishes is hard to see at first, but then hard to unsee once you start to get the knack. Try watching several movies by one director in a row and thinking about what they had in common.

      But why was Peter so awful to poor Aunt May? The woman loses her husband, and her foster son starts becoming distant and thuggish and she's just left out of the loop and in pain. Bringing eggs home at the end was not enough catharsis!

      And I didn't dislike the movie, I just thought it was superfluous. It didn't do anything so well to justify redoing the Spider-Man origin so soon.

    2. "'ve never had a cinema class."

      Ahaha! This is actually why I was reading your 'About' page. I thought you might be a film student XD


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