|The Amazing Spider-man (B-)||1 out of 1 user found this review helpful.|
The Amazing Spider-man is an okay film, and probably would have been a great one if it weren’t for the clowns at Sony.
While all film distributors must be primarily driven to make money, Sony/Columbia’s extreme greed and lack of any artistic integrity is a step beyond anything the other companies do. They forced a Ghost Rider movie to go into production with only half the budget of its predecessor, they let Steven Soderberg leave Moneyball less than a week before it would start shooting because he wanted it to be historically accurate, and they forced MIB3 to film without a finished script because they were offered a tax incentive to film before the end of the year.
The Spider-man franchise is arguable Columbia’s most valuable film property, so naturally they have been complete tyrants with its film productions. They forced Spider-man 3 to go into production very fast, but at the last minute demanded the script to be completely changed in order to incorporate the Venom character so they could have a spin-off film. When the movie was released, it received significantly lower reviews than its predecessors. Sam Raimi--who had reinvented the super-hero genre with the blockbuster trilogy--returned for the fourth installment, but Columbia continued to demand rewrites and hurry production until he dropped out. Therefore, a reboot came out five years after the last movie (with only three years devoted to its production).
Still, it had an impressive crew. Avi Arad--who successfully brought the Spider-man, X-Men, and Avengers franchises to the big screen--hand-picked Marc Webb for the role of the director. He had only directed one previous movie, but that movie is (500) Days of Summer, which everyone agrees is fantastic. Webb is great with the Spider-man characters--setting the story in high school, he mixes angst, humor, and teen awkwardness together for something thrilling, charming, and entertaining (also, he has the perfect name for the subject matter). He also is better at getting great performances from all the actors he deals with. Andrew Garfield is made to look more cool and less geeky than Tobey Maguire’s Peter Parker/Spider-man (probably because fans like myself can't relate to someone nerdy and geeky), but he brings both a charm and a relate-ability to the role. Emma Stone plays Peter’s love interest Gwen Stacy; the dynamic between her and Garfield is delightful. Rhys Ifans as the villain, Sally Field as Aunt May, and Denis Leary as Gwen’s police chief father are all good choices; the real gem, though, is Martin Sheen as a loveable yet believable Uncle Ben (Peter’s caretaker).
Another interesting element is how the manner in which Spider-man webs through the city. It is less graceful than in the original, but more realistic. It is a great way to distance this movie from the original, and it looks fantastic (especially in 3D).
In an effort to distance itself from the Raimi trilogy, this story follows Peter’s quest to find out why when he was about eight years old his parents fled (leaving him with his aunt and uncle) and then promptly died in a bizarre plain crash. No one really cares about his parents, but it is a great excuse to show him get bitten by a spider, develop awesome super-powers, and battle crime. The first problem arrises from the fact that Se7en scribe James Vanderbilt's original screenplay has obviously been rewritten too many times. The second problem is that the story obviously featured drastic edits and changes--after it was shot. For proof, one can see the promotional material, which features loads of scenes that didn’t make it into the final movie but should have. Dave Faracci at Badass Digest writes a great article explaining it all: the effects of tampering way too late into the production process are pretty apparent. Despite the dark tone and interesting set-ups, there is no clear theme; several plot threads are left unresolved; and characters vanish from the story with no clear explanation.
The reasons for the changes have to do with time (a shorter movie can be shown on TV or in theaters more frequently) but also with a set-up for a sequel. I think the sequel will probably be pretty great, though any comic fan knows it will get FAR darker. However, this movie now seems like homework you do to understand what is going on in The Amazing Spider-man. Well thought-out, carefully detailed, and mildly entertaining homework; but wouldn’t you rather not do homework at all? Sam Raimi’s Spider-man was a set up for the excellent Spider-man 2, but it was entertaining and thoughtful on its own. The Amazing Spider-man is an incoherent mess.
That above line is very critical, which makes me stress that this movie isn’t bad, per say (just incoherent and a mess). It has cool visuals, good acting, great artistic style, and the semblances of great stories. And if you ignore the plot it’s action scenes are pretty cool. It just has been tinkered around with too much.
The Amazing Spider-Man Trailer
At long last, here's the official first trailer for Marc Webb's dark Spider-Man reboot.
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