Zack & Nick's Culture Cast

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The Amazing Spider-Man!

Of all the summer movies, The Amazing Spider-Man was the one I was looking most forward to.  I have always been a fan of the Spider-Man film series, and I was growing more and more interested by this new take the more I learned about it.  With a strong cast (including Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Martin Sheen, Sally Field, and Dennis Leary), and an emerging director who has already proven himself with a unique style, the film had a lot of potential to be something great.  Ultimately, I found the film to be a mixed bag.

Let’s start with the tone.  I really feel this film took itself too seriously.  While that is not necessarily a bad thing for a superhero movie, I really feel that a Spider-Man movie needs to be light and fun.  Now, that is just my opinion.  Your mileage may vary.  I did not find this film to be very fun overall, and that was a bit of a disappointment for me.

I do not want to come off as being too harsh on the movie.  The narrative and execution was mostly well-done.  The film keeps your interest and the pacing is strong.  The filmmakers introduce this psychological and conspiracy element that is in many ways reminiscent of Ang Lee’s Hulk.  I do not think it worked as well as the filmmakers wanted it to, mainly because it is never resolved and somewhat forgotten about.  In fact, that is one problem I had with the film is that subplots are introduced, deemed important, and then completely dropped.  Because of that, it makes the film seem a bit unfocused at times.

Though the pacing was fine in this movie, there were times I was growing impatient.  Not surprisingly, the first half of the movie deals heavily with Spidey’s origin.  While it was interesting with what they were doing, the beats were very similar to what was previously done in 2002’s Spider-Man (which I do not hold against this movie), and it was spread out over a longer period of movie time.  It started to get to the point where said to myself “Lets speed this along; I want to see Spider-Man already.”

The other major problem I had with the film was our central character: Peter Parker/Spider-Man.  Andrew Garfield brings a solid interpretation and makes the character his own.  However, Peter suffers from two problems.  1) He is difficult to relate too.  Given the back story this film supplies for him, he loses the “everyman” quality that generally has defined Spider-Man since the 1960s.  2) More importantly, he is not very likable.  It is not Garfield’s fault; I blame the writing.  Several times in the movie, Peter does or says something that makes him come off like a jerk.  I know one of Spidey’s traits is that he runs his mouth in a good-humor.  Here, there are times I wanted to slap him for being an outright a-hole.  One line he says in particular comes to mind that centers around a “promise”.  Without spoiling anything, the line is in somewhat bad taste considering the context.

On a more positive note, I found the action sequences to be spectacular.  I was not sure how director Marc Webb ((500) Days of Summer) would handle this element of the movie.  When an independent filmmaker steps into an action blockbuster, it can be really hit or miss.  Fortunately, the action scenes are crisp, clean, and exciting (and also feature quite possibly the best Stan Lee cameo yet).  Some of the CGI around the Lizard (Rhys Ifans) is a bit dodgy at times, but I did not find it that distracting.

I had the pleasure of seeing this movie in 3D, and though I am not a lover (nor hater for that matter) of 3D, it was implemented extremely well here (though, I wish that the movie had more swinging sequences).  I would recommend seeing the film in 3D if you want to spend the extra money.

I feel that there is a lot that can be discussed about The Amazing Spider-Man from how it works as its own film to how it compares to Sam Raimi’s previous series.  The above is just a few quick thoughts I have about the movie.  I want to make it clear that I do not think this was a bad movie.  It seems that audiences are enjoying it, and there is a lot to enjoy here.  While I can see this movie growing on me over time, I am not sure if The Amazing Spider-Man was the Spider-Man movie I was looking for.

~N

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15 responses to “The Amazing Spider-Man!

  1. Ben July 9, 2012 at 4:55 pm

    I completely disagree. I think this is the best and most accurate version of Spiderman so far. He acts like any kid would act when he gets “superpowers” and this version of Spiderman is the closest to the comics. I think Garfield is a great Peter Parker and gets the character much more than Maguire ever did. The action is fantastic and again, much more Spiderman than Raimi’s ever was. I actually thought this was the best superhero origin film we’ve had yet.

    • Nick! July 9, 2012 at 6:34 pm

      While you may be right concerning the accuracy to the comics (I never really got into the comics, so I don’t really know), I was looking at the film simply as its own thing and not how it related to the comics nor how it compared to the Raimi films. As I mentioned above, I didn’t think it was a bad movie, but I just didn’t find it to be the Spider-Man movie I was looking for. I think a lot of that had to do with the tone of the movie. It tries to be overly serious, but then has these B-Movie elements, and the two don’t quite work well together.

      As for it being the best origin film, eh, I don’t know about that. It still suffers from two-movies-in-one syndrome that almost all origin movies have. You get Peter getting his powers and his home angst. Then the moment he puts on the suit, we switch over to a different movie and the villain’s plot kicks in. While it does a better job of integrating the two than 2002’s “Spider-Man” did, it is still a very noticeable switch. On the origin aspect alone, I’d argue that the strongest ones I have seen have been either “Batman Begins” (it still suffers from two-movie syndrome, but it is much more streamlined) or “Thor” (mostly because it doesn’t deal with him getting and exploring new powers – it’s just a story about the guy).

      • CultureCast-Z July 10, 2012 at 11:35 am

        Nick- Great thought there on Thor. I hadn’t considered that, but I think you’re on to something there.

        I’m heading to the IMAX screen to catch Spidey this weekend. I’m looking forward to it. I’ll post my thoughts early next weekend.

      • Ben July 10, 2012 at 3:25 pm

        Batman Begins is one of the better origin films and would probably be on par with Amazing Spiderman but I just think I was more impressed with this film. I found myself much more involved in what was going on and more impressed with the actual “superhero” moments compared to Begins.

        I would also argue that Thor isn’t an origin film because, like you mentioned, it could be any story about the character. It isn’t about him gaining his powers but more about him finding himself and though that shares similar themes, it does mean it can “cheat” and get away with not having to explain his abilities and have him “discover” his power, which usually swamps other superhero origin films.

        • Nick! July 10, 2012 at 6:31 pm

          I’d argue that Thor is an origin film in the sense that he changes into the superhero he is known to be in the comics throughout the movie. Like most things in life, your mileage may vary.

        • CultureCast-Z July 11, 2012 at 5:04 pm

          Thor is most definitely considered an origin film, especially in lieu of him being an Avenger. You can’t just throw Thor all willy nilly into this year’s The Avengers movies without having a Thor movie first.

          • Ben July 12, 2012 at 3:27 pm

            Its an introduction to Thor more than an origin though.

          • Nick! July 12, 2012 at 9:48 pm

            Disagree; all origin films are introductions to their respective characters. It is an origin it shows how be becomes a superhero. It is his beginning. Just because he didn’t gain any special powers doesn’t negate the fact that it isn’t an origin. Scratch that. He does gain a new ability: humility.

            James Bond doesn’t really develop anything new in “Casino Royale”, yet it is constantly referred by fans, critics, and the media as Bond’s origin film.

          • Ben July 17, 2012 at 3:29 pm

            I’ve never heard Casino Royale referred to as Bond’s origin film. By that logic, Dr. No would also count as Bond’s origin film and I certainly wouldn’t class that in the same catagory.

          • CultureCast-Z July 13, 2012 at 9:52 am

            @Ben

            That’s an awfully nit-picky line of thinking. I’m getting dangerously close to labeling you as a fanboy troll.

          • Nick! July 17, 2012 at 3:59 pm

            @ Ben When Casino Royale was coming out, it was often referred to as “Bond Begins” or “See How James Becomes Bond” in interviews with the producers. Also, if you look at the film, one can argue that Bond goes from being a reckless raw agent to the sometimes cynical, get-the-job done kind of guy Bond is typically known for (granted, they then needlessly streteched this arc into QoS, but that wasn’t the intention when CR was produced). Dr. No, on the other hand, Bond is already established doing his thing and doesn’t delve into “how did Bond get like this?” territory. I guess that would fall into your “introduction to the character” category.

            Thor still falls into being an “origin” film. The nature of the origin, however, is different. It shows how he goes from being this reckless, arrogant d-bag into selfless superhero. The movie doesn’t start with superhero Thor already established.

            A good example of a superhero movie where the hero is already in action is “Superman Returns” (which, despite taking cues from the earlier movies, really is its own thing).

          • CultureCast-Z July 17, 2012 at 6:05 pm

            @Ben

            Casino Royale is by far Bond’s origin film. It was also created as a reboot to the film series as a whole.

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