The Amazing Spider-Man

July 6, 2012

The short review:  As long as Spidey was in the suit, it was fine.  Too bad 80% of the movie was Peter Parker, who I did not like.  I swear, all the scenes with Peter in them felt twice as long as they actually were.

*minor spoilers*

I’m afraid I have to be a curmudgeon about this one.  It was too long.  The first half draaaaaaagggggggeeed.  Also, it was very Roland Emmerichy.  Roland Emmerich, the guy who directed things like Independence Day, The Patriot, and Anonymous.  (The movie was, in fact, directed by Marc Webb.  It only felt like it was directed by Emmerich.)  This means the movie was overwrought, full of bombast and self-importance, the plot and emotional arc were very ticky-box — there was a checklist of Things that Had to Happen, and they did.  Eventually.  Oh, and lots of slapstick.  I hate slapstick.  I think a serious superhero movie should get one pratfall — one “Hulk punches Thor” moment, as my friend called it.  More than that, it’s just yucking it up, and that’s not what I want in a superhero movie.

Most of the action and Spidey scenes were good.  Gwen Stacy narrowly avoided being a Manic Nerdy Dream Girl by actually saving the damn day.  Martin Sheen and Sally Field as Uncle Ben and Aunt May were great.  But boy, was this a long-ass movie.

Writing Workshop 201:

One of the reasons the movie felt long is that it hung lanterns on — spent time explaining — things that didn’t need to be explained, but glossed over things that did.  There’s one scene that drove me absolutely bonkers:  Peter is off on his first bad-guy bashing expedition.  He doesn’t have the costume yet, and he’s being kind of young and stupid, and that’s fine.  He gets in over his head, runs away, and falls through the roof into a gym and boxing ring in what looks like an old lucha libre arena, at the exact same time one of the bad guys is yelling, “I’ve seen your face, I know what you look like!”  Peter looks at the wall, sees a giant poster of a luchador mask.  The scene might as well have animated a light bulb blinking on over his head.

This is a terrible scene.  This is two minutes of film that doesn’t need to be there.  It’s so on the nose, so artificially timed, and so unnecessary, it hurt my teeth.  Maybe the bad guy will yell, “I’ve seen your face!”  But at the exact same moment that Peter just happens to fall into a luchador ring?  Plus, the audience doesn’t need an entire scene explaining why Peter Parker decides to wear a mask.  Superheroes wear masks.  The audience will buy that without explanation.  Or maybe, you know, he just figures it out.

This kind of scene doesn’t necessarily ruin a movie.  It’s forgivable.  I imagine a lot of people even thought it was cute.  But it very definitely keeps a movie like this from being great.  Especially when the movie fails to explain things that are actually important for the plot.  “Gwen, go to the lab and formulate the antidote!” Peter yells, and I think, huh?  Did we know about the antidote?  Why is there an antidote for a genetic treatment that’s supposed to save people?  Would that be like having an antidote for, I dunno, coronary bypass?  Did I miss something?  Where the hell did that come from?  Yeah, I think the movie spent way too much time on the first half and not enough on the second.

So, is Trans-Species Genetics Possible?

The movie keeps asking this question.  The answer is yes.  In fact, scientists have been making jellyfish monkeys for about twelve years now.  GLOWING MONKEYS!  I am certain they are superheroes among their kind.


15 Responses to “The Amazing Spider-Man”

  1. Estelle Says:

    I think you are too kind to this movie. There were a few good parts but not many. The Spidey action was bad CGI, not at all convincing. I like cartoons but damn it all does every single movie have to be a cartoon these days? The writing was terrible. It was every bad thing you can do in a movie all rolled into one, slamhammered into the Spider Man story just enough that you could sort of recognize elements of it. Peter Parker wasn’t a nerd he was a dick, his moments that should have been pathos were just moments of wooden grinning dickheadery, whoever directed that actor to play it as if he was the bastard love child of Keanu Reeves and Kevin Costner should be forced to watch real movies till he writes an apology and sends it out with a $5 bill to every home in america, and whoever edited that film should be forced to WATCH THAT FILM until they can tell you what they did wrong. Ugh. What a catastrophe.

  2. WanabePBWriter Says:

    Not having seen the movie yet, it sounds like it tried to be both Christian Bail Batman and Toby McGuire Spiderman at the same time.

  3. Max Says:

    As Yaz pointed out… Spider DNA in a goat:

    The re-worked pseudoscientific BS wouldn’t be a problem if it weren’t the backbone of the whole film.

    But I don’t expect the whole of America to know what was wrong with the “Science” – for most of us, as you say… the film dragged on and on and on.

  4. Carrie V. Says:

    I think you are both definitely on to something.

    But it still wasn’t as bad as Prometheus…

  5. Carrie V. Says:

    BTW, Max, I love real science and wish more movies would include some.

  6. In fact, scientists have been making jellyfish monkeys for about twelve years now. GLOWING MONKEYS! I am certain they are superheroes among their kind.

    “God-Schmod! I want my monkey man!”

    All I’ve ever wanted was bioluminescent decorative plants for my front garden. I figured they’d be beautiful and eliminate the need for those little lights we need to have outside. But, nooo…

  7. Fortunately, I don’t know enough about science to have been bothered by it. The Spidey acting, though, as well as the nauseating swinging on the webvine stuff…. urk. And Peter wasn’t cute enough to spend that much time unmasked. IMHO….

  8. Jeannie Says:

    Hey, thanks for saving me a couple hours! I was hesitant at best.

  9. sef Says:

    Somewhat surprisingly, I liked it more than you did! I liked this Peter Parker — he was shy, clumsy, but obviously intelligent. (Failures: not showing him being intelligent enough, having him miraculously solve something [did he get it from his father? that wasn’t clear], and making it look like he stole his webbing from Oscorp.)

    The 3d POV shots were fine once, but not so fine later. I would have preferred more emotional connection between Peter’s actions, and Uncle Ben’s fate; I would have, I think, preferred something more than an accident during a struggle.

    I liked that he got his inspiration for the mask from wrestling. That tied into the original story, without going into a pro-wrestling subplot.

    And I also really liked Emma Stone in this. Much better Gwen Stacy than in the earlier movies.

    And, yes. So much better than Prometheus. Not that the bar is high there.

  10. Doruk Says:

    Bah, he decides to wear a mask, because he FIGHTS at the ring for a large prize money, and doesn’t want to be recognized. Doesn’t EVERYONE know this??? 😛

    As far as science goes, having majored in molecular biology and genetics, I quietly tune out whenever the words ‘DNA’ and ‘gene’ pop up in a movie.

  11. WanabePBWriter Says:

    In regard to Prometheus, I have been thinking (not that this excuses how badly things were done) all the unused shotguns are meant to be used in the second film. When we will land on LV426? I may be giving them too much credit, but they can always change writers.

  12. To me, no Spider-Man movie will ever approach the sheer level of brilliance attained by Spider-Man 2.

  13. ArcLight Says:

    I’m a huge Spider-Man fan so it’s pretty much set in my DNA to enjoy the movie.

    That said, yeah…I see your point about a lot of it. Definitely too long and I don’t care if it’s a reboot or not – WE DON’T NEED TO SPEND AN HOUR ON THE FRICKIN’ ORIGIN AGAIN! At least the INCREDIBLE HULK movie was nice enough to redo the origin during the beginning credits and leave it at that. Way too much time blown before he gets into the (badly redesigned) costume.

    But at least this Spidey was a little bit of a smart-ass. No live-action version has really ever nailed it but this one made more of an effort than any others.

  14. Adam. Says:

    Would the slapstick have fit better if Peter Parker had been played by Rowan Atkinson?

    Which would obviously have been the best thing since the classic Fatty Arbuckle version of Spiderman back in 1918.

  15. Janet Says:

    LOL it’s true, you can put jellyfish GFP into lots of critters. in our lab we play with fruit flies with glowing neurons every day!

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