Saturday, July 07, 2012

JAFFA JURY: The Amazing Spider-Man Movie Review (Spoilers)

"There's rumor of a new species in New York. It can be aggressive, if threatened... "

Revamping an origin is Russian Roulette for any creative team. If that origin belongs to a global icon like Spider-Man, you automatically load five out of six gun chambers with bullets. Preceded by awesome trailers, Director Marc Webb's The Amazing Spider-Man looked to have Lady Luck on its side as it began an all-new spider-movie trilogy, only for the trigger to be pulled and all hopes placed shot down in flames.

Discovering scientific codes left by his deceased parents, hidden in his adoptive Aunt and Uncle's basement, young Peter Parker tries to fill in the mystery surrounding their deaths. As his search sees him bitten by a radioactive spider and given matching powers, so too does it lead to the mixing of DNA for leading genetic scientist Dr Curt Connors. 

But where Curt's intentions were to fuse reptilian DNA in order to save human lives, he soon finds his formula transforming him into The Lizard. A monster obsessed with destroying all human life and replacing it with kindred of his own.

Nothing wrong with that. Quite true to the source material when watered down that far and boosted by a variety of solid performances across the board. The catch? The Amazing Spider-Man not only dumps all promising themes halfway (to be picked up in a sequel no doubt) while it falls back to a typical beat 'em up plot, it misses the heart of the two super-powered arch-rivals in the first place. Sure Andrew Garfield plays an utterly awesome underdog, skateboarding, brooding, girl-stalking, science student, but it's a horrible Peter Parker. 

While the flip from the juicy and unique trek into the disappearance of Pete's parents can be blamed on the fact their comic motives involve an organisation currently starring in another studio's hit film franchise, Peter Parker's abandonment of his classic 'downtrodden optimist' spirit, almost makes the film feel like Twilight in a spider-suit.

Peter as a character has too much heart, and the death of his Uncle Ben and the effect it has on his Aunt May is something he not only shoulders completely, it shapes his entire outlook going forward. Here, his out of character actions not only replace the fabled boxing match leading up to the death in the family, but after said event occurs, the burden is rarely referenced, as Pete focuses on revenge, getting the girl and the scientific theories running through his self-centred mindset.

Acting aces, Martin Sheen and Sally Field play the true-to-form roles of Uncle Ben and Aunt May effortlessly. Despite being an emotional wreck Pete leaves abandoned for the majority of the film, Sally's caring wise matriarch of the family soaks up every scene she is in. Staring at the camera with puppy like eyes, you feel she has just realised this isn't the super-hero film fellow actor Morgan Freeman is having such a blast in and now desperately seeks a way out.

While she doesn't manage to find an escape route like Sheen does, father of Pete's love interest/ obsession Gwen Stacey, Captain Stacey, actually addresses Pete's self-serving alter-ego agenda in continuity. Thinking the film is getting back on it's feet, it is only moments after another out of character moment happens, just before the tween-romantics first kiss.

As for the villain of the piece, The Lizard was always going to be a hard sell. Rhys Ifans voice does a great job at making you realise there is a smart man inside the monster, yet this character too lacks his heart; his son, who helps give his human mind a reason to fight, when the reptilian side tries to take over.  

Without that moral centre to identify with, the mental arguments Connor has make no sense, leaving the Lizard's sole benefit creating some sweet CGI fight scenes with the Spidey and a back-drop to the funniest Stan Lee cameo of all.

Stunning 3D spider-swing sessions aside, the ending is chessier then your favourite pizza (synchronised cranes and all) and even with the after credits scene giving rise at rumour of the Sinister Six being at the heart of this trilogy, only half as filling. IMDB state Ann Hathaway was meant to join this cast in the role of Felicia Hardy (The Black Cat), before taking the role of Catwoman in The Dark Knight Rises. Now something tells me due to that decision, the only person smiling after seeing this film is her.


  1. Like I was saying over @ Omega's site, thanks for further justifying why I have absolutely no interest in seeing this movie.

    If it's just a "Twilight" version of Spider-Man, which based off your review, it probably is, then maybe, maybe when it comes out on DVD I'll rent it for the hell of it. Otherwise, I'm fucking waiting for The Dark Knight Rises.

    Fucking tweens! Ever since Twilight's come out, Hollywood seems to have a hard-on for spitting out more and more of that same, like-minded crap. Thank God, from what I hear anyways, that Avengers didn't fall into that same trap. I trust Nolan, so I know Batman wouldn't be anything remotely like that, but still.....

    The only thing good I have to say about the Spider-Man movie, is the awesome FX/make-up job on The Lizard, and yes, how hot Emma Stone is as a blonde:)

  2. And yes, Anne Hateway's probably laughing all the way to the bank, after skipping that abortion of a movie.

  3. just saw it and i gotta say i liked it for the most part. the thing is i just went into the theater with out any baggage about what i thought a Spiderman reboot should be and just watched it and took it as a movie at face value. i was never super passionate about a Spidey reboot in the first place so i never got caught up in all the hype. ironically one thing that stands out to me that i didn't care for was how they made the Lizard look. i liked his face but over all he looked too CG. he wasn't very believable looking especially during the fight scenes. i think this version of Spiderman had a very subjective quality to it so i think it's just one of those things where you either like it or not. i wouldn't presume to argue with anyone who didn't care for it. by far the worst superhero movie this year was ghost rider. if you could consider it a superhero movie john carter would be one of the worst of all time. so onward to The Dark Knight, Total Recall and Judge Dread. as reboots the last two are bound to be better then the originals at least. in a lot of ways the best movie i've seen this year when it comes to action/sci-fi was Chronicle.

  4. cheers guys! Dale you just made me think they dyed a redhead to play a blonde and last time it was the other way round. crazy... random bt crazy.

    Shlomo glad you liked it. like you say its an ok movie but to me it's just not Spider-man. they change to much and for me they switch for aiming too young half way through.

    Best movie this year? Avengers for me but Bats could easily yank that title.

  5. Dan, this was the best critique I've read so far. The most detailed, honest and knowledgeable side by side of who and what Spiderman is.

    Sure the movie was ok, but not Spiderman.

    Twilight in spandex, Nuff said

  6. Cheers for the great feedback OA - that's really cool to hear. From your write up it looks like we had a pretty similar experience, here's hoping Bats brings the good stuff home soon.

  7. so far it seems like all you sci-fi/comic book blog guys pretty much don't like this movie. some preliminary reviews found on Youtube seem to consist of people who liked it more then you guys did.
    i guess ultimately i wasn't tripn on the movie either way before i watched it cause i knew that if it sucked i could always disregard it like i did with the SW prequels because there will always be the Raimi Spidermans. by the way Dan when you have a free minute check out my latest color project on the ROM blog. i amaze myself sometimes i think you'll have a more positive experience seeing what i did then you did seeing Spiderman.

  8. Oooh. Dave, I just rented Chronicle today. I'm glad you liked it, cause that bodes well for my viewing pleasure tonight. Retro thanks buddy.

    The Twilight comment made me laugh, because the first thought I had when I saw the actor they got to play Peter was that he looked a little too much like the Sparkly Vampire Edward. But then, I was still bitter at the end of the Toby McGuire Peter Parker. Because I loved Toby. *sigh* I have a hard time letting go.

  9. Lol "you sci-fi/comic book blog guys" Shlomo? How many comic/sci-fi blogs do you run again? ;)

    Hey Random!! Hope you and family are doin well. I actually watched Spider-Man 2 last night on the telly, and yeah even with a heinous amount of ads involved, I realised I have a hard time letting go of his Peter Parker too.

  10. Hi Dan! The family is good, hanging in with the excessive heat. Praying that the air conditioning holds out, and thanking God that my sister owns a pool. Hope you're doing well in the land of Hobbits.

    Ah, Spider-man 2. Required viewing in my household. At least once every two months. I put the boy on rations. I'm not kidding. He's a Spider-man nut. Although I did manage to convince him to dress up as Thor briefly last Halloween, but then it was right back into the Spider-man costume the next day. He's even introduced all his younger cousins and friends (ages 4 and under, mostly girls) to the origins of Spider-man, and they all want to be Spider-man too. (They've informed him frequently that girls can TOO be Spider-man.) I was so pleased with Toby's Peter and what it meant to my little boy. How it held up that iconic Peter Parker. I'm not sure this new one will be doing him any favors. Not that he'll care, but I will.
    Or maybe I'm just being too much of a "comic book mom" and should relax.

  11. there can never be too much of a comic book mom Random! Love the line girls can too be Spider-Man. Too right! Or atleast till Marvel gives Jessica Drew her due, then the girls might get their own arahnid idol!

  12. Loved your comments! My oldest used to whatch SM3 every day for a whilewhen he was two, and because it was doubled in portuguese I didn't noticed (Shame on me) it wasn't cartoons (Same voices)
    He still separates the red Spider-man from the black Spider-man.
    I couldn't drag myself to the cinema to whatch this new version. It seems nowadays, everyting is for teens, and ergo, I'm not a teen and neither are my children. Also I really didn´t like the vibe of the new Peter in trailers. It must be that Twilight feeling. I want my cheerfull in trouble Peter Parker back.

  13. I agree Aliera - when Spidey isn't funny it's not Spider-Man either is it. I think he cracks one or two jokes here but it's not his usual level. In fact if you've seen the trailers, you've already seen the main one.

    Thanks for sharing those comments!