The Amazing Spider-Man

"His past was kept from him. His search for answers has just begun."

Are you ready to give this a chance?
Okay now I admit, when I first saw previews for this movie, I was pretty lukewarm about it. I'd enjoyed the first two Spider Man movies, and wasn't sure that the intentions behind this one would make for a good movie. I have read a lot of movie reviews about this movie that leverage a lot of complaints that I think are really stupid, and a few that I just think are plain wrong. So without further gilding of the lily I'm going right into it.

The first and loudest complaint detractors seem to enjoy is that "this movie is just a cash in reboot", and while sometimes I think that leads to bad movies, in general complaining that a studio is making a movie so they can make money is a pretty weak insult. Yeah, they are making it to make money, that's why they make all movies genius. That's the point for them. In a similar vein they suggest this is being done despite the first Spider Man movie coming out in 2002, only ten years ago. Yeah that's a short span for a reboot of something, but face facts. If we want any more Spider Man movies (and I personally DO want that) then they need to reboot. Spider Man 3 was a goddamned disaster, and what they did in that movie was so destructive, so very bad, that you could simply not proceed after it. To draw a comparison, consider that the span between the first X-Men movie, and X-Men: First Class was about the same, and presumably similar reasons drove that retelling. While First Class might've been a more drastic retelling, the comparison I think stands. All these things aside, if you are so against the damned reboot, and have this unassailable "ugh why even like, bother man" attitude about it, then why even go see it? This get's down to the core of why I like movies, as opposed to many others who seem to review or even watch them. I like to be entertained, and I watch movies with that goal in mind. Even the bad movies I review on here, for the most part are entertaining to me, for a variety of reasons. If you go to a movie with the intention of enjoying it, you might come out disappointed or upset, but if you go in with the intention of hating every minute of it, well chances are you probably will.

Is this not enough inventing for you internet?!
Now that I've asserted that they are even allowed to make a Spider Man movie, let's talk about actual criticisms of the movie, and not just its existence. One problem you're liable to come up against is the fact that you are telling the origin story of Spider Man again with the story already fresh in your memory. People are going to inevitably draw the comparison, and some are going to be like "well what the hell, I've already heard this story". Well yeah, people first heard this story in 1962, when Spider Man was first published. If you're looking for a new story, probably don't go see movies about comics that have existed for the past 50 years. That being said, I'll do a side by side, because people will inevitably draw the comparison (after all you are actually comparing apples to apples here). Peter Parker, in the original comic, was a teenager in high school who gains super powers, and then creates web shooters so that he can assume the persona of Spider Man. In this movie Parker doesn't invent the web cartridges himself, but he does create the gadget that deploys the webbing. In the 2002 movie, he doesn't invent shit. If you comb over the movies, you might recall actually that we never see Parker doing a single science thing, other than almost flunking out of his college science course (coincidentally Dr Connors, the 'villain' of the new movie). In comparison, we see the new Peter Parker spending a lot of time thinking, evidence that he tinkers with things (he has a motorized remote powered lock on his bedroom door). Even besides that, we should remember that Peter Parker is a really smart high-schooler here, not Tony Stark.

Let's go jump off a building.
Someone might leverage that, as a tall sort of slacker-stylish skateboarder, Parker might not qualify as outcast material. That person would be wrong. You know what gets a kid picked on in school? It isn't having thick glasses and talking about calculators, it's being different. And our 2012 Peter is different. He's incredibly awkward, and presumably most of his free time either building his gadgets in his room alone, taking pictures of stuff, alone, or skateboarding, alone. Notice a theme there. So of course he's an outcast. Even in some special science high school like the one he goes to, there will still be popular people, bullies, and outcasts. I think that this setup makes his transformation more believable because we establish that while he's a very intelligent outcast, he is also reckless. Let me pose a question. If you woke up tomorrow with the powers of Spider Man the clinging thing, the super strength, the agility, what would your first action be. Would you say that you'd be likely to jump off the roof of a building? How about if you were a hyper nerd who never did anything presumably of remote danger. Swinging by a web from between buildings with instant on screen perfection? Oh maybe not. Now I'll allow, in 2002 movie a relatively large amount of time presumably passes. But that's a weak ass excuse. In this iteration, Peter Parker is already a skateboarder, so presumably he is used to doing reckless, crazy shit and maiming himself. And we see him do more of that. With increasing boldness he tries more serious acrobatics with first just his powers, and later with the webbing. In the process, he beats the hell out of himself, no bad
Spider Man as he was meant to be: Beat to hell.
You aren't arm-wrestling this guy.
guys necessary. By the end of the movie he is pretty great at it, but we see him get there in a really gradual way. Likewise, even after his Uncle Ben dies (and he is more or less the cause) we don't see him quickly montage into hero. At first he is a vigilante in the truest sense. Just some guy with a vendetta trying to get even. We even get to see him get called out on that fact, and while he strives to help, he struggles to eventually become a real hero. We need to remember that he is, while unusually good and smart, a teenager. It might take him a little while to get to the heroics. I feel like this new iteration of Spider Man also comes across as fighting in a much cleverer way. In the previous films, While he might get beat up pretty good, Spider Man always seems more or less on the level of his opponents in terms of strength, and he fights that way, by for the most part just trying to beat the hell out of them while using his agility to outmaneuver them. In this film we see that while he is super strong compared to a regular person, he is pathetically outmatched by the lizard, and at best can hope to stall and distract him until he can come up with a solution that involves his science background, and his involvement with the doctor's experiments. Really it's difficult to call what Spider Man does to the lizard fighting, he mostly just gets the shit beat out of him. When I think about Spider Man, that's what I remember. Spider Man is supposed to be outmatched physically by his opponents. It's his determination and wits that get him by.

Wait so she does things other than look pretty?
Now I'm going to talk about Gwen Stacy, as portrayed by Emma Stone. What do you remember about Kirsten Dunst's MJ? Do you remember that she was sort of pitiable, and not really good at anything? That's what I remember. Gwen Stacy in comparison is portrayed as a very capable young lady, who is actually intern to our lizardy Dr. Connors, and also very possibly smarter than Peter Parker himself. She has a father who is a cop, and so she is both familiar with and troubled by the dangerous aspects of Peter's hero vocation. In short, she isn't just a pair of boobs in distress, or something to fight over with James Franco, she's an actual character, who has the wherewithal to try and get herself out of danger, but enough courage to try and help where she can (and that ends up being pretty important for everyone).

All of these aspects work together to make a movie that I found more convincing, more natural, and truer to the character and his origin story than the 2002 film. While you could debate a need to make the movie over and I've certainly defended the necessity for that, this movie was from my perspective superior in execution to Sam Raimi's films. The setup was more thorough, the characters were more like real people, and the movie spent more time focused not on crime fighting, but on Spider Man himself. I don't know how so many people can miss this point, because the movie actually comes out and says it. There's only one sort of story, and that is the story about people. This was the singular reason why so many super hero movies from past and present have failed, and why the others did not. While action spectacle enhances a movie, it only works if the audience is invested in the proceedings, and the only way that ever happens is if you make them care about the people in the movie. By the end of the Amazing Spider-Man, I was invested in the characters, and that made the film a rewarding experience. Don't let detractors scare you away, go in with an open mind and I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.
Fuck you Tobey Maguire, you emo bastard.

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