Monday, July 9, 2012

Film Review - The Amazing Spiderman

Hey true believers and newcomers alike!

It does seem a little early doesn't it? Rebooting Spiderman only ten years after Sam Raimi's Spiderman broke a lot of box-office records and only five years after Spiderman 3 did... well this.

Behold, True Evil!

Ok so maybe a reboot makes sense... But that belies the true nature of why The Amazing Spiderman came to be. Marvel Studios (now a part of the all-powerful Disney Empire, all hail) has been trying to re-purchase the film rights to all their characters they sold in the 90's (see also the characters Blade and Daredevil). Sony (the current owners of the Spiderman movie license) have had to make use of the license before their rights to it expire and Marvel snaps it back up. So this film was made by necessity rather then the need to tell an engaging or fresh story. 

And does it show...

Director Mark Webb clearly planned to create a darker, more realistic and modern re-working of the tale of Spiderman. That in itself is no crime, with Sam Raimi's films often being accused of being too fantastical... because naturally the tale of a man dressing in red & blue spandex to fight crime should be treated with the dignity and gravity it deserves.

The Amazing Spiderman's plot follows Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) losing his parents as a child and his uncle as a teenager. Around the time of his uncle's death he gains his spider-powers and takes to the streets, first to find his uncle's killer and later to stop Dr.Kurt Conners (Rhys Ifans) from turning into a horrible CGI mess (The Lizard). Dennis Leary is also in there somewhere.

I won't mince words here, The Amazing Spiderman is horrible. It is infuriating. It is utterly soul-less, a film with no original ideas, no ambitions and no understanding of the subject matter OR why people love the subject matter. This film ends on Spiderman shooting his web-shooters at the camera in an audience money-shot that sums up how this film makes me feel, like Sony orgasmed all over my face and then charged me for the pleasure. 

At Least The Hulk Said He Would Call!

Peter Parker in the comics is an appealing hero because he is an outsider, an intelligent but marginalised loner who gains incredible powers but through tragedy learns that with great powers come great responsibility. Here, there is no arc for Peter (They don't even say the great power-great responsibility line, instead Martin Sheen talks around the classic quip). Peter Parker in The Amazing Spiderman is the same character before he gains his powers, after he gains his powers and when he puts on the suit. The arc of Peter Parker's growth towards become Spiderman is supposed to be the entire point of the character, yet the film almost completely ignores it. 

Even uncle Ben's (Martin Sheen) death is completely mis-handled. In the comics, Peter at first attempts to make money off his spider-powers and a moment of greed-induced anger inadvertently causes uncle Ben's death. This makes Peter realise the true value (and cost) of his powers, leading him to use them for good and not self-enrichment. In The Amazing Spiderman a moment of immaturity and stolen chocolate-milk causes uncle Ben's death, Peter tries to hunt down the criminal but fails and after being told off by a policeman Peter abandons the hunt for his uncle's killer. Later on, Spiderman randomly decides that he's the only one that can stop the Lizard, for no real reason.


The only change Peter goes through once he gets his powers is he now starts to bully the guy who bullied him, like all noble heroes usually do. Other grand and heroic gestures include taking sneaky pictures of unwary girls, in this case love interest Gwen Stacey (Emma Stone). The creepiness only intensifies when Peter decides to climb up a fire escape to stare in Gwen's bedroom window without her knowledge. She is naturally charmed by his antics as opposed to pepper-spraying him. 

It's impossible to care for Peter in The Amazing Spiderman because he is not even an individual, he's a jumble of traits that some big-wig at Sony thought the kids would find 'cool'. This isn't a unique spin on the character, this seems to be a mashing of Edward Cullen from Twilight (moody, dangerous, creepy, girl immediately falls for him for no reason, secret nightlife) and Batman from Batman Begins (revenge quest for dead relatives turns into more enlightened battle for justice, villain wants to gas a city & has weak motivations, secret nightlife). This Peter is a moody, snarky skateboarder who never does anything memorable or interesting. Tobey Maguire may have been far from perfect as Spider-man but I miss his Peter Parker so much right about now!

I Mean Look At Him, He's Adorable!

It is almost impossible to over-state just how much they fucked up in the writing of Peter Parker here. It makes all the other flaws almost redundant. Not that the other flaws are not huge in their own right. Oh no. In fact I've made a list of my issues and questions about the film to save time.
  • 1. Did the film need to be two and a half hours long? Does it need to feel six hours long?
  • 2. How did a film with a budget of over one hundred million dollars manage to look so bad? Aside from some web-slinging scenes almost everything, from burning cars to mutant mice to the Lizard himself looks deliberately awful.
  • 3. Why did losing an arm make Dr.Connors become evil? Is it like in Metal Gear Solid 2 where Revolver Ocelots surgically-grafted arm makes him change into a different character, like did Dr.Connors lose his good conscience arm? Or is it just awful writing (much like Metal Gear Solid 2)?.
  • 4. Why does being turned into a lizard make you talk to yourself all the time and want to turn other people into lizards? Is the Lizard secretly just lonely?
  • 5. Why is romance in this film portrayed as two people awkwardly mumbling at each other? I was a teenager once and that wasn't very romantic back then, that was just weird.
  • 6. Why is romance also shown as a guy stalking a girl like a creepy sex-fiend? Is Peter Parker a fan of Twilight?
  • 7. Why doesn't uncle Ben suspect drug addiction and ground Peter when he comes home acting oddly, sweating profusely and speaking strangely? I'm sure Martin Sheen knows what someone on drugs looks like...
  • 8. The crane scene, oh god... How did all the crane operators get ready for Spiderman so quickly... Argh! I'm not ready to explore this yet, moving on.
  • 9. Honestly now, why exclude the line "with great power comes great responsibility"? It's the cornerstone of the character of Spiderman!
  • 10. How did Gwen Stacey get important work at a highly advanced genetics laboratory when she is clearly shown as still attending high school?  
  • 11. Why does no one in this very high-tech laboratory ever wear gloves, even when handling animals or potentially dangerous chemicals? Like mutagens that turn you into a giant silly-looking Lizard for instance?
  • 12. Why is there no decontamination procedures in the sealed laboratory Peter gets his powers in? Or cameras for that matter? 
  • 13. And why does Peter start randomly touching experiments? Did he forget he is supposed to be a genius?
  • 14. Why do the web-shooters have little muzzle-flares?! Why?!
  • 15. Where is Jonah Jameson? And why do I suddenly agree with him on Spiderman being a cunt?
  • 16. Why would a film about a comic-book character be so perfectly designed to upset fans? I don't think non-fans will enjoy it either but it pisses all over fans of the comics. This Peter Parker is a stranger to all Marvelites and an insult to the character.
  • 17. If you want to make a more realistic Spiderman film, why on Earth would you use the Lizard as a villain? He is a giant green reptile in a lab coat! Surely the Kingpin or maybe even the Spider-Slayers might make more sense?
  • 18. Why does Dr.Connors keep a military-grade weapon in his genetics lab? And why is his high-tech weapon technically just a mortar? And don't even pretend his excuse in the film is any kind of rational explanation. It's an active lab, not a museum for experiments over a decade old.
  • 19. Why does the mortar need two minutes to figure out how to fire? It's a mortar, they are relatively simple. If the reason is because the mortar needs two minutes to prepare (rapidly spin) the chemicals, why can Spiderman swap the chemicals in the mortar with only seconds to spare?
  • 20. Why does the Spiderman suit look so dopey? To further this question, why highlight how awful it looks with an extended face-cam of Spiderman wearing sunglasses? 
  • 21. The Lizard begins what the police dub a terrorist chemical attack on New York city... yet Spiderman is still their priority target and the one they go out of their way to chase with a helicopter?
  • 22. Would it be too much to ask to sort out all the plot threads? Peter's parents, uncle Ben's killer, the vaguely mentioned funding behind Dr.Connors experiments... I know this film is baiting a sequel but sweet Jesus...
  • 23. Peter makes a promise to a dying man and then immediately breaks it and somehow this is expected to be charming? And this somehow impresses the dead man's daughter? What the fuck?
  • 24. How can Peter be a genius yet take so long to figure out that the scientist he knows to be experimenting with reptile DNA slicing just MIGHT have something to do with the giant lizard Spiderman just battled...? Especially when the scientist shows up WITH SCALES ON HIS FUCKING FACE?
  • 25. Did the film really need a scene where the Lizard gets repeatedly ripped limb from limb by gunfire? I know he can heal almost instantly (because reptiles can do that apparently) but it's still amazingly brutal and out of place with the rest of the film.
  • 26. Mind you, everything in the film feels out of place with everything else in the film... Why the lack of any consistent tone? You cannot go from brooding angry teen drama to light-hearted crime-fighting to cheesy romance to whatever the fuck the Lizards scenes are meant to be within five minutes of each other, it's confusing for the audience.
  • 27. Not helping with the tone issue, this has got to be the worst edited film I have seen since Glen or Glenda. Is it that hard to cut from one scene to the next? Did the Spiderman costume being created need to be done in extremely fast, mixed camera-style cuts each under twelve seconds in length? Really?
  • 28. What happened to Norman Osbourne's Indian henchman? He comes in, threatens Dr.Connors, threatens to inject a load of people in a hospital with an experimental drug for regrowing limbs (seriously, he tries to do this and thinks this is a good plan) and then vanishes after a fight scene. Last we see him his head smashes against a windshield. So he is dead...? Knocked out? Still intending to inject unwilling people with untested chemicals that will either regrow limbs or out-right kill them?
  • 29. Uncle Ben's last phone-call to Peter, which they play at the end, makes no sense. Uncle Ben calls Peter to let him know that Peter is his hero.. because Peter forgot to pick up aunt May and then ran off. Uncle Ben has pretty low expectations in people doesn't he...?
  • 30. Lastly, lets talk about my least favourite part of the film, the crane scene... the fucking crane scene where all the crane operators in New York work together so Spiderman can swing out of their cranes to get to the Lizard... Did no one on the film-set stop to point out that the crane scene is the goofiest, stupidest scene in any superhero film ever? yes, worse then emo Peter Parker in Spiderman 3. Worse then The Spirit swapping toilet-related puns with Samuel Jackson. Worse then Uma Thurman in Batman & Ro... ok the crane scene is the second goofiest thing ever in a superhero film.

Not To Be Sexist Uma But... This Would Have Been Fine

No character is interesting or elaborated on. Gwen Stacy and her father (The afore-mentioned Dennis Leary) are the only two characters to even be remotely likable and the only changes they go through is that one ends up dead by the end of the film and one ends up dating Peter (and no, I won't tell you which is which...).

Nothing is resolved satisfactorily, in particular the Lizard has been mutilated as a character. Gone are the pathos of the character in the comic, the keeping secret of his dual identity, the Jekyll & Hyde battle for control of himself, the genuine desire of Dr.Connors to not succumb to the Lizard. Instead Dr.Connors gladly embraces looking ridiculous due to missing-arm syndrome and decides that being a giant reptile naturally makes one a fascist, eugenics-endorsing lunatic. If Peter exists as a cluster of traits and personas, the Lizard doesn't even get that far on the development chart. He is a villain because every super-hero film needs a villain. He is even more fundamentally flawed then Peter but due to just being the bad guy, he doesn't hurt the film as much as Peter does.

Everything else, from the staggeringly incompetent editing to the inane and unfunny dialogue just pushes how little love went into making The Amazing Spiderman. It is a film by committee, a film by people who don't love the art of film or of comics but just the profits said ventures can bring. It doesn't even care that its awful because it knows that people will still go to see it because it has Spiderman. Because comic-book films bring in that all-powerful 'geek dollar'. Because even if it is a piece of shit we will see it, just to witness the train-wreak that it truly is for ourselves.

Please do not see this money-grab of a film. Do not support this exercise in committee-based bullshit. If you are a fan of the comics this film will damn-near kill you through induced nerd-rage. If you are not a fan, this film will still upset you because it is a bad and unentertaining film. I can't even call it hilariously bad because it's too obsessed with being realistic and much too boring as a result.

It does not seem to grasp how to create or develop characters, it does not handle old ideas from the comic well and any new ideas it does have are all uniformly awful. It has no concept of pacing or of tone. It doesn't even care for the reasons Spiderman is such an iconic hero. It hates you as an audience and just wants to take your money and fuck you over.

In conclusion, I didn't care for The Amazing Spiderman very much. 

Til next time! 

Rating : 0.5 out of 5 - For Having One Funny Spiderman Quip. Pity It Was Already In The Trailers. Oh And I'll Admit, The Stan Lee Cameo Was Brilliant.

See If You Like : Pissing Me Off.


  1. It was rubbish but I don't think it warrants that level of vitriol. I don't regret seeing it. A lot of the points you focus on are just offshoots of point 26, which is in fact the crux of the matter.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. But the issues I raise mostly are not about tone, they are about scenes that make no sense, I mean tone has little to do with the Spider-suit looking awful, the lizard looking worse, no-one having any clear motivations, uncle Ben's last words being hammy and random or the fucking... crane... scene...

    But the tone was the most consistent problem after the no-show that was this film's Peter Parker

    (Deleted previous comment due to a spelling mistake btw)

  4. Ok the suit is entirely a subjective opinion, I thought it looked great. Lizard was grand, not worth complaining about anyway. Motivations were muddled as the movie hopped from tone to tone. Ben's speech and the crane scene were horribly out of place due to being tonally inconsistent, and even the tone within those parts were poorly executed.