Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Man on Film: The Amazing Spider-Man

One could spend time, words, and effort lamenting the fact that Sam Raimi actually made the steaming shit-pile that was Spider-Man 3, but it happened and was deemed so disastrous by Marvel Films as to necessitate a reboot of the franchise. One could also use this as a jumping off point for whining about the idea-less state of Hollywood, but that is an incredibly tired topic of discussion that does not need to to be explored here either. 

On its own merits, The Amazing Spider-Man is not particularly good. On the creative side of the film, director Marc Webb (500 Days of Summer) and screenwriters James Vanderbilt (The Rundown, The Losers, Zodiac, Basic), Alvin Sargent (Paper Moon, Spider-Man 2 and 3, White Palace), and Steve Kloves (all of the Harry Potter films, Wonder Boys) fail to fully endear the characters to the audience. It does not take much to sell the audience on Peter Parker, but for nearly every other character the development is sorely lacking. The death of Uncle Ben in particular rings fairly hollow, which is sad because it means that the presence of Martin Sheen is wasted. The burgeoning relationship between Gwen Stacy and Peter is entirely rushed, going from zero to 60 in roughly three minutes of shared screen time, going from asking out to being in love without any cause being presented on-screen other than the simple passing of time. 

And this is all too bad, as from a basic level, they improved conceptually on what Raimi was doing. 

In this inception of the series, they elected to hew closer to the story arcs from the comics. The purist that resides somewhere within me was always bothered by the fact that Mary-Jane's introduction was moved to high school, negating the importance of the Gwen Stacy storyline. They also cast Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone, both of whom I personally prefer to Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst. I also like the explanation as to why Peter would be so naturally inclined to being a prodigious scientific mind. These facts leave me hopeful for the future of the franchise. It is just that the future hopefully involves different talent on the creative side because the talent because The Amazing Spider-Man certainly failed to carry the emotional weight that it should have, falling utterly flat and feeling roughly half an hour longer than its actual run-time--in a bad way.

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