Rambling Spider-Man Review

So I saw the new Amazing Spider-Man movie last Monday (the 9th). Given the shoddy treatment of some major creatives involved in developing the 1960s Marvel line (one or two in particular), it’s hard not to have mixed feelings. Part of me says a boycott on principle is honourable; another part says it’s futile. So between the two extremes I just throw up my hands. I was already in town to see something else anyway (The Casebook of Eddie Brewer—more on that in another post, maybe).

Spider-Man 2012

Well… was it any good? It was surprisingly all right. I mean, it fucked with the comics story a whole lot more than Sam Raimi’s 2002 effort did and I kinda thought, that’s for the better. Why be slavish to the source? To my mind it was better as a movie than the earlier version, as opposed to something that twiddles fanboy knobs. And at the end Steve Ditko’s name (and Stan Lee’s, but c’est la vie) was on the screen alone, about ten-feet wide. We know Ditko got screwed but, that’s the biggest exposure his name has ever had—I quite liked that.

It was CGI-bloated, of course, and mostly loud, slam-bang popcorn material. I’m indifferent to that stuff in general, but the extent to which it looked better than its predecessor was quite alarming. As far as it goes, it looked damn near perfect—I literally felt a touch of vertigo a few times and that generally does not happen, but it was so bloody convincing… one of the better CGI-fests I’ve seen.

Martin Sheen as Uncle Ben was a great turn. But special note to Sally Field as Aunt May—a casting choice guaranteed to cause many an old geek major conniptions. “BWAAH, she isn’t a frail old lady!” Yes!! In fact it’s made obvious she’s figured out Peter is Spider-Man too. Without saying it in words. He comes home beaten and bruised while she’s watching a news story on Spidey’s latest exploits, and she gives him a knowing look and a hug. The emotional stuff overall was astronomically better than the earlier movies—the cheesy Stan Lee spectre is fully absent. Right there the whole, “If Aunt May finds out it’ll kill her!” tedium is jettisoned to oblivion. The more I think about that, the more I like it. It’s like betraying the Sacred Lee Scriptures. I’m all for that.

Likewise, the “I can’t be with Betty/Gwen/MJ because it’s too dangerous!” bullshit is thrown out of the window, bag and baggage. He promises Capt Stacey he won’t see Gwen anymore as the guy expires. A couple of scenes later he whispers in class, in Gwen’s earshot, “The best promises are the ones you can’t keep.” There was no splitting up for lame misunderstandings, no blaming him for her father’s death and (again) breaking up… there’s a rift (on Peter’s part) for all of five minutes… oh, and he outs himself to her straight off the cuff too, so the secret identity schtick’s done away with quickly and efficiently.

The needling between Pete and Flash is blown over pretty damn quick too. I think it took about eight years in the comics.

Gwen did look a bit like a ’60s throwback because someone figured she should dress like the original. That was a bit odd and one of the few geeky nods—kinky boots! But what the hell. She isn’t particularly
feeble, at least. In one scene she attacks the Lizard while he’s throttling Spidey and, to put that into perspective, he’s the size of a large car. She’s also instrumental in the resolution of the plot. Which BTW, is kind of a weak point, being a steal from the first X-Men movie, pretty much—a gizmo to turn the whole city into mutants scheme. It didn’t bother me much but it does strike me as somewhat unimaginative. (As some of you may recall, I liked that first X-Men movie. I still do. The others, not so much. I didn’t see the last two.)

So I didn’t love it, but I did think it was pretty decent in a number of ways. Don’t skip it for moral reasons. As its own thing—i.e. fuck the comics continuity—I thought it was pretty good. Andrew Garfield is likeable enough in the title role and, although not as much of a geek as might be expected (and obviously less so than Tobey Maguire), certainly has the right physique. I liked that he was less of a nerd, to be honest. Overall, a thumbs-up.

(Note: Against my better judgement, here’s my review of the original Raimi movie circa December 2002. Please! It was almost ten years ago!!)

4 thoughts on “Rambling Spider-Man Review”

  1. The fast-forwarding of certain plot elements and the sidestepping of the cliched “I must leave the woman I love in order to protect her” finale were definitely to the movie’s credit. Part of me hopes they actually junk the end of the Gwen Stacy story arc (now, *that* would surprise people), but that’s maybe because I’m an old romantic.

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