Tuesday, November 20, 2012

DVD Review: The Amazing Spider-Man

There are a lot of factors that make The Amazing Spider-Man suck as much as it does. I hope to cover the majority of the reasons in my review proper, but for the first paragraph I want to focus in on one particular aspect that got to me the entire time; the main character. Peter Parker, in this film, lacks almost any consistent personality, switching between character traits from scene to scene. And the one character trait that remains consistent is that he’s a massive fucking tool.

And for the record, no this not me being a fanboy over the original Sam Raimi trilogy. I liked the first two (not so much the third) but I’ll be the first to admit they’re not without their issues. The character work and dialogue is universally awkward, they haven’t aged well and Kirsten Dunst looked bored throughout all three films. But for all their issues, I’d still take any of them, including the bloated, awkward mess of the third film, over the disaster that is this movie.

Okay, okay, stop ranting, back up and explain. So, if you’ve been under a particularly sturdy rock for the past decade, you might be unfamiliar with the Spider-Man story. For the rest of you, this is basically a new origin story, with a focus on high school Peter Parker and his romance with Gwen Stacy, while the villain is the Lizard, a scientist who lost his arm and attempts to regrow it, turning him into…well guess from his name.

Okay so since I’m trying to do things differently, I’ll say the things I like about the film first. The film desperately wants to be an action film and it’s good at putting together action, if little else. Most of the action scenes are well staged and shot, and at least one in genuinely inventive. And while this is the very definition of damning with faint praise, this movie has to have my favorite Stan Lee cameo of all time.

Now onto the shit, and there’s more than enough of that to go around. Since I was talking about the action, I think I’ll start by focusing on the things that get in the way of it, namely the look. Spider-Man’s new outfit is incredibly garish looking, but you get used to it around the halfway point. The real issue, however is the villain, as his design looks awful (in particular his face) and while the CGI isn’t bad in the strictest sense, it’s certainly sub-par, especially compared to some other recent superhero movies.

The plot and script are another big fat target, as they’re essentially what drags the whole enterprise down. While trying to differentiate this movie from the Sam Raimi trilogy is probably a smart idea, the way it’s handled is by devoting FAR too much of the movie to stupid high school bullshit that manages to tick off every single annoying cliché of high school movies, including the really minor ones that tick me off (it even manages to pull out my least favorite, IE bully physically assaults people without consequences, but when the hero humiliates him without harming him, the hero suffers both consequences and reprimands from nearby authority figure du jour).

The story’s world also feels ludicrously small, even more so than the original films. I always complained that it felt like the entire world of the films revolved around Peter Parker and this new one takes that issue and turns it up to 11. You’ll see what I mean. And finally there’s a whole ton of problems with the characters, mostly in their scene to scene characterization. I already addressed how Peter switches personality traits at the drop of a hat, with the only consistent trait being what a massive douche he is (seriously, whoever wrote his fucking ‘comedy’ bits that he spouts off during the combat scenes should get busted back down to writing Michael Bay movies), but that issue extends to the other characters as well.

The movie never really gives us a solid character behind Dr. Curt Connors, instead focusing in on the one aspect of his character that is established (IE, I am sad about my lack of arm) and never really feels like establishing why turning into a reptile makes him want to turn everyone else into a reptile. There’s a few scenes that look like their building that up, (which, it must be said, rather violently rip off the ‘talking to the mirror’ scenes from Spider-Man, and those were problematic to begin with) but they just sort of drop that aspect and he becomes a reptilian fascist for essentially no good reason.

Based on how schitzophrenic the movie is and especially how weird the editing in certain scenes get (notably the scene where the Lizard talks to himself and a couple of weird character scenes toward the middle and end) it feels like the rumors of massive script rewrites, re-edits and even reshoots going on behind the scenes were true. For example the teaser doesn’t seem to be teasing…much of anything, other than ‘there’s other villains out there.’ That usually only happens when the studio doesn’t think the product that’s coming out is very good and if the studio thinks this is shit, then who am I to argue. Bottom line, I didn’t see this one in theaters because I couldn’t be assed to spend any money on it. Now that I’ve seen, I justified that position to myself. Don’t bother with this.

Elessar is a 22 year old Alaskan born cinephile and he kept hoping Spider-Man would go ‘Webshooters…EMPTY!?’ like in the animated series.

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