Monday, July 2, 2012

Spider-Man...Amazing or not worth getting caught in the web?

Comic book movies have been summer movie staples for the past few years. The last time we saw Spider-Man on the big screen, a bad taste was left in the mouths of fans everywhere. I for one was hoping that Sam and Tobey would reunite if for no other reason than to apologize for Spider-Man 3.

Sony had other plans. The franchise would be rebooted with an entirely new cast. We know all of this, but the question becomes does it work?

The rumor mill was flooded with stories. The direction would be that of the first Hulk. Peter would be genetically altered and that is why the spider bite changes him. Bad idea. Let me say that was merely a rumor. Thank God. The story we got was something different than the one we were familiar with. I was ok with Andrew Garfield, but we will come back to him later.

Marc Webb spins a different, but somewhat satisfying web. Peter Parker is surrendered to his Aunt and Uncle when his parents mysteriously flee. He grows up and awkward science nerd with daddy issues. In Webb’s tale he is infatuated with Gwen Stacy. A slightly more popular science nerd. Mary Jane Watson is nowhere to be found and this portion is much more true to the comic. Peter is bullied by Flash Thompson and is the star of the basketball team. I would have preferred football, but that is just me. Pete has a good heart, but isn't strong enough to stand up to Flash. When he finds his father’s missing research, he becomes involved with Oscorp and Dr. Curt Connors, who in this story was Pete's dad’s research partner. Gwen and Pete grow closer and Pete's obsession with his father's research grows as well. Genetically altered spiders play a part and of course Peter is bitten. We know this and it is done slightly different than both the comic and previous movies. The result is the same.

Pete develops the typical spider powers and learns to use them. I have problems with some of the way he does this. I am not a fan of using the powers in public. People are not that stupid. The scene on the basketball court is cute, but the minute you see Spidey on the news, you could probably figure out he was the kid from your gym class.

 Webb also returns to the comic roots by bringing back web shooters. I liked the explanation of where the fluid comes from and Peter's ability to build them. I was ok with the organic webs from the previous films, but I was a fan of the way they played out in this version. The ode to the wrestling ring is a nice touch and the way he builds to the suit works. Let's talk about the suit.

When I first saw it, I really wasn't sure. On screen it looks fantastic. It works really well and looks better than the classic suit that Tobey wore. I was never a fan of the bubble webs on the Raimi suit and this one is much cleaner. I give Webb and his crew mad props on the costume.

Peter learns more about Dr. Connors who has a break through, but it ultimately goes wrong leading to him becoming the Lizard. Spider-Man in the meantime is out playing vigilante after his Uncle is killed. If I had one major flaw with this film it was Uncle Ben. Martin Sheen does ok, but the story doesn't do the character justice. He is a moral anchor for Spider-Man, but it felt like his death was glazed over. It happened and Peter was out looking for revenge. I had a problem with this lack of emotion. Uncle Ben's death is pivotal in Pete becoming the character we love and I don't feel it was done justice in this film.

Pete looking for Ben's killer leads to the police hunting Spidey. Connors in the meantime is rampaging through the city as a giant lizard. He decides that he can make a better race and it becomes Spider-Man's mission to stop him. It's a simple story, but does it work?


Rhys Ifans was phenomenal. Webb lifted the Dr. Connors story almost exactly from the comic. A brilliant scientist who is full of morals, but accidently corrupts himself while trying to fix his own deformity. There is a back story that gets hinted at, but not followed through with and I'm ok with it. We are never formally introduced to Norman Osborn, but Oscorp plays a pivotal role in this story. The Lizard looks amazing on screen and the fight scenes are really good. I was a bit disappointed that we never meet Connor's family as they were big parts of the comic, but I can live with it.


I loved Dennis Leary as Capt. Stacy. He brings the usual sarcasm mixed with a sense of honor and duty. He is believable as the veteran police Captain and credible as the over protective father. It was great to see C. Thomas Howell in a decent cameo. Stay gold Pony Boy. I was a little disappointed with Sally Field as Aunt May. She never really looked the part for me. I kept waiting for her to tell Pete that "Life was like a box of chocolates."


Emma Stone is perfect as Gwen Stacy. She is the right amount of sexy with tough. She comes across as smart and good natured. The chemistry with her and Garfield works very well. It is every bit as solid as Tobey and Kirsten. I wanted to see their story continue and I am excited to see Emma take Gwen to her characters eventual close. Andrew Garfield does well as Spidey. I like the fact that he is so skinny. Spidey was never big and Garfield looks great when he is on screen in the suit. The wise cracks were there and he does a good job of bringing a modern Peter Parker to life, but there is still something missing. In fact it was missing from the entire movie.

The 3D is breath taking. The CGI looks awesome. The story is good and leaves you wanting more. The problem with Webb's Spider-Man was heart. The lack of it. This film fails to capture the emotion that Raimi and cast did so well. It goes back to what I said about Uncle Ben's death. You never really felt the emotion. You never really connect with this Peter on an emotional level. Emotion was always one of the keys to what made Spidey great and it is lacking in this movie. The visual is great and people will probably love it. Watching Spider-Man swing through New York is a lot of fun and I recommend I-Max 3D. If the story starts over from here, I can live with it. It is a decent take on a much loved character. The first hour drags a bit, but all in all better than many probably expected. I won't call it "amazing," but it was worth taking the spin.

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