“I’m still kinda abivalent about this whole instant reboot thing with Spidey. Yes, the Sam Raimi trilogy left things in a bit of a mess, and yes tonally Marc Webb’s films fit today’s attitudes better. But I still think completing throwing everything away and giving us an origin story all over again was not the way to go. You’re basically saying that your viewers are too dumb to step into a new story without having all the updates spelled out and rehashed, but that you’re perfectly content to take all their money for your efforts.
Part of the mentality I went into this film with was wondering if it could have served as the reboot point, without the first installment. I think if we cut the Peter’s parents on the run thing in favor of a “”this is how he became Spiderman”” thing, then yes, we could have done that. But that’s not how the studio chose to play it, which left me to continue to try and mentally reconcile whether or not this film was at all worth it.
As a stand alone film (without taking all those politics into consideration), I’m still of two minds about it. The things that were good were good. The things that weren’t, well, we’ll get there. For pure entertainment value, it wasn’t bad. Flashy effects. Quick pace. Lots of action. Great cast. I just hope you weren’t planning on going any deeper into it.
Let’s expand a bit more on the good. The single best quality is the cast. We’re not going the comparison route, just sticking to the here and now. Hands down, the absolute best casting decision this franchise made is Sally Field as Aunt May. First of all, who doesn’t want Mama Gump as their own personal maternal figure? But damn, she is an incredible actress with such strength, presence, and gravitas. Her screen time may be limited, but this past Oscar winner put everything she had, and may have even elicited some tears from the audience. Her “”I’m your real mother”” speech was utterly moving. If we wanna just take out the villains and have a movie about Peter palling around with his aunt, I am totally fine with that.
Andrew Garfield anad Emma Stone are fantastic as well. Stone in particular. You hear everyone say how their real life romantic chemistry is palpable on screen, but I find her very strong on her own as well. She’s not some silly damsel in distress. She’s a Destiny’s Child certified Independent Woman, and a smart one at that. I usually don’t pay so much attention to how one dimensional women are often portrayed in films, until I see a fully realized female character like Gwen Stacy, and I lament that there aren’t more like her. Back to that chemistry, the greatest strength of director Marc Webb is his ability to define strong relationships in film. That’s why he was chosen to helm this franchise, to try and take things in a different direction from the usual Look-at-the-pretty approach to comic book films *cough*cough*Zack Snyder*cough*, and that is admirable.
Unfortunately, Webb still doesn’t really know how to handle a big action film. While the individual relationships were great, the whole film was disjointed. All this focus on Jamie Foxx’s Electro as the bad guy, and he was kinda lame. Fight scenes with him looked incredible, but his motivations were forced and unbelievable, and he wasn’t as fully embedded in Spidey’s world as the ladies were.
The big disappointment for me was how Green Goblin was sorta shoe horned in. Dane DeHaan was a brilliant casting choice. Since we first saw him in Chronicle, we’ve known how bad he can be. Some of his sympathetic Harry Osborne may have needed work, but we didn’t see much of that. Nor did we really see much of that famous brotherly friendship between Harry and Peter. They skipped rocks for a bit and then they were at odds. I was talking with some friends later that day and we agreed that if Electro had been cut in favor of cultivating Goblin better, this would have been a far superior film. Visually, I like the inner demon Goblin look over the masked Goblin. Stuff of nightmares right there.
There was some concern over talk of 3 villains in this film. Because apparently we didn’t learn from Spiderman 3 that it’s too much. The third that was sprinkled in was Paul Giamatti as Rhino. I thought he was balanced in well, as a kind of bookend to the story. A supplement rather than the focus. 3 may have still been too much, but as previously mentioned, the problem was in two uneven big bads. An additional little bad is okay.
I think this is about as much as I am legally allowed to say. The other discussion I would want to have involves some major spoilers. Even if said spoilers are out in the wild (and heavily foreshadowed throughout the film) I just can’t go there.
Here’s hoping that next time around they can rein in the focus a bit better. But seeing as how the plan is to do a big villain movie and a bunch of other spinoffs, that might be asking a lot.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 – \m/ \m/ \m/