The Amazing Spider-Man Reboot Is Surprisingly Fun – Review

The Amazing Spider-Man

Elena-

As a Spider-Man fan, you obviously think the world needs another manifestation of Spidey. True or False? Discuss.

Rachel-

Well…this is kind of a trick question for me. While I was OK with the first two Raimi Spidey flicks, the third one was so heinous that I’m all for throwing all of them out and pretending they never existed. IT WAS THE MOST HORRIBLE THING. THE MOST. Plus I was never really sold on Tobey Maguire as Peter Parker anyways, mainly because HE ISN’T FUNNY AT ALL.

So yea…I guess we did need a reboot of the Spiderman franchise if only to make something better. Do I think we needed ANOTHER origin story? Absolutely not. Everyone gets Spiderman. Nerd bit by a spider is now a super hero. LET’S MOVE ON. Let’s just make movies out of some of his better story arcs. Like THAT is a novel idea.

But that didn’t happen. We got another origin story.

Still. SPIDERMAN! Do you even like Spiderman? Or are you a DC person?

Elena-

Ha!  You can’t trick me with your false dilemma!

The truth is…NEITHER.

There. I said it. I admitted it in public after three and a half long years:  I am a nerd who doesn’t do comics.

Look, I have nothing against them. I just didn’t read them as a kid, and they have never grabbed me as an adult, and so I have no intimate knowledge of or attachment to any comic book heroes.  As a general rule of thumb, superheroes bore the shit out of me.  I think I just don’t like the amount of disbelief I have to suspend in order to accept the stories is too much to bear.

Spiderman is…um.  At least he’s not Superman?  At least he’s supposed to be nerdy and lame and kind of smart so at least he’s better than dumb jock whose only power or relevance is that he’s an alien?

Rachel-

This Spidey is British and his girlfriend is Emma Stone. Do you like this better than Tobey “SadSack” Maguire and Kirsten Dunst? <—- I almost typed Kristen Stewart…the horror.

Elena-

Shudders.  Oh, god, the horror indeed.  Heart of Darkness style, “the horror…the horror.”

Anyway, yes, I like this pairing better. I don’t know why Tobey didn’t do it for me, but I was never interested enough in him or KiKi to actually see any of their movies.

When I saw the studio was making another Spiderman movie, I just assumed Tobey wanted to get paid too much and they replaced him.  Instead it’s a complete reboot, which I guess I am actually the person they were after?  The one person on the continent who might have been caught by an origin reboot but would have ignored Spiderman 4: The Amazing Face-Lift? So, congrats, Sony, you reached me.

I quite like Emma Stone, and while I am skeptical of Andrew Garfield—I liked him in whatever movie was our introduction but found him a weak-ass in Never Let Me Go (or maybe that was just what the character was written to be and he played it brilliantly)—I figured if nothing else I’d have a laugh picturing the Bachelor contestant from a couple seasons back who looked exactly like him. Seriously.  She exists. Her name escapes me, but it was the season that happened right after NLMG came out, and that was all I could see every time she was on screen.

What did you think?  Did Andrew Garfield make a better nerd cum dark avenger than Toby McGuire? Did starring in Never Let Me Go give him more nerd cred coming in?

Rachel-

I didn’t think I would like Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker as much as I did. True, he was a little less nerd and more hipster guy, but whatever. He’s skinny, he gets tongue-tied around girls, he cracks really lame jokes. That’s the Spiderman I know and love! Rock on, Andrew. (It helps that he gave a pretty heartfelt speech at last year’s Comic Con in a poorly fitting Spiderman costume about how much Spiderman meant to him growing up.) So I think he’s worthy. I think he is definitely worthy. Plus… DUDE DOES HIS OWN STUNTS.

Go cry somewhere else, Tobey…no one likes you.

Elena-

With a franchise that has been rebooted as many times as this one, do you still hold out hope for something new?

Rachel-

I’m just grateful I don’t have to sit through another Green Goblin story. (yet) Here’s the thing – a lot of Spiderman’s classic enemies are FUCKING STUPID. The rhino guy? Sand man? Mysterio? (OK, Mysterio could be cool…) So they don’t have a lot to pick from when it comes to appealing to the douchey masses. And no, we can’t have Venom or Carnage in the first movie of a trilogy. That would never happen.

I thought it was smart to bring Gwen Stacey back. It distances the franchise from the Raimi films, and it gives the comic book fans a character we love. I also liked the way they handled the Uncle Ben and Peter dynamic. We got to know Uncle Ben and they modernized Peter by taking away the embarrassing early amateur wrestling story line while still keeping homage to it in the film. The bullshit with Peter’s parents is a retcon we’ve all seen before, and it’s just as boring now as it was then. JUST FLING WEBBING AND BAD GUYS AND BE SARCASTIC. It’s all we want from Spiderman. Everything else is just bullshit.

Spiderman is a uniquely city-dwelling super hero. His power basically STICKS on the fact that there are lots of tall buildings around so do you think Spiderman is an ALL AMERICAN hero? (This movie came out on the Fourth of July and so this is fucking relevant, no?)

Elena-

Um.  Uniquely American?  No.  Uniquely urban?  Yes.  But London has tall buildings.  L.A. Tokyo.  Hong Kong. Dubai. Uniquely Manhattan might be a better way to put it, since I am not sure any other city has the sheer length and breadth of skyscrapers crammed together that Manhattan offers a man of Spidey’s proclivities.

I do think since superheroes tend to be vigilante crime fighters they are all drawn to cities just because that is where the higher concentration of people are and thus where the higher concentration of crimes and/or potential targets for domestic terrorism are. I am guessing that Spidey flinging from pine tree to pine tree along the western Louisiana/eastern Texas meth corridor would be less interesting to watch for most people.

So tell me about your viewing experience. How many drinks did you need to get through it? Were you able to make up a new drinking game for this new franchise?

Rachel-

I was fairly entertained actually. I thought it was OK. I thought the middle was too long, the crane scene was embarrassing to watch and the soundtrack was HORRRRRRIIIIBBBLLLLEEE. Distractingly bad? Especially during the Lizard boss fight in the high school. Did you notice it? It knocked me COMPLETELY out of the film it was sooo bad.

Other things that were weird:

The film eventually gave up on a bunch of early storylines, like how Peter’s parents were basically super-secret genetic scientists who may or may not have genetically engineered their son to become a super hero if were ever bitten by one of their super special engineered spiders. Or something.

It also dropped the illegal experimentation on people story line (did that evil corporate douche ever make it off the bridge on his way to the veteran’s hospital?)

Lastly it dropped (but I think this time on purpose) the storyline involving Peter finding the man that murdered Uncle Ben. This was pretty smart, though, because it’s just more origin story shit, and I’m glad it went away. I didn’t want to watch Peter get all sad in the rain after he brought the killer to justice. I just wanted to see webslinging across the NYCscape. So bravo on that.

Everything else I assume was taken out because they realized in the editing room THAT IT WAS LAME.. Or they are planning on bringing it back for the sequel…which would suck.

E tu?

Elena-

I, too, found this movie surprisingly enjoyable.  I basically walked in with the resolution to leave after an hour if I was not engaged by then.  I wanted a popcorn flick; what I did not want was to feel like I’d have had a better night on my couch with Uncle Redenbocker and a True Blood catch-up marathon.

I…stayed till the very end and will probably see at least the first sequel.

Yeah.  It was pretty fun.  Not brilliant or original in any way, and I had to stop myself from thinking about it too much as I watched, because…oh my god, so many holes to poke about the world-building and medical tech.  I think my biggest issues were (1) Peter’s reluctance to go all civil libertarian on Gwen’s dad and make a crack about how the NY po-po was too busy harassing minorities about Mary Jane (see? There was a place for her in this film, after all!) to catch actual criminals versus victimless crime facilitators, and (2) the super-fast genetic changes, and (3) the super-fast lizard-limb growth.  Because, you know, lizards and starfish grow back their limbs spontaneously and not cell layer by cell layer over the course of months.  And resequencing someone’s DNA can happen in a matter of SECONDS.  You know, how viruses do it.  Except OH WAIT, NO.

What. The. Fuuuuuuuuuuuuck.

I also felt the limits of the genre as I watched it.  Like, there were a lot of interesting places a movie like this could have gone but to go there would have meant it was not an action film.  When Uncle Ben died I almost walked out, because I just cannot deal with any more guilt-driven angst “Oh, no, if I had only stepped in and stopped that guy RIGHT THEN Uncle Ben would still be alive, ergo I must never refuse a call for help againnnnn!”  Luckily they did not use that tactic.  The whole “with great power comes great responsibility” bit was annoying but not as much.

See, Peter here reminded me of a guy I knew in college. I could use Simon Tamm’s speech about River making him look like an idiot-child for this guy. Everyone we were friends with would talk about how he needed to use his “gifts” for the world, like he owed the fucking world something just because he was born with this hyper-intelligence.  He just wanted to play music. And I have no issue with that. I don’t believe in the idea of obligations to society just because of what you were born (or in Peter’s case became by accident). I think it would be a more interesting story to me to have someone like him who just wants to be normal.  Like I kind of thought halfway through that Gwen’s being a researcher and super-smart herself would lead to him asking her to cure him.

I think he likes being special too much, though. I really appreciated that they touched on the angle of how much of an asshole Peter was to Spark (or whatever the Jock’s name was)…how easy it is for bullying to go both ways so there is no clear victim and no clear bully.

I…don’t want to talk about the lizard man.  That whole thing was awful.  I could understand why the scientist gave himself the therapy but the fact that he suddenly became a boring super-nanny villain was just the lamest thing ever. The voice-over thought process in the sewer…oh, god. That was just embarrassing.

Name what (if anything) this version did better than any of the other Spiderman movies (recent or otherwise)

Rachel-

Speaking of webslinging…I really liked the way they did it in this film. They restored the man-made webslingers and really took advantage of Garfield’s athleticism to recreate moves we see in the comic books. I wasn’t a fan of the first person webslinging. That felt pretty gimmicky, but the rest of it was great. I also felt like this film was actually set in New York whereas Raimi’s films always LOOKED like they were filmed on a lot somewhere, probably on purpose, knowing Raimi.

I also got really, really happy when Peter was studying in his room while sticking to the wall. It’s the little things.

Elena-

And tell me about what this version utterly failed to achieve.

Rachel-

They certainly didn’t reinvent anything. The Lizard design was pretty bad. I’ve said it before and I’ll always say it – he looked like a goomba from the Mario Brothers movie. A goomba in a lab coat. Same grin.

I don’t know how rewatchable this film is either. I’ve only seen it once, so I can’t say I won’t enjoy it again, but the middle felt so long that I left the theater doubting whether I’d ever really want to watch it again.

That’s probably a terrible thing to say about a movie that I didn’t think was all that bad, but it’s true.

Elena-

I think that’s a really fair assessment, actually.  It was enjoyable to watch at the time. Not something I will dwell on or watch multiple times.  Any sequels will be subject to the same test this one was: is it more entertaining than being on my couch, yes or no?

I didn’t see anything here that could be iconic…nothing that will inspire this generation of kids to love Spiderman above all other superheroes.

Rachel-

I also thought that they really jumped the gun on rebooting the Spiderman franchise NOW. I think if they had waited even a year or two they could have rebooted with Ultimate Comics Spiderman – Miles Morales instead of Peter Parker. This new (he first appeared last year!) Spiderman is a young kid from Brooklyn. A young black kid. He may not be an icon yet like Parker, but Miles is important, and a super hero film featuring a big time title character played by a minority actor would have been HUGE. Sony and Marvel missed the boat on that one, but I’ll bet it happens eventually.

Of course…maybe we’ll see a John Stewart Green Lantern or a Justice League movie first! If DC can EVER GET IT’S SHIT TOGETHER.

What will you do if Hollywood forces yet another superhero origin story down our throats next summer?

Elena-

What I always do: ignore it unless it proves itself more interesting to me than its genre.  Yeah.  That’s pretty much how I handle them, always.

Do you see any hope for the future of this version of the franchise?

Rachel-

A fangirl can dream that Sony will work out something with Marvel and we can at LEAST get a little Spidey cameo in the next Avengers film?

Pretty please?

 

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