Movie Review: THE AMAZING SPIDERMAN (2012) – Too Emo Then Too Suddenly Happy
I’ve had a love-hate relationship with the Spiderman movie franchise. I very much loved Sam Raimi’s 1st SPIDER-MAN movie (2002) and felt he improved upon it with the sequel (2004) however, the 3rd film (2007) was just God awful. I was ready to leave it all behind, until THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN came along earlier last year.
I was actually converted. The ridiculous notion of rebooting a franchise less than 10 years old didn’t seem as ridiculous when I saw the promos of this movie. THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN seemed darker, grittier, and more real and Andrew Garfield was a great actor. However, I was disappointed yet again. Here’s my Movie Review…
Blank Page Rating: 2 out of 5 Stars
This time around, the Spiderman story was tweaked a little to be darker, edgier and more personal. In the comic world, Peter’s parents weren’t really significant, until years ago when they were made to have been spies with deeper ties into the Marvel Comics world… so they decided to tie that into the new movie. It worked, kinda.
This time around, we got a Peter Parker who had unresolved issues with his parents’ deaths. Issues that would be answered, or so we thought. Basically Peter’s Dad and this other guy were scientists, trying to slice animal genes with humans. Coincidentally, during a trip to that very same facility as part of a school trip, Peter gets infected by an experimental Spider, granting him his powers. While the other scientist happens to be Curt Connors, the guy who, in the comics, becomes the lizard. See what they’re doing?
Instead of Spiderman’s powers being a fluke thing, independent of the villain, in THE AMAZING SPIDERMAN, they’ve tied the entire universe closer to Peter’s origins, so the villain and hero stem from similar beginnings. It’s the same experiment that gives Peter his powers, and makes Connors the Lizard. So this time, it’s personal. Get it?
The biggest flaw of THE AMAZING SPIDERMAN was the director. Marc Webb was awesome in his directorial debut with 500 DAYS OF SUMMER. It was a quirky romantic dramady with an immature lead character, and weird situations leading him to deal with his life. Unfortunately, the same can be said of THE AMAZING SPIDERMAN.
This didn’t feel like a superhero origins tale, not that that’s a bad thing, but in this case it was. There was no established tone of THE AMAZING SPIDERMAN. At times it was being a quirky romance, other times an emo driven tragedy, then randomly going to a slapstick comedy and turning around to be an epic adventure story. I had bouts of schizophrenia just watching it.
The characterization of Peter Parker also didn’t sit well with me. As amazing (no pun intended) an actor as Andrew Garfield is, it seems he was overacting during a lot of the scenes. And again, an inconsistency in his character emerges after he becomes Spider-Man. As Peter Parker Garfield is shown as being emo, mopey and always sad about his parents. Like… All. The. Time. Which is fine, given the set-up and backstory of his parents.
However, when he’s Spiderman, he’s instantly a witty, wisecracking, pun machine. It just didn’t make sense. Especially considering the scenes that are meant to be tragic, with a silhouette of the poor kid sitting alone in his room in the dark… yet before and after that scene, he’s Johnny Carson. What?
In Sam Raimi’s movies, at least the horrible things that happened to Peter had an underlying humor to it. Things went SO wrong with that guy, that it was sad, but his reactions to it were so pathetic that it was a little funny too. With THE AMAZING SPIDERMAN, things seem SO tragic and depressive, that the following scene dispensing jokes by the subject of said tragedy, just seems out of place and seems to undercut the darker scene preceding it.
Another problem: The Villain. When inevitably, Curt Connors becomes The Lizard, he’s a rampaging mindless monster who Peter has to stop, as his formula enabled Connors to transform in the first place. So he feels responsible. Great. The whole ‘with great powers…’ line can fully come into play here. Then Connors revamps the formula to give himself more brain function during the transformation. Smart Lizard. Fine. However, out of nowhere, he develops this whole ‘take over the world’ thing, by planning to turn everyone into giant Lizards like himself. Huh?!
That development of the Connors character came from nowhere, and seemed completely crammed into the story, solely to raise the stakes and consequences of the bad guy’s plan… more so than any rational progression. His motivations up to that part seemed completely justified, and everything still gets accomplished the same as the movie. Rampaging lizard, destroying city, going to Oscorp to kill Irfan Khan’s character for firing him, Gwen getting caught when he shows up, etc. The 3rd act is could still have taken place exactly the same way… however, the whole ‘Lizard family’ scheme seemed out of the blue and unnecessary.
Lastly, it felt like THE AMAZING SPIDERMAN was trying to be an epic story. The last scenes where Spidey is caught by the cops, and after a flourish of the background score, is helped by the Media and Construction workers to get to Oscorp to fight The Lizard… made no sense. So he saved one guy’s kid a couple of days ago, this makes him automatically an accepted hero by the entire city, who minutes before were doubtful about his intentions? There wasn’t even a significant scene captured by camera showing he’s a good guy, for them to root for him so unconditionally.
Just prior to getting to the rooftop, on his way to Oscorp when the Construction Cranes all line up to help him along, he actually beats up a crap load of Cops. If the news cameras caught that, then there should definitely be doubt as to this guy’s intentions. Those scenes just seemed to try to be this epic coming together of the public to save the hero bit… which just seemed dumb.
THE AMAZING SPIDERMAN had such amazing (I’ll stop now) potential, but these little nuances and overall inconsistencies in tone and characterization just ruined it for me. Despite how badly I wanted to like this movie, it was a mish mash of genres, tiring to be too many things at once, and failing to be anything cohesive.