Weekend Muvie Revue
The Amazing Spider-Man
Movies are kind of like stories. Now bear with me on this – you’re probably confused, but it’ll all make sense in a minute. They’re like stories because people tell the same stories over and over again. They tell them for their new friends, they retell them for old ones, sometimes they just scream them at themselves in the mirror while they burn all their hair off with a curling iron. It doesn’t really matter that the story is being retold, it matters how it’s told. There’s the weird uncle method of storytelling, where they drone on about a stupid fish or some shit for three hours even though you heard this exact story last family reunion, and then there’s the right way. There’s the guy who’s legitimately excited to be relaying an experience to you, who embellishes and develops the story with every telling in an effort to perfect it. You don’t care how many times you hear the story from that guy, because it keeps getting better. Your uncle can just fuck right off, though.
That’s the key to a movie remake. There is no right way or maximum amount or even really a time limit, but you need to tell it better every time and way better if you’re retelling it right away. The Amazing Spiderman is coming out 10 years after the original Spiderman and five after the most recent sequel. That makes your job a bit harder, but all you need to do is pretend those movies don’t exist, tell the story you want to tell and then finish telling that story all the way to the bank. Some people will argue that you need to specifically avoid anything found in the previous version. They’ve already seen that, they get the idea and now they want something new. That’s a fair claim. It’s the old football movie argument – do you have a scene where someone sits down and explains how football works and risk losing the half of your audience that already knows, or skip it and risk leaving all the people they dragged with them behind?
There may not be a right answer. There’s only one very wrong one and that’s to try and do both. And that’s exactly what this movie did. It felt like the script was written by having someone who hadn’t seen the originals describe them based on their trailers. It labored too long on scenes everyone already knew by heart and brushed right by the few newer details it did try to add. Either treat Uncle Ben’s death like the huge moment for that character that it is, or have spiderman already be spiderman. Don’t give me this halfsies bullshit. By trying to rush through it, you’re essentially relying on us remembering these scenes from the first time and then carrying that emotion over to yours. You’re asking us to think of our ex while we fuck you and nothing good ever comes of that. Either assume we already know the character and go from there or actually retell the story like you care at all.
Still, I wouldn’t mind being rushed through the origin story so much if the story that came after it was good. And I wouldn’t be pissed if it was anything other than the worst script I can think of in the ‘modern’ hero movie era. It’s a story that doesn’t make sense set in a world full of idiots. A giant lizard attacks a bridge in the middle of New York City and not a single person captures it on camera, or can even confirm that yes, it was a giant fucking lizard. The Lizard discovers Spiderman’s identity by looking at his douchey hipster camera, which has ‘Property of Peter Parker’ written on it in giant letters. Peter Parker discovers The Lizard’s plan by sneaking into his lair and running the ‘reveal master plan’ program on his computer, complete with a graphic image of giant lizards spreading through NYC. The climax of the movie is Spiderman swinging on cranes. There’s some fighting afterwards, sure, and I fucking wish it had been given the attention those cranes got. But no, the culmination of all of Spiderman’s trials results in him swinging from construction equipment. Those are all spoilers by the way, and I don’t give a shit. I’m not even scratching the surface of how stupid this plot gets.
Making a movie based on a script this shitty is like looking at a lava flow and saying “This is the perfect place to build our house, we’ll just cram it in around all that hot, messy shit” but once it’s done the least you could do is throw up something that looks decent before it crumbles. Get some solid acting and a few visual effects in there – anything that will spice it up. Unfortunately, Spiderman couldn’t even give me that. The only acting is Andrew Garfield shaking like he studied under Michael J Fox or stuttering and umming with Emma Stone while they try and convince us they have anything close to chemistry. The effects look decent for the most part, but they’re kind of wasted since there are maybe three real action sequences in the whole thing. The entire movie is like ordering a sandwich, realizing it looks way worse than it did on the sign, then biting into it and realizing it also tastes worse than the sign would have.
If you come to this movie expecting anything the story will disappoint you and if you come to it expecting nothing, the everything else will. Its most redeeming quality is that it’s inoffensive. It almost knows it sucks and just tries to get it all out of the way. It doesn’t shove any blatant messages in your face or try to make you feel anything too harsh, it just awkwardly flails around like a white guy in a dance circle and then hopes you forget it even tried. It’s refreshing to see a movie that at least seems ashamed of the fact that it’s bad. I’d just rather have not seen it. And I’d rather you not either.
** (out of ****)
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