I was on the fence about seeing this movie right up until I made the decision to go last Thursday night. I waited in line for the midnight showings of all three of the previous Spider-man films and even did my very best to make the last one as much fun as possible for everyone who attended with Spidey beachballs, trivia and silly string webshooter fights. I tip my hat to this day for the brave soul who attended that movie in his adult sized Spider-man pajama onesie complete with rear escape hatch. Spidey is my favourite super hero, so why would I not be waiting in line to see this film when I wasted many an hour in sheer anticipation of previous spider-films? I've thought long and hard about that and what it all boils down to is this: I wanted to dislike this movie.
There were many reasons for me to feel this way and even though they may not be very good reasons, they kept pulling me over to the side of just skipping it and possibly renting it on DVD like I did with Green Lantern. I still regret that, but I'm weak and I REALLY wanted that to be a good movie. I really wanted to like the previous Spider-man films too and that was easy to do, at least until the third film rolled around. It will be no surprise to many that Spider-man 3 left a very bad taste in my mouth (regardless of what some people think) and I'm still ticked off at Sony for interfering with Raimi and forcing too much into one movie. I'm no fan of reboots and neither is Sony considering they made every attempt to say that this wasn't one, skirting the issue, calling it an untold story that could sit within the confines of the others or just avoiding the question all together. I felt that the first two movies were good enough that a reboot was unneccessary, but the third film created a problem because it was doubtful the fans would come out in droves for a fourth installment after the fallout from 3.
With a reboot the only option I was given I finally bucked and decided to see the film with the hope I'd be able to judge it on it own merits alone and not have to keep going back to original films. Unfortunately, it was almost impossible to do that in the state the film hit the screen. This is not a complete film and there are two reasons for that. Firstly, there are gaps in the story that can't even be refered to as plot holes because at times there isn't even enough plot around them to make you care. Secondly, the creators of this film were so convinced that the audience would have seen the original films that they either left out key points and sequences or went so far out of their way to do it differently that it became painful and obvious. One character disappered after dividing his screen time being a generically evil story catalyst and setting up possible sequels. Gone. No explaination given and no one seemed to care one way or the other as they were already having difficulties keeping their own motivations straight and being overly agnst-y.
Take a close look at the above picture. See that little blonde kid in the photos in Doc Connors office? That's his son Billy who is a huge part of Curt's motivation in the comics. Important enough for the set dressers to include his pics, not important enough to be in the film apparently. So, what was the doctor's motivation? That any form of handicap is a weakness and must be eradicated, of course!
There were some things I really liked about this movie, but I'm left questioning the decisions made to include them. Peter building his web-shooters was a big win, but when you consider the main reason they made it a biological ability in the other films was that they felt people wouldn't be able to relate to Peter if he was too smart, I have to wonder if Iron Man proved that wasn't an issue. If that's the case it becomes less of a leap of faith in the audience and more of way to differentiate it from the previous films and an easier way to sell toys. Again they spend ample time showing the developement of the web shooters, but not the perfection of their use. Why bother? They did that in the previous film, so folks will just accept it and move on. There's much more important stuff to show, like skateboarding and a teen relationship that gets so serious so fast Peter is ready to reveal his secrets after just one date. Peter spends the majority of the film making poor choices and that is at least a pretty accurate portrayal of being a teenager. I also really enjoyed the heavy use of practical effects and hiring an actor who used to be a gymnast was definitely a good choice, even if he played Peter as more of a punk than a nerd.
The little details were the best part for me, how some things just looked right. Peter's camera was perfect and I was actually ticked off when it was destroyed and speaking of perfection, Emma Stone. gorram. Not only was she spot on as Gwen Stacy, but I never want to see her with anything but her natural hair colour again. Oh, and she did a pretty good job acting as well. To be honest the performances were really good overall in this film, but we've all seen plenty of bad movies where the actors did their best to bail and the ship sank anyway. Garfield and Stone's on screen chemistry was as genuine as it became off screen, but what was the chemistry based on? They went from barely speaking to a couple of awkward flirtations post spider bite to secret sharing/making out after a particularly awkward dinner with her parents. It's true that relationships often move this quickly (doubly so with teens), but the trust and depth of their relationship has no basis and comes out of nowhere. That does no justice for what was and always will be Peter Parker's true love.
If I'm going to bith and moan I'll not let the newest Spider-suit off the hook without going through the ringer. Terrible. Other than the web shooters this is by far the worst looking suit I've seen and I dare you to try and show me one I like less. Go ahead, give it a try. I double dog dare you! I'll only point out one thing that really bothers me about it and that's the way the red portions seems to be specifically designed to point to and emphasize the crotch. Normally these designs either stay located on the chest or there is a belted area to break it up and draw attention away from the groin area. I'm sure there is a fair sized audience who enjoy some spider junk, but why would a character who specifically bemoans spandex draw attention to it? It makes it look awkward and goofy and that's really saying something about a guy who climbs walls wearing a red and blue spandex fettish suit. Once again I feel this suffers from the need to seperate the film from the previous whenther they got it right the first time or not.
I have no problem with a film trying to set up future sequels and if it's well written these little details serve to enhance the story while teasing the audience of things to come. If you spend too much time doing it, while skipping important details and leaving too much up in the air you end up with one big plot hole and nothing comes together. I want THIS to be a good movie, not a smaller piece of a larger arc. It has to stand on it's own and this film doesn't.
The cinematography was inconsistant, the score was uninspiring and nearly non-existant, the CGI suffered a constant sketchy lack of phsical weight... I could go on and on.
What I Liked:
- Non-biological web shooters.
- The set dressers and others involved did a great job with the little things like books that shared titles with comic story lines and Peter's camera.
- Emma Stone. gorram!
What I didn't Like:
- The suit.
- The need to be so different that they rewrote uncle Ben's classic speech and left it twisted and toothless.
- Everything else.
Vedict: I could sit here for the next week and continue to think of things I didn't like about this movie, but that won't surprise you because I set out to hate it and made sure to get my wish, right? Wrong. While it's true I wanted to dislike this movie, that was based on what I saw of it and how much that bothered me going in. I always had hope and as I recently learned from two movies, that's the ingredient you need for true despair. I guess Spider-man: Turn Off The Dark's starting to look pretty good right about now...
Skip it. Rent it if you're curious like I did with Green Lantern. If only that film had had Emma Stone it might have been redeemable...
Nope, still would have been terrible.