Showing posts with label sam raimi. Show all posts
Showing posts with label sam raimi. Show all posts

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

movie review: 'the amazing spider-man'

Short version: well, it's okay. Realize that I've never been the biggest Spider-Man fan, but I will say that certain elements (like the leads and some of the aesthetic) really do work, but they're let down by an uneven supporting cast, some iffy effects, and a really problematic script. It's worth seeing, but it's not going to change your life. Warning: if you're a hardcore fan of Spider-Man, particularly of the Sam Raimi films, this movie will make you spit fire and brimstone, and while I can't say that you're not somewhat justified, you could do so much worse.

Longer version...

You know, I was all set to talk about all of the factors behind why this movie was made, and all the contributing factors. Having kept up to date on much of the press and buzz surrounding this movie, I couldn't help but feel both jaded and a little angry that it was being made at all. Even despite great casting and a hugely promising villain (I'll come back to this), I had a really bad feeling about this movie.

Because let's be honest here, this movie isn't being made because the writers wanted to try something special. This isn't being made because the Spider-Man story needs another fresh coat of paint with promising talent. No, this movie is being made because Marvel and Disney want the Spider-Man license back so they can team him up with the Avengers, and the only way Sony gets to hold onto the Spider-Man license is make a quick movie on the fly with the most affordable cast of stars they can scramble together. They threw Sam Raimi out and under the bus because he was difficult to work with on Spider-Man 3 (can't blame him, exactly, considering he wanted to use the Lizard or Vulture and was instead forced to use a shitty, shitty version of Venom - sorry, Topher Grace, but you couldn't have redeemed that), and they wanted to go for a darker, edgier sensibility. Immediately, this set off warning bells for me, because I know well that from the comics, making Spider-Man stories darker doesn't make them better. The fact that this seemed to be a remake for all the wrong reasons (drawing story cues from the Ultimate Spider-Man series in the comics) just didn't sit well with me.

And continuing on that thread, as much as I knew they had a great cast for this movie with Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone and Denis Leary and Martin Sheen, I still had misgivings. As much as I think Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst aren't compelling leads, the supporting cast of Raimi's Spider-Man movies was phenomenal. I mean, James Franco, Willem Dafoe, J.K Simmons (who is awesome in anything and everything), Alfred Molina, Rosemary Harris, and Thomas Haden Church all gave great performances in the trilogy. Yes, sometimes the movies were a bit campy and silly, but that's Sam Raimi's sensibilities for you - he got the tone and style of the better Spider-Man comics down pat, even if Peter wasn't snapping off one-liners. 

And here's the other thing: for the most part, all three of the Raimi Spider-Man movies are pretty damn good. The second is widely considered one of the best superhero movies of all time, but I like the first one a little more because Willem Dafoe is awesome. But even the third one I'd still hold to being a good movie - just not a great Spider-Man movie (and that has to do with a lengthy diatribe regarding Sandman and Venom and a number of other factors that would eventually descend into a clusterfuck of nerd rage). Yes, it's over-plotted and a little stupid at points, but there are moments of genuine artistic genius in that movie (my personal favourites being the Sandman creation scene in the particle physics research facility and the clocktower scene). To me at least, there doesn't seem to be a need to retell the Spider-Man story - there's already been three good movies exploring it - unless, of course, you're going to do something new with it.

But enough dancing around the issue - all of you know the history behind this production, and you just want me to talk about the movie. And so with that in mind, I went to see The Amazing Spider-Man on a stormy night, trying desperately to shove the misgivings out of my heart, and...