I remember being in high school and leaving Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man movie, unimpressed. A few years later when I saw Spider-Man 2, I was a lot more excited about what I had witnessed, but even that was short-lived. The third Raimi movie had so many flaws that it tainted everything I loved about the second.
So, last night I went to see Marc Webb’s The Amazing Spider-Man in 3D. I had been anticipating this movie for over a year and had a really good feeling about it. What sold me on opening night was the interview with Emma Stone, Andrew Garfield, Rhys Ifans, and Marc Webb from Comic Con. The way they talked about the themes and the characters told me that they knew what story to tell and that what they wanted to do with the movie went beyond superficial plot points.
Sitting through this movie, which was well-paced, funny, and touching, I realized everything that had bothered me about Sam Raimi’s 2002 attempt at Spider-Man. Spider-Man starring Tobey Maguire suffered from an extreme lack of patience. It was present in almost every aspect. Even the fact that they had cast Kirsten Dunst as a hybrid Mary Jane/Gwen to get MJ in the first movie was all wrong. Real Spidey fans know that before MJ, Peter had another love, and Raimi gave MJ her diabolical choice scene and let it all work out.
The 2002 Spider-Man introduced Peter Parker in high school, gave him powers, killed Uncle Ben, sent Peter on his revenge mission, and turned him quickly into a good samaritan superhero with very little transition. So Peter rages out on his uncle’s murderer, gets that out of his system in twenty four hours, and suddenly he’s a responsible hero?
Without spoiling too much, I’ll say that Marc Webb’s new movie is planning to have time to tell the Spider-Man story. This first arc is about Peter becoming a hero, not about him blasting through a list of Spider-Man iconic plot points. Not only that, but Webb lets Peter be funny and keeps the angst on a tolerable level. Where the rare Peter Parker wisecracks in Raimi’s Spider-Man felt like sitcom writing, Peter’s jokes in Webb’s relaunch really fit a twenty-first century teenager.
If I go on too long, I’ll end up ruining something for you. I’ll wrap it up with a quick list of points.
- The 3D was immersive and exciting. It never gave me a headache because it was shot for 3D. See it in 3D.
- Flash Thompson was dealt with soooo much better than in the Raimi version.
- The chemistry between Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone is off the charts.
- Stan Lee has his best Marvel Cameo yet.
Go see The Amazing Spider-Man. Now. In 3D. It’s awesome.
EDIT: I’ve seen a loan of b*ing and moaning from fanboys about this movie. I’m going to quickly rebut some of the main complaints and try not to be too spoilery while doing it.
1. Lizard’s face was wrong: Yes. It was. But it was far better for an actor and a relatable performance. Do you want another Raimi Green Goblin mask? (“♪ He’s scarier without it on ♪”) Get over it.
2. The whole “penny” argument made Uncle Ben’s death meaningless: Exactly. Peter refusing to help because someone screwed him out of a lot of money made it almost justified. Peter refusing to help over a penny– that made him even more guilty when Uncle Ben got plugged. This puts more guilt on Peter about not acting. Anyway, the point remains the same– Peter had a chance to stop the guy and he didn’t, thus killing his uncle.
3. Gwen was too hot: You seriously are going to say that it was unrealistic of Peter to date Gwen when he dated Mary Jane, a MODEL, for so long in the comics? You’re just mad that a girl was more than kidnap-fodder. She was useful. Nerds can get hot girls and hot girls can be nerds. End of discussion.
4. Peter’s immoral decision at the very end of the movie was out of character: I think most of you are remembering Spider-Man from the 90′s cartoon and idealizing that. This Spider-Man is a teenager and a work-in-progress. He’s not going to be a perfect human being. This is a movie series. If Spider-Man is ideal by the end of the first film, there’s no reason to make another film. Further, this moment of dishonesty is the perfect setup for what we all know is going to happen down the road. It’s canon and when it happens, Peter’s decision at the end of movie 1 will be to blame, making it that much more tragic AND making him that much more guilty. It will be far better for conflict. If Peter makes the right choice and then it STILL HAPPENS, we lose all of that guilt and conflict to inevitability.