THE AMAZING SPEE-IDER MAN: Mega-buck not Mega-Mind.

By Dr. Craig D. Reid

Hey Sam Raimi. So what do you think about the latest film cashing in on the franchise you rescued back in 2002, The Amazing Spider-Man, so dubbed in honor of the original comic book that hit the United States in 1963? Does it look, feel and sound familiar? Did the first hour tread the path of paths already trodden?  Was it wise to rehash what’s already been rehashed in comics, TV, cartoons and live action cinema? Does it really matter? So many questions with only a couple of answers.

Therefore, think of the film Inception as Raimi could very well likely answer these queries with the following quips given in order they were asked, “Been there done that…yes….yes…time will tell….depends on who you are.”  Here’s my answers, “I liked it…yes…yes…director Marc Webb did step on dangerous familiar territory but it eventually worked…of course not, it’s just another movie from the comic book Mega-Mind Stan Lee trying to make mega-bucks about superhero Spee-ider Man. Please keep in mind, spiders are not bugs or insects, but arachnids (related to ticks, mites and scorpions) that are only connected with insects because they’re both in the phylum arthropoda. Side note, for those that like to know stuff for the sake of knowing it, pillbugs (aka rolie polies) are also not insects, they are crustaceans…yep, related to crabs and lobsters.

So yes, Spider-Man is baaaack (a common catchphrase for about 80-90% of everything made in Hollywood). This time he’s a Toby Maguire-less, Peter Parker waif replaced by the boisterous British bopper cat Andrew Garfield, who’s love for Kirsten Dunst’s redheaded Mary Jane Watson has mutated to Emma Stone as blonde haired Gwen Stacy, a young lass with a scientific foundation that helps save NYC rather than cry or scream at the drop of a spider web or supervillain pin.

In case you came in late and you can’t guess by now, The Amazing Spider-Man (perhaps Spider-Boy would be a better title character choice, who would then become Spider-Man after years of doing what he does), is a teen, angst-ridden lad, discovering love and the new powers he has as a result of a radioactive spider bite (or nowadays, genetically enhanced or engineered), which ultimately, if you didn’t know it, could be accomplished via radiation.

At the end of the day, it’s an old story told, with a new girlfriend, wowee-zoweed with advanced computer graphics that truly benefits from the new 3-D filmmaking technology so outrageously so that when he swings from building to building, crane to crane and from one dangerous situation to another, regardless of shot selection, we are engulfed in heart thumping furor. This is further convinced by weak-kneed sensations and jolts of shock we endure as Spider-Man teeters on the edges of skyscrapers, uncontrollably falls then has to dodge huge pieces of destroyed building as they careen down upon us, seemingly pass over or through our bodies and plummet down away from us with our sighs of relief.

Similar to Raimi first Spider-Man film (2002), Amazing Spider-Man revisits the coming of Spider-Man age, origin story. This movie opens with wee Peter and his parents, Richard and Mary, who after a break-in at their house endangering dad’s scientific secrets, rush over to Richard’s brother and sister-in-law, Uncle Ben and Aunt May (star power of Martin Sheen and Sally Field). Parking the boy there for safekeeping, the parents weep and hug goodbye. “Be good,” the father ominously instructs Peter, then poof, they’re gone…forever. Next thing you know Peter the meek is helping the meek as bullies in school unknowingly are treading on the wrong web.

Based on Raimi’s resurrection, we can guess the story for the next hour or so until there is no green hob goblin zipping around on a flying disc but there is the introduction of a new freaky green supervillain waiting in the wings.

Let’s go back to the origin. July, 1963, the sixth issue of “The Amazing Spider-Man” comic book, Dr Curtis Connors, who while performing emergency surgery on a wounded GI on the battlefield got his right arm injured during a blast and was subsequently amputated. Becoming a civilian, he uncovered the secret of how certain reptiles can regenerate limbs. Serum complete…injection done…his limb regenerates as does the rest of his body as he morphs into supervillain The Lizard. Albeit differently reflected, the end result is Dr. Connors, in the film a close friend of Peter’s disappeared father, becomes the reptilian humanoid monster The Lizard.

Although the CGI is extremely entertaining, first-time feature director Marc Webb takes away what could have been some really cool fight sequences by choosing tight close-up shots marred with snappy editing and camera angles that show nothing but flashes of a moving body. Widen that angle, let’s see what Spider-Man is actually doing, and use those skills to tell part of the story rather than try to shield it in graphic Tom-foolery.

Obviously, folks and fans are going to compare this film to all the other ones, and The Amazing Spider-Man compares favorably on it’s own.

Be sure to remain in your seats during the end credits as you’ll learn that someone we thought was missing isn’t, and perhaps that he/she will become the next supervillain…my guess….The Rhino or Scorpion.

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