2.7.12

The Amazing Spider-Man

Maybe it's not always a good thing to be so invested and precious about the stories and characters you grew up with. I mean, the new Spider-Man film is competent, I guess, but for me a lot of the enjoyment was sucked out as I remembered how the comics and TV show (even the 2002 film) did everything so much better. I actually think Toby Maguire managed to convey the vulnerability to frustration to strength arc more successfully. Andrew Garfield is good alright, but he could have been better served by the script and the direction.

The thing about Peter Parker which makes him the best superhero of all time is that he was really a kid just like the kids that read Spider-Man comics. There is a large element of realism to the story – it branches out of genre wish-fulfilment and into the lives of the audience. One effect of this is that Spider-Man can hang a lantern on the inherent absurdity of wearing spandex and fighting crime. When written well, he is both empathetic and funny.

Andrew Garfield could have done that, probably, if given the chance. But the film chooses to make him into a mopey teenager instead. It suffers from Harry Potter 5 syndrome: where the hero's anger at being orphaned didn't feel earned. Spider-Man should be angry, but that anger is mostly directed at himself. He feels responsible. He has to learn to deal with looking after his elderly aunt at a young age and on his own. Also, he discovers that the failure to employ your talents in a socially useful direction only leads to guilt and unhappiness.

I don't think either of those elements were presented that well by this film. And it could have been a lot funnier too. I'm now starting to pitch my own Spider-Man film, and should stop. To repeat, maybe it's not always a good thing to be so precious about the stories and characters that are important to you. Perhaps you end up not being able to hack an adaptation that scrambles the formula. Maybe that's what it is, or maybe Marc Webb doesn't really have a good handle on what Spider-Man is about – and so delivered an overlong and uneven re-boot.

ETA: All that said, there is one moment in the film which warmed the cockles of my fanboy heart – when Spider-Man throws Gwen Stacy out of the window and you think, hold on, that doesn't happen now, does it?? Ooof! Very good ruse. Makes up for the terrible Stan Lee cameo a bit later on...

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