In 2002 Spider-man starring Tobey Maguire and directed by Sam Rami ushered in a new era of cinematic superheroes. Momentum had been building with adaptations of Marvel’s Blade, and the X-men, but it was the unparallelled success of Spider-man that really caused comics to explode onto theater screens in unprecedented quantities. The genie had been released from the bottle and there was no putting it back; comic books and movies were united.
Now ten years later, director Marc Webb (by the way I’m greatly amused by that name) has rebooted the Spider-man franchise with The Amazing Spider-man starring Andrew Garfield. Sony’s new movie is the natural offspring to the past decade of superhero movies. The Amazing Spider-man serves to renew a franchise that can now live on beyond Hollywood’s fixation with trilogies. A good analogy is the Harry Potter film series, which follows the school year adventures of Harry and his wizard friends across eight movies. The same can be done with Spider-man, but in order to do so they felt it was best to start from scratch, and take the character back to his roots.
Such revamps are common within the comic book industry, but the film industry was taking a big gamble that audiences would embrace what essentially seemed to be a remake of a recent movie. Well true believers the gamble has paid off, as The Amazing Spider-man is on track for a box office haul of 140 million for it’s six day holiday start. It’s worldwide gross has already exceeded 300 million which ensures Spidey’s new franchise will have some staying power.
After the horrible misfire of Spider-man 3 in 2007, this is one fan that is thrilled to have Spidey back in theaters with a well done production, that left me wanting an immediate squeal. This new Spidey movie is simply “Spectacular”! I was going to say something else, but I thought I’d go with a less obvious adjective. Did I mention the new director’s name is Webb (sorry that’s simply too funny). Anyway although I prefer Webb’s film over Rami’s, they both have their merits and their faults.
- Danny Elfman’s score, and the inspired pop music by NickelBack, “Hero” and Sum 41, “What we’re all about.”
- J.K. Simmons as Daily Bugle publisher J. Jonah Jameson. It was as if Jameson had stepped right off the pages of the comic.
- The upside down kiss. Lord only knows how many couples have tried this, but a trip to your local ER might give you an idea how many went awry.
THE BAD –
- The costumes. The Green Goblin’s looked overly cartoonish and a bit like a power rangers reject. Spider-man’s looked great, and very expensive so how did Peter make it?
- Organic web shooters. The only real issue I have with this is.., why do the webs shoot out from his wrists? Seems odd. Wouldn’t they come from…? Never-mind.
- The starstruck love Peter has for Mary Jane. I’m a fan of the Peter and Mary Jane relationship in the comics , but here it just seemed over the top, and a tad annoying.
- Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker, and Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy. Their romance and on screen chemistry seemed real and genuine.
- The subtle and gradual learning of the “with great power comes great responsibility” lesson.
- Flash Thompson is more than just a two-dimensional cliched bully. He’s still a jerk, but for a minor character he was given some soul.
THE BAD –
- The costume. Again the Spider-man costume looks great, but how the blazes is Peter making a suit like that!
- A scene involving a bunch of cranes lining up to give Spidey something to swing on, trust me it’s very hokey and seemed out of place in context with the rest of the movie.
- James Horner’s score. I usually like Horner’s music but he completely missed the mark on this one. I wonder what Ramin Djawadi, who composed the score for Iron Man and Clash of the Titans – 2010, would have done?
On a final note, there have now been four major motion pictures about Spider-man. That being the case, I’m disappointed that for Spidey nostalgia seekers there still has been no official DVD release of the 1970’s television series starring Nicholas Hammond! Granted it does not come close to following established Spidey mythology, there’s no Uncle Ben, no super-villains, Betty, Gwen, or Mary Jane. It was low budget, and packed more cheese than a Wisconsin factory, but it was charming. It also had some great music, Nuff Said!