Saturday, July 7, 2012

Still Hating on Spidey? Read This, Fanboy.

Fair warning: This article is riddled with spoilers. That said, if you've sworn off seeing the movie due to critical reviews or otherwise, this article is for you. Listen up, fanboy. You're making a huge mistake.

Spoilers begin below!

"An unnecessary, premature reboot."
"Peter Parker screen time > Spider-Man screen time (like, by a lot)"
"The f@$#ing origin - again?!"
"Mask's off."
"What's going on with that costume?"
"Peter Parker ... on a skateboard. A. skate. board."
"That's a lot of lizards for a movie set in New York City."
"Ooops, the mask is off again."
"Oh, the Lizard's inner monolouge is just like the Green Goblin's?"
"A villainous plot damn near lifted from "Batman Begins."
"A lizard rat. Yes, a lizard rat."
"Is his mask seriously off, again?"

Had I not remained relatively spoiler-free leading up to this movie's release, these things, taken out of context, would have kept me from seeing Amazing Spider-Man. Hell, lots of people are spouting these very things all over the interwebs (tee hee) right now, convincing others (maybe even you) to stay away. The scary part is they're kinda right. Truthfully, these are all things about the movie that, frankly, I still don't like very much.

So why am I compelled to convince you to drop 10 or 12 hard-earned bucks at your local movieplex on what some describe as more nonconsentual sex with your childhood? Because the stuff they get right, proves why this movie had to happen and makes it the best Spider-Man flick as well as one of the top 5 superhero films of all time. No foolin'.

Gwendolyn Loves Spider-Man
Since this seems to be the go-to reason to see the movie from fans and critics alike, let's get this one out of the way quickly and early. Peter and Gwen are perfectly characterized and their relationship is believable, entertaining and relatable (well, for some of us - we all know some of you trolls aren't getting any).

Anyone who's seen "500 Days of Summer" saw this coming from director Marc Webb a mile away. Haven't seen it? Good day, sir. Kindly return when you're up to speed.

Garfield and Stone deserve lots of credit here as well. Mainly for being better looking and more talented than Maguire and Dunst.

But Isn't the Lizard ... Y'Know ... a  Pretty Shitty Villain?
Sure. He's not great. Ledger's Joker he ain't, but what he is, is a violent, intelligent, straightforward, formidable villain that can go toe-to-toe with Spidey in thrilling, fast-paced action sequences in which Spidey gets beaten and battered and sliced open and nearly drowned in 3D. Will that work for you? No? Drop dead. Do you even like movies like this?

Everybody's Smart (Except When They're Not)
Many of us do a lot of screaming at our TVs and movie screens ourselves. When a character makes a dumb move we get pissed. These are usually annoying characters that screw shit up for everyone in the name of moving the story along. You know, they're usually dumb kids or Jar Jar Binks. Well ... OK, mostly Jar Jar.

We yell at our protagonists when they make mistakes, too. "How could they be so stupid?!" Guess what? We humans do dumb shit that doesn't make any sense all of the time. Even you. ESPECIALLY you. We need the characters to be flawed and behave like humans to make them relatable and to tell interesting stories. To give us a reason to root for them. Spider-Man is a perfect example of this, and it's on display here, but that not what I'm talking about.

Mistakes are made by the characters in this story. Big ones. But it's not because they're dumb. To the contrary. The characters are much brighter than in your average movie, picking up on all of the played-out superhero movie tropes as they occur. This is a world where it's hard to have a secret identity. It's a world where a teenager with spider powers might not realize how important it is to even have a secret identity.

Wouldn't Gwen figure out that her dying father would make Peter promise to stay away from her to protect her? Yes, and she does. Right away.

Wouldn't Flash Thompson kinda notice that Pete's starting to show up to school all buff and confident? Sure would.

Wouldn't Aunt May figure out why her nephew comes home beat up every night while she watches round-the-clock Spider-Man coverage on TV. Of course she would.

Hey, I said it'd be spoilery.

A Very Necessary Reboot
Go pull out the three Spidey movies and rewatch them. Go ahead. I'll wait...

Oh, wow. Those weren't as good as you remembered, huh? Yikes. Generally good yarns, but the dialogue? Blech. Green Goblin's costume? The Power Rangers must have had a garage sale. Let's not even discuss 3.

These movies have not aged well and I can't help but feel that many of the writers of Amazing Spider-Man must have watched Raimi's movies whilst screaming at the screen, "NO! Not like that! You're doing it wrong! AUUUGGGGHHHHH! Someday, Spidey, someday I'll make this right." Yet, they must have also been saying, "OK that part wasn't bad. Let's use that. Red and blue costume, eh? Genius!" 

They kept what worked and made vast improvements to the special effects, the action, the spider-powers and the interactions between the characters. The movie rebooted the franchise by putting Spider-Man in a much more believable, sci-fi world and it doesn't skimp on the emotions and excitement that are vital to any powerful Spider-Man tale.

The pursuit and ultimate failure to apprehend Uncle Ben's killer gives Peter a believable reason to become and stay Spider-Man. True to the comics, Peter is driven by responsibility, but thankfully, they never go so far as to reuse the cliched, "With Great Power Come Great Responsibility" line.

Perhaps the best part about the Amazing Spider-Man is where it can lead. They've made the story much more personal for Peter. The origin of the Lizard is closely related to his family. His own origin is related to his father's work for Oscorp. All signs point to future villains being tied to this secret history as well, which makes a hell of a lot more sense than a new villain popping up every few months with some insane, new, unrelated origin with Spidey feeling compelled to kick their butt around Manhattan.

With the world that's been created here, and stories like the death of Gwen and a rebooted Goblin on the horizon, I believe that it's a very real possibility that we see a sequel on par with The Dark Knight. Maybe better.

In Conclusion, What the Hell Are You Even Complaining For?!
In the end, we live in a time when it's profitable to put out high-budget Spider-Man movies every few years. Spider-Man MOVIES, people! And we're complaining about Peter Parker riding a skateboard between scenes of him swinging from New York skyscrapers, dodging bullets and punching a giant Lizard.

If this movie isn't for you (and I'd be surprised if it isn't), there will probably be another not far behind that will be. Until then, if you're a Spider-Man fan, put your reservations aside and get your butt to a theater and see this one. It's the truest version we've ever seen in live-action and you'll want to be in at the ground-level as a true Spidey fan. This one's for us.

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