Nerdy Nameless Reviews: Amazing Spider Man
The Amazing Spider-man
[As two self-proclaimed nerds and fans of the original comics, Ogie and Andrew take a look at how well The Amazing Spider-man measures up...both as a fun action / superhero film and to our comic-inspired expectations.]
[ANDREW]: We showed up last night to the theater with both hopeful excitement and trepidation. We were going to see the gritty reboot of our favorite wall-crawler, The Amazing Spider-man. Starring Andrew Garfield (The Social Network), Emma Stone (Easy A), Dennis Leary (Rescue Me), Martin Sheen, Sally Field and Rhys Ifans (Harry Potter), Director Marc Webb had a great cast to work with. I originally struggled with the directing choice of Mr. Webb due to his experience being limited to some music video documentaries and (500) Days of Summer. But someone decided that he was the man to make this origin story…and he did not disappoint!
[OGIE]: Well, let me be clear, I was disappointed… by the lack of geeks dressed in costumes. What, just because there are more options with The Avengers we don’t get weirdos running around in their pajamas “thwipping” people in the face with imaginary webbing? For shame nerds, for shame!
[ANDREW]: As was done with the other Marvel movies of late, the studio has decided to “serious” up the plot a bit more, modernizing and making it grittier, removing some of the cheesier parts of the origin story. For example, we don’t witness any masked wrestling scenes as Peter is trying to make money…but there is a moment where his trademark mask is inspired by a lucha-libre style poster in an old building. In fact, there is no “money is tight” motivation in this movie. A move that I wasn’t upset about because the plot moved along fine without it thanks to the introduction of a mysterious twist to Peter’s parents’ story. The writers gave just enough to know that Richard Parker was a genius scientist working on some extremely sensitive material. This is a break from the common story-line which really had little or no mention of Peter’s parents until 1997 during Marvel’s “Flashback Month” where they were shown to be agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. It’s still to be seen if the new reboot series of movies will take this story-line or create something else entirely…but it’s certain to be a connecting thread in the sequel(s).
I loved that Flash Thompson (no-name Chris Zylka) finally got a part and enjoyed watching him bully and interact with Peter. There was no contact with J. Jonah Jameson or the Daily Bugle in this film, but plenty of tie-ins. Also, Oscorp is featured prominently and while Norman Osborn is never actually on-screen, there is a build-up for some Goblin in Spider-man’s future (just curious if he’ll show up more traditional in the cloth/spandex suit, in beast-mode, a la Ultimate Spider-man comics, or…hopefully not…in Mighty Morphin Power Ranger tech like the first Spider-man movie).
[OGIE]: Some great characters in this movie go unthanked in the reboot. Martin Sheen and Sally Field do an outstanding job as Uncle Ben and Aunt May! Everyone can see a little bit of their own parent or influential family member in both of them. Sheen especially does a great job saving the role of Uncle Ben from his predecessor, without having to drop the “With great power comes great responsibility” tagline Ben is so infamous for. The point gets made without having to be overt. On a personal note, I thought that JK Simmons was awesome as J. Jonah in the Raimi trilogy, and if they are ever going to incorporate that character, I’m not sure who would do as good a job… Continue, Andrew.
[ANDREW]: For fans of the Ultimate comics, Garfield fits the ganglier Spider-man look well. Many of the poses throughout the movie could come straight from the comics. Webb stuck in a nice comic shout-out by having the Lizard temporarily in the traditional lab coat, which was fun to see, but didn’t interfere with the more realistic Lizard concept. The Lizard overall, was a pretty awesome rendition. While keeping some of the human facial structure (therefore losing the traditional longer snout), Rhys Ifans was still able to get some emotion into the scaled-up Dr. Curt Connors. The Lizard moved well, being motion-captured and then digitally altered. Webb was able to convey that our hero was slightly faster but not as strong as the Lizard and made for some exciting fight scenes.
One of my biggest complaints from previous films was the disregard of Peter’s own genius. This film exemplifies his genius in subtle ways that are believable and not over-bearing. Replacing the idiotic scene where Peter finds out that he has mini-spider-butts shooting webs out of his wrists (where exactly was that webbing stored in his body?) with a loyal-to-the-comic scene of Peter working in his lab to develop mechanical web-shooters made my inner nerd web-sling for joy.
[OGIE]: One thing I will give the previous Spider-man movies over this was Raimi did a good job at creating a genesis for Peter. It showed more of his trial and error style of becoming a hero. MINOR SPOILER!!! In the new adaptation, shy of maybe one scene, Garfield’s Parker seemingly takes to the role of being one of Marvel’s mightiest & most popular heroes like a fish to water. Peter Parker is supposed to be awkward and weird. He did do that well, but he was a little over-brooding for me. One of the things I enjoyed most about Raimi’s Spider-man (#1) was the sequences with Peter learning & feeling out his newfound abilities, and failing at them on a number of occasions. It created a good, humorous nature to the character and to the story. Webb’s reboot didn’t do a bad job at this, but I’ll get back to that in a minute.
[ANDREW]: Let’s take a minute to check out my least favorite part of the previous films and possibly favorite part of this one…the relationship. It’s not forced (probably helped along by the fact that Garfield and Stone are dating in real life). It’s not awkward…well, it’s awkward in that way that high school romances should be. It draws you in. It shows a passion that doesn’t push a sexual relationship. It feels… innocent. All things I never felt between Maguire and Dunst. Stone nails the quirky, attractive first-girlfriend Gwen Stacy and I’m ALREADY sad about [SPOILER ALERT!!!!] her inevitable death to make room for the red-headed Mary Jane Watson (can we petition for recasting Emma Stone and just dying her hair back?).
In comparison to the other movies, I don’t know of anything that Garfield DOESN’T do better than Maguire. From the shy teenager to the awkward transition into power. From the revenge-seeker to the realization of responsibility. From proud to humbled. Our new Peter Parker easily slips into each role. I find myself excited for the possibility of Garfield trying out the Venom story-line. In a subtle way, you can also watch Spider-man grow in his powers and confidence throughout the movie. By the end, he’s doing more showy moves than anything earlier on. That’s some solid directing.
[OGIE]: I did appreciate that the humor was more accessible and provided, in most cases, bigger laughs, than in Raimi’s movies. Much of Raimi’s humor is slap-sticky, and often detracted from the previous films. One notable seen where Spider-man is in the heat of battle with his foe, a librarian (obligatory cameo by Stan Lee) is scanning books in the library with headphones up loud, and the two battling in the background behind him without him noticing proved to be a real high note to me. Also, I felt that Garfield did a better job at being sarcastic and brazen with Spidey’s infamous one-liners and quips. Many of Maguire’s attempts at this felt canned (partially the writing, partially him, in my opinion)
[ANDREW]: I’ve seen several critics say that The Amazing Spider-man is good…but nothing new. In all fairness, I see their point. Nothing in this filmmaking was revolutionary in concept or design. Lots of revitalized and refined web-slinging action but it’s what we expect with mind-blowing movies like The Avengers coming out recently from Marvel. However, as a life-long Spider-man fan who was woefully underwhelmed by all three previous movies (and I shudder to even include 3 in that list), this is the Spider-man movie I wish we had 10 years ago. I am one very happy nerd and will be proud to include this in my Marvel collection. My prayer now is that they build upon this solid foundation for at least two more films and we see Garfield’s Spider-man show up in Josh Whedon’s (please please please) Avengers 2!
[OGIE]: Well, we’d be remiss if we couldn’t find a way to tie this into our lives as Chrisitans, so if you feel like you go enough from it before this point, feel free to leave a (nice) comment and pass it on to others, and they can do the same. If you interested in what I think about the subject, here it comes in 3… 2… 1…
There’s always a really easy connection to make between superheroes and living as Christian: sacrifice for others, protecting and defending the innocent, etc. But to be honest, Spider-man wasn’t really designed to be that guy. He’s a kid, just like we all were (or currently are), trying to find their place. Yes, it’s about accepting responsibility and all that other stuff. But it’s also just as much about realizing that we, no matter who we are, what segment of society we think we’ve been categorized under, or how messed up our families or pasts are, have a purpose. We have a purpose! Part of living a Christian life is realizing that we were never meant to sit idly by and watch life write us out. We are called to greatness. We are the ones who say that we’re not. We are the ones who think that the greatness we live isn’t great enough. The great part of the superhero story is the abilities they come into seem to be unlocked through some great event, but in reality, they were there all along. And so it is with us. We are given a great power and ability in Christ, through the Holy Spirit. We are capable of greatness, enough to move mountains according to what Jesus told us:
“Amen, I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” – Matthew 17:20
Whether it’s being a masked vigilante standing up for New York City, helping at a food kitchen, giving people a word of encouragement, or simply offering a prayer for someone you know (or don’t know) when you’re all alone, we are choosing to live a “super” life… HUH! See what I did there?!?
Anyway… Go see The Amazing Spider-man, and enjoy, true believers!
[ANDREW & OGIE]: EXCELSIOR!!!