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BlokeBusting The Essentials #49: The Amazing Spider-Man

Your deep dive into the top 100 Superhero films of all time!

#49: The Amazing Spider-Man

Or

We’re Sorry For Emo Peter…

Well, we’re back once more to talk about a film from Bubbawheat’s list. This time we’re focusing on the reboot of Spider-Man featuring Mr Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone and Rhys Ifans. There’s a few things that I will need to bring up here, so I think it’s best if we speed right along!

First Impressions

This film was one that I wasn’t excited about the first time I saw it. Despite the issues most people had with Spider-Man 3, I had no real problems with it other than agreeing that there were too many villains and that Venom was poorly used, so I could have left the Spider-Man films alone and been fine until Tom Holland arrived. However, this film was made and I did end up watching it. And I shall air my issue with how Spider-Man has been portrayed now, since otherwise it’ll simply be an Elephant in the blog.

The Elephant Is Dealt With

Tom Holland does a fantastic young Peter, and is a great Spider-Man, so I am taking the newest iteration off the table for these reviews. Spider-Man and Peter Parker are two sides of the same coin. Spider-Man is quick witted, very loose-lipped and also just fun to watch in a fight. Peter Parker is more of a nerdy guy, less confident in himself and more concerned with how his alter-ego is perceived than himself. The first 3 films has a fantastic portrayal of Peter. Tobey Macguire, in my opinion, was a brilliant Peter. He summed up what I understood Peter to be from what I’d read and watched before I saw the film. Andrew Garfield, however, is awesome as Spider-Man. He’s got the swagger, the quick quips and the physicality. But they both failed to accurately portray the other sides. If you could give me Macguire as Peter while Garfield played Spider-Man, I think you’d have the ultimate combo. That being said, back to the review.

Back To The Review!

See! So, I watched this film once when it came out. And my first rewatch happened about 2 days ago. This film left no real impression on me. I didn’t think that the actors did a bad job, I just thought that the choices they made were kinda dull. The villain could have been handled in a much more interesting way, rather than having him be the guy who just gets overtaken by the experiment that he created (sound familiar, Spider-Man 2 fans?). It might have been cool to see him intentionally turn himself into a part-lizard. That way, he has to choose between his job and his arm, leading him to overdose and turn permanently into The Lizard. The finale could have been a full fight with Peter desperate to get through to his father’s colleague but with his mind finally unable to fully comprehend his actions, Peter was forced to subdue him and then look for a cure. You’ve then got a villain that could be in the background for the next one. But hey, I don’t write the films. I just review them. I also admired the filmmakers going with Gwen as the love interest, following the comics more closely. However, I felt that she didn’t really add much other than to be possibly in danger or to give Peter someone to share his whole self with. And that’s not a bad thing, but in a film like this it’s mostly a trope. And one I’d like to see vanish. Ah well.

Another thing was that we had to follow several plot-lines in the film that kinda muddied the water. You’ve got Spidey starting out, you’ve got Lizard, you’ve got Peter and Gwen getting together, you’ve got Peter finding out about his father’s work. On top of that, you’ve got an (albeit marvelous) Uncle Ben storyline. That was my favourite part of the film. Which was a shame because it was in the first 40% or so of it and kinda sloped downhill from there. And then end of that story-line was a bit poor, especially since rather than directly not stopping the man who killed his uncle (as in the first trilogy), he just stands there. That’s it. Anyway, especially for the first film in a hopeful franchise, you really should stick to a couple of plots and tighten up the writing. OK, griping over!

Things I Did Like!

Before I hop on over to Bubbawheat, here’s a few things about the film that I really did enjoy. That way you don’t think I’m just a grumpy old man. I’m simply a grumpy young man right now…

I did enjoy Spider-Man. He felt more in tone with what I think of when I imagine him interacting with his foes and the general public.

I quite enjoyed Uncle Ben. I felt like he was closer to a realistic father figure than the super-sweet man from the original run.

I liked that Peter had to build his own webbing. I’m sure you can guess why by now.

Ok Mr Wheat, it’s your time to shine!

Bubbawheat here, I also watched this movie when it first came out, but I think I’ve seen it a couple times since and I go back and forth between how much I enjoy it. I remember when it first came out, I placed it just below Spider-Man 2. After watching it again just now it’s gone down quite a bit but I still enjoy the first half of this movie. That’s mostly because that’s where all the best characters and relationships are. Emma Stone and Martin Sheen are the two highlights of this film. It helps that Gwen Stacy is an intellectual equal to Peter and makes more sense that she is attracted to Peter, not only that but the chemistry between the two actors is fantastic. Sheen as Uncle Ben is also great, especially with his interactions between himself and Aunt May. He’s very much the more authoritarian of the two, but you can definitely see that it comes from a place of love. This time around, I actually like how they show Peter breaking the rules early on which is a contrast with how he views things after Ben dies. Things really fall apart in the latter half and Rhys Ifans’s ugly Lizard with poor motivations. There are still good moments here and there, but it’s a poor villain with middling action.

As for the importance to superhero cinema as a whole, this was more or less the first big controversial reboot as it came out a mere 5 years after the latest Sam Raimi Spider-Man 3. They brought in a director who was best known for a genre-stretching romantic comedy (500) Days of Summer and had an overly fitting last name. It was initially considered to be a reboot more true to its comics origins, but ultimately the only real changes that were made were having Gwen Stacy instead of Mary Jane and having his web-shooters be external rather than organic. It’s close proximity to the Sam Raimi films probably led to its less-than-stellar box office where it made less than all three previous films, but still made $757 million worldwide, enough to warrant a sequel and discussions of further expansions of the Amazing Spider-Man cinematic universe with plans for a Sinister Six movie being teased within this movie’s sequel. It was generally well received by critics despite not having the iconic Uncle Ben line “With great power comes great responsibility”.

Alrighty then. On to the sticky business of figuring out the answer to my main 2 questions:

  1. Would I recommend this film to others?
  2. Does it deserve a place on this list?

Well, here we go…

Wait! Before you answer those questions, I’ve thought of a third question to ask for each of these movies moving forward. 3. How would you rank the movies thus-far?

Oooh, that’s a good one! You know what, I’ll put that at the end of the questions. So, in order:

1) No. As it is probably clear from this review, I didn’t enjoy it much. What was there that I enjoyed didn’t save it for me and I wouldn’t tell somebody to watch it. However, I wouldn’t tell them not to watch it. This is one of those films that there’s no really strong opinions for one way or the other, which is a little sad given that the character itself is one of the most interesting characters you can make a film about! So yeah, watch this if you think you’ll enjoy it, but there’s no need to spend time tracking it down.

2) I’m not really sure. It’s an interesting one because I think it does serve as an example of a studio trying to reboot a franchise and not doing terribly at it. There have been some really bad reboots (looking at you Fantastic Four), so in that respect it’s worth a mention. At the very least I would not have this film this high on the list. Maybe mid 80’s would be closer to where I’d place it.

3) I’ll have to go with:

  1. The Amazing Spider-Man
  2. Supergirl
  3. The Wild Wild World Of Batwoman
  4. BVS: DOJ

Overall, this one still fared better than the other three, but I’ll be intrigued to see how it does over the next few reviews!

Well, that’s another review down! So make sure you watch for those Spidey-senses to start tingling. It probably means that you’re cold. What I’m trying to say is keep a jacket nearby, just in case!

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About Hurricane Hawk

I'm a Brit in the US. Yes, my accent is real. No, I'm not from Australia. Oh yeah, I have 2 film podcasts!

Posted on February 15, 2019, in Blokebusting the Essentials and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Reverend Moonshine

    Since you guys mentioned it, I thought I’d comment on the webbing issue.

    I wish someone involved with the script or the production of the original Tobey Maguire Spider-Man movie had talked some sense into them, because no spider I know of has webs that come out of its appendages. If they wanted to make the webbing organic, it would have to come out of another part of his body other than his arms or legs, which would make it even more awkward.

    I guess my point is that it was a detail that didn’t need to be changed from the comics and every other iteration of Spider-Man. Changing it didn’t add anything to the movie, as if they changed it merely for the sake of changing it.

    I like that reboots of superhero stories allow for the tweaking of certain details. It helps make comic book superheroes more like mythological Greek and Roman demigods. My favorite example of this is Superman. In the live action movie starring Christopher Reeve, Jonathan Kent died before Superman reached adulthood, but in the Man of Steel comic book reboot, his father lived to a ripe old age. Yet in The New 52 reboot of Superman, he is an orphan in his teens. These small differences give writers a chance to explore different aspects of Superman’s personality.

    On the other hand, making Spider-Man’s webs organic adds nothing meaningful to the story that couldn’t be achieved another way.

    • I think that the webbing is an essential part of Spider-Man’s character, but how he gets it isn’t. Making it organic in the Raimi trilogy was just a storytelling shortcut to avoid having a scene explaining how he made the webshooters.

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