<Special Review: Sailesh Ghelani>
Directed by Marc Webb. Starring Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans, Denis Leary, Martin Sheen, Sally Fields, Irrfan Khan.
With great expectations sometimes come great disappointments. I for one had little expectation from this new fangled ‘remake’. And I was rewarded with those low expectations being met. So I’ve asked some questions that maybe you’d ask and the answers will tell you what to expect if you look at the film objectively.
So, why did we need another Spider-Man with the same old story?
I don’t know. We all already know the story of how Peter Parker gets bitten by a genetically mutated spider and turns from science geek into super freak. But they feel the need to tell us yet again. That annoys me. Simply because they have a rich pool of resources from the comic book universe and they can just start a story from there without establishing the origin story ALL OVER AGAIN!
They said it would be ‘The Untold Story’…
About Peter Parker’s (Andrew Garfield) parents and why they left, and subsequently died in a plane crash. Richard Parker, Peter’s father, was a scientist at Oscorp, the evil company we’re familiar with from Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man with Norman Osborn (played by Willem Dafoe) who turned into the Green Goblin. Now in this reboot the character appears only in name as an ailing tycoon waiting for a serum to save himself. And apart from vague references about Peter’s father there is no ‘untold story’. I guess you’ll have to wait for part 2 and 3.
This version of Spider-Man stays true to the comic books…
Yes, well they have Peter’s original girlfriend Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) in there who is supposed to be the love of his life (and not Mary Jane Watson). Of course, in the comics she is killed off by the Green Goblin (a controversial move that fans weren’t too happy with). But in the movie, this love story isn’t really different in any way even though it takes place in a high school.
Also, unlike Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man where they made him shoot his webbing directly from his wrists (something comic book fans immediately took issue with), director Mark Webb and Marvel have stayed true to the comics where Peter, infused with a spider’s strength and the ability to climb walls, uses his scientific bent of mind to create a substance like a spider’s webbing and fills that into tiny web slingers around his wrists so he can swing from building to construction crane. This also lent itself to some funny situations when he ran out of the webbing and came crashing down from mid air.
So what’s the problem, it seems to be comic friendly and stays true to its roots?
Well here’s the thing. Most people wouldn’t even read comics nowadays and I don’t think I cared in the least if he shot webbing from his wrists or from gizmos. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the cartoons on Sunday morning with ‘Spider-Man, Spider-Man, does whatever a spider can…’ and his spider buddies Ice Man and Fire Star. Those were funny. This film attempts humour but in most places, doesn’t swing it.
So how’s the movie?
Well the movie is all right. Nothing great. I mean I thought it all just went by too fast. There was no time to establish the romance between Peter and Gwen. No time to get into Peter discovering himself. And that whole sequence post-bite is exactly the same as the previous Spider-Man films. In fact, I preferred those. In this film Andrew Garfield just stunt skateboards in an abandoned warehouse and swings from chains. I mean I’ve seen better stuff in a Tony Hawk show.
Then you have ludicrous scenes like this one: Peter finds his father’s leather briefcase in the basement. Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen, looking more like a grandmother) tells him how his father Richard had bought that from Peter’s mother, which is how they met. Peter is tearing up. Aunt May (Sally Fields, with the same pained face she has on Brothers & Sisters ALL the time) says, “Get this off the table and go and wash your hands for dinner.” Talk about being insensitive and cruel.
How’s the CGI and 3D in The Amazing Spider-Man then?
The CGI is okay. The 3D is just as good (or as bad) as it was in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. I didn’t need the 3D glasses for most of the film especially the scenes with Gwen and Peter in them. Only in the finale scene, which is really the only good point in the film, do you really need the glasses. I mean I saw this at Imax and it didn’t do anything for me. So I doubt the 3D is very good. And the CGI is strange at points, almost like you’re watching a cartoon episode with the characters moving weirdly (not human) and the Lizard looking a bit like you want to pull his cheeks at points or tell him not to put so much emphasis on Ps (listen for it: “Poor Peter Parker”).
How is the editing and humara (our ‘Indian’ actor) Irrfan Khan?
There’s a reason editing and Irrfan are in the same question. There’s this one scene, the one they released ‘especially’ for India (I wonder if they do that for actors of other nationalities acting in Hollywood films?) with Irrfan (Dr Ratha) and Rhys Ifans (The Lizard, Dr Connors). If you watch this scene closely (view the clip here), you’ll notice – apart from Irrfan’s horrible pronunciation and line delivery – the editing is horrendous. When you look at it from Dr Connor’s point of view Ratha is looking at him, but if the angle changes to behind Dr Ratha, Irrfan isn’t even looking at Connors. And then notice in one frame Irrfan is holding a vial containing the green serum but when they change the angle the vile is gone from his hand and is on the table. Scary.
So is anything else scary in the film, like maybe some more goofs and errors?
The Lizard is just a CGI character just as Spider-Man is in most of the action scenes. And a CGI character that looks like it’s from a well-made cartoon. What’s scary is that when Dr Connors first grows back his amputated arm with lizard mutated serum, the new slimy ‘hand’ looks like a prosthetic glove. Look closely, you can even see his actual hand inside the translucent flabby glove. Oh the music by James Horner does a lot to make this mediocre film look and sound relatively mysterious and dark.
I remember watching the unseen footage (see the clip here) preview before the film’s release and in the scene where Spider-Man is facing off with a carjacker who pulls a small knife on him, Spider-Man says, “You’ve found my weakness, small knives.” Now they must have had another take, because in the final version of the film, that knife in the unseen footage scene is replaced with a bigger one. So the whole dialogue about ‘small knives’ makes less sense now.
Oh and one more thing: At the end when the big fight scene is over and The Lizard is Dr Connors again and Spider-Man is hanging from the Oscorp building, Connors reaches out with his ‘good’ hand and helps Spidey up. But can’t Spider-Man just stick to the wall and climb up himself?
Gwen Stacy’s dad, played by Denis Leary, dies in the end while battling the Lizard with Spider-Man. Dr Ratha is killed by the Lizard and after the end credits is a scene with the imprisoned Dr Connors talking to a mysterious man (probably Norman Osborn/Green Goblin) in the shadows about Richard Parker. The sequel is set.
In closing I’d like to say I had heaps more fun watching The Avengers (and I didn’t even think that was a great film) and I’d gladly watch the original Spider-Man films with Tobey Maguire, James Franco and Kirsten Dunst a hundred times (yes, even the third one!) before I’d watch this one again. I want something new and original Marvel/Columbia. You can’t put this up in front of The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises.
Oh and one more thing, can we not have so many Sony products thrust in our faces with each and every Sony film? I mean this one had phones, pads, TVs and almost looked like an expensive ad for Sony. Well, the company isn’t doing too well and this film’s lack of polish under a mask of ‘it’s the greatest film with 1000 prints in India’ just can’t be hidden. If you’re willing to look beyond the hype that is. It’s not a bad film, it’s just not a great film. Yes I’m a bit sad about it too.
Check out our Trailer Review and Unseen Footage review of Spider-Man here.