I love SPIDER-MAN, the character. Peter Parker was always the alter-ego that I held dear to my own. He just couldn’t seem to catch a break and when he did, it would only lead to greater loss and pain. This can never be expressed more deliberately than through the saga of Gwen Stacy.
This isn’t that final leg of the story, it’s the start. Peter and Gwen are flirting with one another. Both nervously hoping that the other will give them the time of day, but even if they do, what the fuck do you say? Emma Stone’s Gwen Stacy is some sort of miracle for me. I love her. I’ve always liked Emma Stone, but here… with the blonde locks, the hair band, the mini-skirts and the awesome variety of boots that she wears… well, it’s as though she pulled herself off the 4 color inked pages and was delivered on screen intact.
For me. That’s enough right there. If only to see one film that contains the soul of a character that I fell in love with. I loved Gwen Stacy. One of the benefits of growing up in a house filled with complete runs with duplicates of pretty much everything in the silver age… it meant I read these stories in order. That’s how I read SPIDER-MAN.
One of the problems I’ve always had with Hollywood is that they’re always in a rush. They want to get to the big story point that everyone knows. OR even worse they get ham-fisted and try to improve origins by creating a ludicrous amount of intersecting pieces that make the story TOO FUCKING CONVENIENT. Problem with a story that’s too fucking convenient is that you just don’t believe it. That wasn’t a problem with THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, they’re seeding a multi-film arc that is really going to be something special if they keep the casting & team behind the camera intact. But I feel some folks are seeing that problem with this film. There is a bit of “The Joker created BATMAN” BS from the Burton world – which I’ve always hated. But it is still hidden in shadow, we don’t know what character is yet responsible for the creation of Spidey’s whole situation. But they suggest that in the next film we will.
My overall feeling about THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN is that I genuinely like the movie, I absolutely love Peter, Ben, Aunt May, Gwen Stacy and Captain Stacy. When the movie is fully in those elements, it is shining and I’m smiling like a monkey. I also love the battles and encounters between THE LIZARD and SPIDER-MAN. The fights are so much more Spidey-like to me, and finally an inhuman full on monster villain fighting Spidey!
Andrew Garfield’s Peter Parker & Spider-Man, for me, are far far far closer to what Peter Parker and Spider-Man have always been in my mind. Changing Peter’s origin story worked with the familiar elements – but rewriting Uncle Ben’s immortal lines, it’s like doing Hamlet without TO BE OR NOT TO BE… there’s some things that certain characters must say, talking around the better line only makes you want to cue the actor from your seat. He has a bit of a bratty streak, he does have abandonment issues – and that works well for pre-incident Parker. But the whole parental mystery and the sinister mysteries of OsCorps just didn’t hold my attention. The whole time the story goes in that direction, I’m thinking I wish we were just on a date with Peter and Gwen.
WHAT? I wanted more romance? Yes, I do. You read those old comics and they were all about the angst of being a nerd in a Jock environment – of having girls you can’t believe were interested in you, being interested in you. (Pretty much sums up my whole dating life) I could have used a second dinner at the Stacy residence, but one that went really well with Peter – where he became more invested in Captain Stacy. Captain Stacy was one helluva man in the comics. Dennis does a great job with him, but he is definitely not a very sympathetic man in the film. He’s more Commissioner Gordon than anything. But be assured, it’s Captain Stacy through the film.
One of the big problems with the missing mom & dad story – and the Evil OsCorps stuff… it takes us away from what the real meat of the film could have given us. More alone time with THE LIZARD. I could have gone for Alligators in the sewer, quasi worshipping him as he monologues about how the cold blooded dominance of Earth had been suppressed for 65 million years, but that a Reptilian Renaissance would lead to a new age of the Lizard. Giving a scene like that to Randall Cook, would have resulted in a scene worthy of his Gollum fx legacy – we just were not given enough of it. That THE LIZARD spoke was fantastic, I just wanted more and more character moments with him, when he wasn’t being overtly evil, but manic. Ya know? He’s a Lizard Human and I love it when The Lizard talks to himself and reasons with himself.
I needed THE LIZARD to pull a couple of jobs, headed towards his plan, the Midtown School incident just felt wrong to me. The action was wonderful, Stan Lee has an amazing featured scene. His best yet! I needed to have Peter try to figure it out, all while trying to date the Captain’s daughter. In fact, I would have preferred it had OsCorps had nothing to do with the film, Curt Connors or Spider-Man’s origins or being involved in his parents’ disappearance.
Had the film focused on Parker discovering and mastering his new self, beginning his relationship with Gwen, his lesson, the emergence of Spider-Man, Curt Connors’ involvement with Peter, his transformation, Police hunting both, and the end of the story – it’d been spectacular. They would’ve had more room for Peter & Gwen & her family, more room for THE LIZARD and just less unnecessary BS.
I know, that sounds like I didn’t enjoy it – I really did though – an awful lot. It’s a very emotional story if you know the story. BUT there’s a couple things holding me back from just unabashedly loving it. I’ve already talked about the plot issues. But James Horner… Dammit. He scores the romance impeccably, but his music never races my pulse – that’s just the jaw dropping cinematography and action in the film. We do not have the great SPIDER-MAN theme that none of us have yet heard, but all of us have wanted. I know that’s a small issue, but really… it isn’t. Had this film captured SPIDER-MAN’s spirit encapsulated in musical form as Williams did for SUPERMAN and Elfman did for BATMAN… it would have made me overlook the OsCorps & Parental Mystery completely.
By no means is this film as problematic as SPIDER-MAN 3, by no means. The movie is actually more along the lines of SPIDER-MAN 2… just not that consistent. I’m not in the middle on this one. I can’t wait to take my nephew. He’s gonna love it. Scorekeeper absolutely fell in love with the film. Father Geek liked it a lot. I understand some of the hate for the film. We’re at the point in Superhero Genre filmmaking where doing radical redesign to classic costumes isn’t necessary. Where monkeying with key story elements integral to the character can cause raging. And still… there are some folks that just don’t like Andrew Garfield. I LOVE HIM! I love his take on Parker. Mainly I love the chemistry between him and Gwen/Emma! Box Office-willing, I would kill for 5 more movies all with Emma as Gwen. Stop thinking in trilogy form. Make the world love her more than we ever have loved any Superhero Girlfriend. That’s the character. Make us dream of their old age together. This is such a great start. Teach a new generation what a great BF/GF film relationship is. Then show them how much love can hurt. It’d be amazing! I can be amazing. This is almost amazing.