Okay, so they can make super fun movies about silly Norse gods acting like superheroes, but they can't give us a GREAT Spider-Man flick? What the hell, Hollywood? Yeah, the first two Spider-Man movies by Sam Raimi were only "okay" to "pretty good" in my book. They were enjoyable films, don't get me wrong, but the superhero/supervillain fights in the first one were lame, Peter Parker was a pussy as opposed to just a science nerd, and Spider-Man had no (absolutely NO) verbal barbs to throw at his enemies at all. Spider-Man's raison d'être in the comic books is to mock his enemies relentlessly and get them so pissed off that they mess up. There's barely a quip in either movie... And we should just forget all about Spider-Man 3 and the lanky non-scary Venom, and the rewriting of Uncle Ben's murder, and the shitty emo Parker scenes, and James Franco loving pie (well, okay, that last bit was pure awesome), and the finale of Mary Jane being kidnapped by supervillains... AGAIN.
The Amazing Spidey movie 1
Anyway, whatever. Back in 2012 when the reboot of the Spider-Man saga first hit theaters (in the form of Marc Webb's The Amazing Spider-Man) I was extremely wary of the end product. I knew it was yet another origin story, and the main bad guy was the fucking Lizard, and both those things made me groan. Cupcake and I went to the midnight showing though and came out of it thinking it wasn't all that bad... But the more I thought about it the more disappointed I was.
The plot goes a little something like this, in case you forgot: Peter Parker is a bit of a dweeb. He's an orphaned kid who lives with his elderly Aunt May and Uncle Ben (who used to be a nun and the president of the US of A respectively, once upon a time). Peter is picked on in school and treated like the dork he is by his fellow students, but one day while sneaking into the biogenetic engineering bidness in downtown NYC known as Oscorp, Peter gets bitten by a genetically altered spider, and he gains the powers of an arachnid (but he does have to build his own webshooters, 'cause organic webs are just retarded). He becomes Spider-Man, Uncle Ben gets shot and dies because of Peter's lameness, some Oscorp scientist injects himself with lizard juice and becomes a scaly man with a tail who tries to turn everybody in New York City into lizard people, Gwen Stacy is a hot fellow student of Peter's who gets a lady boner for the web-head, and Gwen's dad, Denis Leary, dies and makes Peter promise never to put his daughter in danger by being Spider-Man around her again because he's just the world's biggest cock-blocker. Oh, and Spider-Man stops the Lizard and everybody is happy! Yay!... Except for Denis Leary who's dead.
There were a few things that the first tAS-M got right, but unfortunately so much more it got terribly wrong. Number one right thing: the action in the movie was always great. Spider-Man actually moved super quick and was bouncing off the walls like a real wall-crawler (something the Raimi flicks never truly accomplished), and the camera angles used to capture his movements were quite inventive. I was impressed. Number two: Spidey had the mouth of a pretty good insult comic. He toyed with his enemies, and even those that were his equal he tossed taunts and quipped put-downs at them like a fucking pro. Number three: Gwen Stacy was perfection on film. She truly was the ideal woman for smarty pants Peter Parker. Number four... Hmmmm. Nope. Just three.
Then there's the things it did wrong. Number one: Peter's parents' backstory. Nobody gives a wubba lubba dub dubs about Peter's parents! Not even Peter. When they tried to introduce that story line in the original comics people got fed up and stopped reading in droves! C'mon, now! You have like 50 years filled with great plots and ideas to pull from, why choose the shittiest aspects of the Spider-Man mythos? All that's ever needed for a Spider-Man backstory is that Peter's parents are out of the picture and his loving (and oooooooold) aunt and uncle took him in and raised him with a sense of honor. The end. Christ!
Number two thing wrong: the Lizard. Oh. My. God. Sooo many great Spidey villains to choose from to start the franchise off with again, and they choose the gheyest of them all? The fucking Lizard? Okay, if you don't want to go with the Green Goblin in the first movie again, I understand, but you have Kraven the Hunter, Mysterio, Electro, Carnage (fuck you, I like Carnage when done right), the Vulture, the Chameleon, Alistair Smythe, the Kingpin... Hell, you get the idea. The Lizard was always a pathetic "villain." He, along with Curly Howard, was just a victim of circumstance. He never had any kinds of grand schemes to do anything evil because he was really just a family man at heart, and a fucking beast when transformed. So first of all the movie people twisted his original character by making him want to carry out a ridiculously retarded evil project on the city (once again, that would be turning everybody in town into a lizard-man like him), but then they added insult to injury by making him look like a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle reject, losing his trademark lizard snout and torn lab coat. Just awful.
Number three thing wrong: Peter never even finds the guy who killed his beloved uncle! This was the WHOLE FUCKING TURNING POINT for his transformation from freak to superhero in the comic book! In the comic, Peter finds the guy and is about to punch his fist through his face when he realizes that it's the same scuzzy sonovabitch that HE personally allowed to get away from the security guards earlier on! That's when he realizes that "with great power yadda yadda yadda," and he lets the guy live instead of doling out some vigilante vengeance killing. Nope. Not in this movie. Sigh.
Number four thing wrong: just about everything else. The tone of the movie is way too serious when it's a tale about a kid who turns into a mutated spider-man and can crawl walls and spin webs any size. And almost every scene takes place in the dark, at night, or in the sewers. Spidey fights perps in broad daylight most of the time! He loves to be seen! The filmmakers seemed to have changed this into a nocturnal flick because Batman. Also the whole finale was soooo pathetic. So the Lizard is launching a cannister of liz-gas high above the Big Apple, Denis Leary shows up to help Spidey stop the reptile freak, Denis Leary gets mortally wounded, and instead of Spidey letting him get a dose of the liz-gas (which can HEAL ANY WOUND on the person it infects) before administering the antidote to the masses, our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man just lets him die. I think "How It Should Have Ended" even pointed out this amazingly bone-headed flaw in the story. Peter Parker is supposed to be a genius, but instead he's borderline mongoloid in this scene. Whatever.
So in the end we had good action, great realization of Spidey, and a fantastic Gwen Stacy. But we also had a strange plot and a lame villain. To me the good slightly outweighed the bad, but not by too much more.
Then I learned that they were making The Amazing Spider-Man 2 with the exact same cast and crew and I got a little worried again. I was hopeful that they'd learn from their own mistakes, but I was not holding my big old American breath.
The Amazing Spidey 2
So, they started off by casting Jamie Foxx as Electro in the sequel. Jamie Foxx is awesome. He's an Academy Award winner and he was fucking Django... This was great news to me. They noticeably lightened up the tone of the film and made it feel more spectacular, which was also a major plus in my mind. Oh, and they brought in that kid from Chronicle as Harry Osborn. I liked Chronicle and thought that Dane DaHaan was good in it, so plus there as well. But then I learned that the Green Goblin and Rhino also would be in the movie as well as Electro, and I started to get the whole Sam Raimi Spider-Man 3 vibe (meaning they were going to crush any sense of flow with an overabundance of villains). Then I wept. Just a little.
In the end I will admit that The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is better than the first movie, but it is still heavily flawed. It has the same good things going for it that the original flick had, but the lightened tone and even more kick-ass fights and snarky web-slinger elevated it from "a decent superhero movie" to "a FUN superhero movie." But.... They really goofed up on some should-have-been-easy choices which hurt my enjoyment of it in the end.
Anyway, tAS-M2 goes like this: So Spidey is still swinging around NYC like a wild and crazy guy, stopping armed heists, kicking criminals' asses, and saving passersby on the street whenever they wander into danger. One of the poor shlupps that the webby guy rescues is Edward Nygma. No, sorry, it's Max Dillon (Jamie Foxx looking like a total gap-toothed, bad-combover doofus), and Max is a brilliant engineer who designed the city's new power grid, but he's a little mentally unbalanced with an unhealthy fixation on Spider-Man. This rescuing by Spidey kind of pushes the guy even further into a strange imaginary world where he and the webhead are pals, but I'll get back to that.
So Peter and Gwen are still kind of going out, but wherever Peter goes (especially when he's in harm's way) he sees Gwen's dead dad, Denis Leary, giving him the ol' stink-eye as if he was saying "Don't you dare put a Spider-Baby in my girl... Oh, and don't kill her like you did me, asshole." Peter ends up freaking and the young couple breaks up... But Spidey keeps stalking her while web-slinging around the city. Nothing creepy about that.
Into this mess comes Harry Osborn, the son of billionaire scientist Norman Osborn who's dying of some hereditary disease that turns one's skin green and one's nails long and black and pointy. Apparently he can afford to run a globe-spanning mega-corporation (Oscorp, dinglefuck), but not a pair of nail clippers. Norman tells Harry that he's not long for this world, and that Harry's a pussy who's going to die of the same disease that is eating him up at the moment, and Harry's all like "Nuh-uh!" But soon Norman dies and Harry sees that he has the strange ailment too and he's all like "Fuck! But at least I have a hot secretary named Felicia Hardy."
Then Max falls into a vat of genetically altered electric eels because it's so goddamn ridiculously funny it couldn't be any other way, and he turns into the cheap-man's Dr. Manhattan. Dr. Manhattan Lite (or should that be Dr. Manhattan Dark because, well, you know) then goes around town sucking up electricity and then releasing it at people who bug him. Then Spidey shows up and glowy Max is all like "Hey! Remember me? You said we were pals, right?" But then a cop shoots him and Max loses the last strand of his sanity and just goes fucking nuts on everybody in the area until fireman Spidey (a great band name) takes him out.
Okay, then we find out that Peter Parker and Harry Osborn are best friends from like 10 years before or some shit even though it was never mentioned in the first movie, and Harry comes to the conclusion that Spider-Man's blood can cure him. Pete's all like "No way, man, that shit'll KILL you! For reals!" but Harry is like, "Nuh uh. Dude, do me a solid and try and get the guy you're always taking pictures of for The Bugle to give me some life's milk, bitch!" Then Spidey disses Harry by not stopping at the blood bank and then everybody's pissed at everybody else.
Then Harry's booted out as CEO of Oscorp, he frees Max from the psych prison he's in, and together they team up to get Oscorp back for Harry, and kill Spidey for both of them because that's what bad guys do.
Oh, and Gwen's moving to England for school, and bad shit happens all around.
My BIGGEST issue with The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is that it's too lazy most of the time. Max's decent into supervillainy is a direct rip-off of the Riddler's origin in the shit-tastic Batman Forever. It's just awful how they don't even copy a GOOD source story. Oh, and they also completely rip-off Dr. Manhattan as well, only Max's Electro is not a quarter as awe-inspiring or cool.
My second biggest issue is that they rub Peter's parent's tale in our faces way too much with this chapter in the cinematic Spidey universe. Goddammit! NOBODY GIVES A SHIT! They try to tie in the spider that bit Peter with his missing super-scientist parents, but it's just, god! It's just too much screen time for something that isn't the slightest bit important to the overall scheme of things. Show us Peter finally catching Uncle Ben's killer, or the deleted scenes of Peter and Mary Jane shooting the shit and riding around town (see the pic of MJ sitting her hot, hot, hot ass on the bike above) instead of this drivel!
My third biggest issue is shoe-horning in the plot point of Harry and Peter being bestest friends despite neither having seen the other for over ten years. They're 18 and 20 years old respectively. If I haven't heard or seen an old friend in ten years I would not consider them my best friend after that, let alone if I was only 18 and ten years was more than half my fucking life. It just seems so forced, and a clever writer could have easily come up with a better way for Pete and Harry to meet.
I DID like all the cameos of Spider-Man characters peppered throughout the movie though. I'm not talking about seeing Doc Ock's tentacles or the Vulture's wings in statis capsules, no. I'm talking about Felicia Hardy, Alistair Smythe, and Donald Menken having bit or semi-substantial roles in the flick. It was fun to see them and be like "HA! I know that guy... I know that guy.... He's in the comic books. Yeah. I'm cool."
I also loved Emma Stone's Gwen Stacy again. She's even better in this film than she was in the original. And Denis Leary leering at Peter in all those scenes was fucking great too. All in all, it was an improvement, but it wasn't enough to be a great movie.
Oh, and as everybody and their parents are complaining about, the whole "This movie is just an obvious set-up for The Amazing Spider-Man 3 and The Sinister Six flicks!" attack, well, it's not as bad as the most vocal are making it out to be, and in the end, that's all franchise films seem to do anymore anyway. Nobody was bitching that The Hunger Games 2 was just a lead up to The Hunger Games 3. Nobody bitches and moans that The Game of Thrones season 3 was just a lead-up to season 4. We fucking KNOW that they're planning for the next sure-to-be financially successful installment! That's called business, and it's nothing new. Chill the fuck out.
So I was skeptical that any sort of Spidey re-telling would be worth the ten smacks you've gotta cough up to see a movie on the big screen. Sam Raimi's Spider-man was alright. Coulda been a little less CG cheesetastic but hey its comic book-based right? So I'll let it slide a little. The second was ruff. And the third actually left me in shock it was so bad. How did Spidey go from web-slinging ass-kicker to Emo, make-up wearing wall crawler that dances to disco cliches? If you also saw the third Abomination of Spider-man you too may feel the slight hesitation to shell out for a ticket to see Peter Parker's return to the silver screen. DON'T! Spider-man delivers; it's not only better cinematically (the camera moves better and so does Pete). It is overall a better, action packed and more believable Spider-man than any previous attempts.
Oh, and I liked the second one too. Same good stuff, only that Rhino mecha was just an odd choice. I really liked how the Green Goblin didn't wear a mask in it too, it was just a scary, diseased face. To me that was much more terrifying than Willem Dafoe's Green Goblin helmet in Raimi's movie, but Willem without the mask was scarier than anything else.
Arrrrrrrrrrr. Blow me bottom, not another Spider-man movie! Oh, seven hells, TWO new Spider-man movies. Arrrrrrrrrrrrrr. No, me maties. The Skipper'll be skippin' this lot. Me and Spidey go way back, and the story ain't be good. It's filled with rum, webs, red-heads, puking, fisticuffs, octopi, and blow. LOTS of blow. Arrrrrrr, it din't end well for nobody. Just leave it be.