*SPOILERS AND NERD RANTING AHEAD*
Saw this at midnight last night and I was pretty frustrated by it. It had some gorgeous action and the casting was PERFECT, but the writing was so incredibly sloppy, and it was stuffed full of things that didn't make sense as well as wasted opportunities. I just felt...eh inside. I'm going to nerd about it rant now:
Let me start with what I liked:
The cast. I loved the cast. Andrew Garfield as Spider-man? Perfect. Sarcastic, lanky/skinny, he was nerdy when playing Peter Parker,witty when playing Spider-Man. They could not have cast the role better. Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy? Perfect again. She was cute, charming, funny, made the audience want to date her etc. Martin Sheen and Sally Fields? They were sympathetic, sweet, caring, it was hard to not have my heart go out to them. Rhys Ifans? Nailed the role. I thought he was motivated, sympathetic, and RESTRAINED in his performance as Dr. Connors. All of their perfomances carried the hell out of this movie. I think without this stellar cast, people would have walked out of the theater significantly more disappointed.
I liked that Uncle Ben didn't actually SAY "with great power comes great responsibility." He discussed the concept with more believable dialogue and they let the audience say the line in our heads (which everyone totally did). I thought that was brilliant.
I loved the car thief scene. When this scene went on the internet, it completely sold me on the tone of the movie. Spider-Man was sarcastic, funny, kind of a dick. It was great.
I loved how much time was spent building up Norman Osborn and Gwen Stacy. We all know what eventually will happen between the two of them, so it's good that they started setting up for it early.
The action was great! Not much I can say about that.
Here are the things that I think needed work:
One thing that consistently disappoints me in most interpretations of Spider-Man is how little time is spent letting us get to know Uncle Ben. His death is the PRIMARY MOTIVATING FACTOR in Peter's decision to become Spider-Man, so why do we keep rushing through it? I think AT LEAST more than half of the movie should have been spent with Uncle Ben alive, letting us get to know and care about him and REALLY establishing his relationship with Peter. We as an audience need to FEEL Peter's frustration and grief when Ben dies. We need to be tearing up as Ben tells Peter his last words. As everyone loves to point out, Up made us love and cry over the death of a character in ten f*cking minutes. We need to actively root for Peter and be angry with him as he hunts down the gunman. There was no need to rush it and this is Martin Sheen! Jed fucking Bartlet! He could have had the audience in tears NO PROBLEM with the right script. MAKE US CARE.
Speaking of making us care, the scene where Peter is on the roof and the cranes start aligning themselves to help him get to Oscorp was another example of them getting SO CLOSE but ultimately not doing enough to get us REALLY invested, and consequently wasting another emotional opportunity. This was a scene where Spider-Man should have been at his lowest point. I mean Peter had just been shot, but he barely acknowledged the wound. He should have been limping hard from the bullet, bloody, tired, barely able to stand. We should have FELT his exhaustion. He should have been on the phone with Gwen as she was freaking the hell out, the Lizard stalking through the labs, Gwen desperate to remain undetected, until finally, the Lizard bursts through the wall causing her to scream and her phone to cut off.
Suddenly Peter would be losing it. He's thinking that it's about to happen again! He's about to lose ANOTHER person he loves, but this time he's determined not to let it happen. This is the REAL reason why he's Spider-Man after all. To protect the city yes, but more importantly to protect the people he loves.
So he's battered, shot, bloody, limping, but all he can think about is getting to that fucking building and saving her. Right now, this is the only reason he exists. He's desperate. Except he can't do it because there's no path to Oscorp from where he's standing. He's frustrated, panicked, angry. He doesn't know what to do. He's certain Gwen's about to die and it's all his fault because he can't protect her. And just when he's about to collapse under the hopelessness of the situation, THAT is when all the cranes align in front of him and give him the opportunity to rush forth and save the girl he loves. THAT would have had me at the edge of my seat. It seemed like they were going for something similar but in my opinion, they just did NOT make the situation hopeless enough.
This scene would also serve to set a precedent for what we all know will eventually happen to Gwen. This scene could have been mirrored in the next movie with Green Goblin, except this time there are no citizens of New York to help Spider-Man. No happy ending. A logical build-up to that iconic scene on the bridge with Norman Osborne and Gwen Stacy.
Without intensely raised stakes (at a pivotal moment which, to me, defines what the Spiderman's arc is about), there's no tension and no reason for us to care! At least not enough of it.
As a side note, I think the "lining-up-the-cranes" thing was awkward to begin with. While I liked the idea of Spider-Man inspiring the people he saved to turn around and save HIM, I think it was executed in a manner that felt too contrived and convenient. It needed a little bit more to make us really buy it and not seem as corny and implausible.
In fact a lof of this movie felt incredibly corny and implausible. For example:
Norman Osborn being this shadowy mystery figure. Why? He's the head of a major corporation. He should be calculating, charismatic, and most importantly he should be ambitious. Him hiding in the shadows in the after-credits scene just came off as silly to me. I couldn't take that dude seriously.
EVERYTHING IN THE HIGHSCHOOL. I thought every scene in the high school was retarded. Why? Because that's NOT what bullying looks like, that's NOT how teenagers interact with eachother, that's NOT how a teenaged nerd would stand up to a bully. It felt like someone went out and watched every other super her movie, and then wrote Spider-Man. It's just rehashed rehashings of every high-school-superhero-kid-standing-up-to-the-bully scene you've ever watched.
Also, when a dude named Spiderman appears on t.v at the same time a kid at school throws a football so hard that he dents a field goal post, and quadruple backflip dunks a basketball so hard that he tears off the rim
people are gonna put shit together.
Speaking of idiots in this movie not putting shit together, Peter LEAPT and STUCK to the ceiling in a subway car full of people after he beat the shit out of like 9 dudes in the most absurd example of a New York fight I've ever seen. I can't go in depth with a critique of that scene because the entirety of it was stupid.
In fact, all the I-just-got-powers scenes were lazy as shit. That's probably where I saw the most wasted opportunity, they just copied and pasted from what had already been done.
In general the script was just incredibly corny and cheesy. I think Sam Raimi could have made gold with it, and he would have done so by EMBRACING the corniness. THIS movie seemed like it wanted to have a more believable tone, but the script still seemed like it was intended to be silly and tongue-in-cheek. The tone of the movie conflicted with the script and the result was a mess. A script should have been written that was way more believable to suit the tone of the film.
Now I know it seems like I hated this movie, but I didn't, I just thought it was very mediocre. For some reason, that sets me off more than if it had been outright terrible. This movie had a stellar cast, and they could have done something really incredible if they invested a lot more into a better script. This could have been a knockout but instead the potential was wasted and the movie was forgettable. I hope they continue the franchise with better writing.
I would kill to see Joss Whedon write lines for Andrew Garfield's Spider-Man, especially for Avengers 2. I feel like Garfield's Spider-Man is EXACTLY the kind of character Whedon could do wonders with. I can't imagine how entertaining the banter would be between him and Iron Man.
Also, if you haven't already, watch the BBC show Luther starring Idris Elba. It's incredible. And also watch the Newsroom, the first episode was fanastic!
Listening to: Woodkind - Run Boy Run
Reading: A Dance with Dragons
Watching: The Newsroom
Playing: JOURNEY I WISH