On the whole I thought the movie was really good, however there are aspects of the film that just don’t feel quite right. They aren’t necessarily bad but they just feel a bit out of place in this world and unfortunately stop the film being “amazing”.
I think this is mainly down to the realistic tone of the film; don’t get me wrong I loved the grittier approach, especially when it came to character and emotional pieces. However this tone contrasts quite negatively with the more comic book aspects of the film (Spider-Man’s powers and the predominantly CGI villain choice for example).
I wasn’t a huge fan of the corn-ball type humour in the original Raimi trilogy, but I think they’ve possibly gone too far the other way for realism’s sake here (and you can probably blame The Dark Knight for that). Realism works for a character like Batman as he doesn’t have any super-powers, but Spider-man is automatically a more fantastical character and therefore feels slightly out of place in a “real” world. Funnily enough I think the tone of Marvel’s recent releases would have been more suitable.
I don't really have a problem with them re-telling the origin story so soon after the Raimi trilogy, it feels different enough to justify the re-boot and ultimately wipes the slate clean for future movies.
Anyway that’s my general thought on the film, the rest I’ll bullet point as good and bad: -
- HEAVY SPOILER WARNING -
Spider-Man/Peter Parker – The film nails Spider-Man, in terms of his movement and style of wall crawling/web-swinging, this is exactly how you would envision a real life Spider-Man to move and jump around. On the flipside these mannerism translate perfectly to Peter Parker so you really believe Andrew Garfield as both Peter and Spider-Man (previous films haven’t achieved this half as well). Likewise Peter Parker’s personality is a lot closer to how he is in the comics, he’s still smart but has an aura of cool about him. Tobey Maguire was always a bit too dorky for me and the sarcastic wit was pretty much non-existent. Andrew Garfield is the definitive Spider-Man/Peter Parker.
Action Sequences / Web Slinging - this again relates to the physicality of how Spider-Man is portrayed. The few sequences where we actually see Spider-Man fully swinging through the city streets are incredible, both the real sequences and the CGI assisted scenes. The action scenes are also great, they're not on the same scale as The Avengers but they take full advantage of all of spidey's abilities and are fun to watch. I particularly enjoyed the school and sewer scenes.
Uncle Ben’s Death – Although not as true to the comic version, I felt it was handled much better (from an emotional perspective than the first Spidey film) and you really feel Peter’s pain during and following the sequence. Also (again) slightly changed from the comics, Peter’s initial transformation into Spider-Man is driven more by revenge (than the typical with great power comes great responsibility motivation) which in these circumstances I think is more realistic. The responsibility realisation still comes, but is developed more naturally throughout the character development of the film (so doesn’t feel as cheesy).
Peter & Gwen’s Relationship – This feels more genuine than the relationship between Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst in the previous trilogy, but I guess that’s what you get for hiring the director of 500 Days of Summer.
The Casting - in general every actor is incredibly well cast in the film, playing their respective roles perfectly. I don't think I could say a bad thing about any of the cast or the acting.
The Stan Lee Cameo - a genius bit of film-making which works perfectly in the movie and gives it one of its more comedic notes.
The "Not-So-Quite" Amazing
The Lizard – I think this is more the fault of the films tone than the character himself. It’s odd that for a film that aims to be as realistic as possible, that they chose to use one of the more unrealistic villains which relies heavily on CGI. I think the Lizard would have worked a lot better in one of the Raimi films (who I think was originally being prepped for Spidey 4).
Ignoring that though the characters motivations seem to change half way through the film for no real reason (other than he’s gone mad and is now bad). In the comics Dr. Curt Conners unwillingly transforms into the lizard and loses control, in this version Conners repeatedly and willingly turns himself back into the Lizard (so loses any sense of sympathy). I think something was cut that would of helped explain his motivations more clearly, which leads me onto...
Deleted scenes – I get the feeling that there is definitely an extended cut of the film, as there was a lot of stuff from the movie marketing that’s not included in the final film, including full scenes, phrases and even action shots. Remember the POV shot from the first trailer that was about a minute long of Spider-Man swinging across the city? It’s in the final film but quick cut in to a 10 second sequence?! This is more of a disappointment from myself, but I doubt the regular movie goer would notice.
Editing / Pacing - The pacing feels a bit odd, as the first hour really takes it’s time to establish characters and set-up situations, but the second half skips along. This is the section where the film seems to have the most cuts (re the above points) with characters and story threads just disappearing and being forgotten. Saying that though, the film still feels like a long film so I can see why the cuts were made! But I’d have left the full POV shot in and the football joke that worked great in the advertising.
Unmasking – Seriously for someone whose trying to keep their identity a secret, Spider-Man takes his mask off a hell of a lot (to the point where Peter’s running around his school fully suited minus the mask). I get that the studio want people to believe Andrew Garfield is Spider-man, but as I said previously the mannerisms are so well translated across both alter-egos you fully believe this is the same character. Hopefully in the next film the mask will be left on a bit more!
I know I've listed several bad points, but as I said at the start of this post I did really enjoy the film, the bad points are more slight disappointments rather than actual bad elements.
I think the real potential for this series lies in future instalments and if they stay true to the comics there are some interesting and tragic circumstances leading up for some of the characters.
We still have J.J. Jameson, Norman Osborn, potentially Harry Osborn and maybe some of Spidey's other love interests to be introduced, but I hope they take there time telling the story. If the Green Goblin is going to return, I hope they build to it organically and don't rush him and save him for the third or fourth film.
And let's be honest, if a film leaves you wanting to see the continuation of the story it's done something right!
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