Ok, consider this your spoiler warning since I’m too lazy to try to edit myself and think about what might be a spoiler. But, seriously, people, it’s already been out a week. Also, Bruce Willis has been dead the whole time, she drops the necklace in the ocean at the end, and the next villain is Thanos.
I drove to the Movies 10 in Nelsonville, Ohio, with dread stinking up my Fit worse than the Island Margarita air freshener I had just put in it. (Seriously, I know I should have thought of this before, but now my car smells like the patio at Don Pablo’s during happy hour.)
I just did not want to see The Amazing Spider-Man (Hereto forth called TASM because it’ll help distinguish between the different movies. Also, I do not feel like typing the name multiple times.).
Let me break the “why” for you down by the numbers.
I worked at a movie theater selling tickets from ages 16-21. For those of you counting on your fingers, that’s five years. For the first couple of years, a screen made of nine large television screens lorded over the lobby.
It would play previews, commercials, and music videos associated with movies. All told, it was probably a 15-minute loop, and I worked eight-hour shifts, with a half-hour break. I saw that loop approximately 32 times during my shift.
In 2001, I saw my first preview for Spider-Man. I promptly lost my shizz and watched it 32 times a shift for the next few months (Approx. 832 times) until it came out and shot rainbows directly into my soul. I saw it nine times. I saw Spider-Man 2 11 times. Keep in mind I had unlimited free movies for my friends and I, and I had very little imagination for or desire to get in trouble, so this isn’t as sad as it sounds. I was a geekling, blossoming under the warm glow of the cinema.
I really liked Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man movies, the first and second are among my favorite movies of all time. Only the soul-crushing despair of emo, jazz-hands, woman-beating Spider-Man in the third film could destroy my joy (Sidenote: I saw this movie on an early date with Mike. Coincidence? Clearly not. Mike, I blame you and our shared love for Spider-Man 3.)
Back to the present.
So, I got my ticket, looked up at the movie times screen and saw….Spider-Man 4. Even though I knew the movie was really TASM, that was how I felt. I was going to see a continuation of a movie that had wished I had never seen about halfway through it.
But I didn’t. I liked it.
Halfway through, during a webslinging sequence, I spontaneously and joyously thought how much I love Spider-Man movies. I want to see it again. After I rewatch Moonrise Kingdom and Magic Mike (You could wash a shirt on those abs. Whose? All of them. Also, I’m 78 percent sure Matthew McConaughey supplied his own wardrobe.) Still, I want to see it again.
The direction of TASM was more conventional – but what isn’t more conventional than Raimi? He would shoot your wedding like a B-movie, complete with transitions that would make George Lucas weep with envy. TASM was also visually darker, making me revel in my decision not to see it in 3D. After struggling to make sense of Thor‘s muddy images on Jötunheim, I avoid the format whenever possible.
The leads are stronger too. Andrew Garfield has less of that infuriating stink of “Young Hollywood” that was attached to Toby McGuire. I think it’s because he’s British and they use the metric system. Emma Stone makes Gwen Stacey a delightful foil. She acts as a one-woman Greek chorus, narrating the thoughts of the women in the audience. Or, you know, this woman. Yes, he’s supposed to be 17 in the movie, but the actor isn’t, so stop with all your judging, you Judging Judys.
Like Bill Clinton in ’92, Uncle Ben says everything but what we want him to say. The script does a softshoe that would make Sammy Davis, Jr. jealous around, “With great power comes great responsibility,” and Spider-Man 2‘s theme that intelligence is a gift to be used for the good of mankind.
They freaking never say it in those words though! It’s a verbal chimera spoken by the guy from Apocalypse Now and Charlie Sheen’s dad. It isn’t necessarily bad, but it’s been done better.
A shortcoming, the plots hit the same beats at the same time. Yes, the basic story (Orphaned boy photographer cum scientist is bitten by a magic spider in a lab, loses his uncle because of a fit of pique and becomes a hero to New York.) will always be the same in the first films. I get it. But, let me lay it out for you:
- Rogue scientist as Oscorp takes Peter on as a protégé
- Scientist’s funding is cut, so he must experiment on himself with disastrous (and green) results
- New York’s bridges are the most dangerous places to be during any sort of villain attack
- Peter makes promises to dying people who have just been stabbed through their middles
- In the end all the father figures are dead or worthless (see Mary Jane’s abusive father), and the mother figures have to take over
Oh, and James Horner, you may have scored Titanic and Braveheart (which I know because those are the movies that pop up first on your IMDB page), but my brain kept playing Danny Elfman’s score over the opening credits and webslinging scenes. Sorry, but that little Oingo Boingo fella is just what Spider-Man sounds like to me.
But, I liked it. I pitched this article as a humorous discussion of my inevitable heartbreaking disappointment with the film. Instead, what have before you are the stream of consciousness ramblings of someone who was absolutely taken by surprise by a high school kid who crawls on walls.