The Amazing Spider-Man

A column article by: Ace Masters

 

 

 

Ace’s Note: A few errors, and one glaring error on my part have been pointed out by readers. These errors have been corrected and this column updated. Unlike many writers for other sites, I love feedback. If you, the reader, find an error I want know!

I want to preface the following column with this: I am a HUGE Spider-Man fan.

The Amazing Spider-Man 239 was the first super-hero comic I ever bought. And the first comic I ever bought with my own money (okay, allowance). Even as a child, Spider-Man spoke to me. I loved the character, as a kid he was want I wanted to be and do. As I grew older, I notice how many of the issues I was going through, Peter was, or had, gone through. Peter Parker was always the most realistic character.

The difference is that Peter has an escape from real life that no one else has: Spider-Man.

While I read a plethora of titles now, Spider-Man is solely responsible for my comic book fandom. There was a time when the only comics I read were The Amazing Spider-Man, The Spectacular Spider-Man, Marvel Team-up, Marvel Tales and Web of Spider-Man. The only Spidey title I have never read is Ultimate Spider-Man, because it just didn’t interest me when it began. I don’t care for “reimagined” stories that much.

The reason I preface this is that I know some will read my commentary and proclaim that I am NOT a Spider-Man fan – like some people have already done – because I didn’t fall into the web of the new The Amazing Spider-Man movie.

Is The Amazing Spider-Man worth seeing? Yes it is. It is not, by any stretch of the imagination, a horrible film (such as Jonah Hex or Green Lantern) that needs to be avoided like the plague. What follows is not so much a review of The Amazing Spider-Man, but a commentary on the movie itself. What is good about the movie and what is missing for a real The Amazing Spider-Man movie.

Some things about the movie are amazing:

The effects: Spider-Man’s webbing looks awesome, and how he uses the webbing in the film is impressive. The Lizard himself is amazing.

A genius: Peter is portrayed closer to his comic book personality, which includes him being a scientific genius. While still intelligent and adept at science, Peter’s genius was toned down in the Rami films. Here is it ramped up.

Web shooters – we see web shooters!

Unfortunately, that is where the amazing ends. This is disappointing as those should be a given, NOT high points.

What should be amazing? The story, the characters, the arc the characters go through and how they change and the performances of the actors. Those aspects are what make any story good.

That said acting is the strongest parts of the film. Andrew Garfield embodies a teenage, unsure Peter. Rhys Ifan is excellent as Curt Connors/the Lizard.

True accolades for performances should really go to Sally Field and Martin Sheen. Aunt May was always Peter’s rock, and here, especially at the end of the film, Field delivers. Then there is Martin Sheen.

Martin Sheen truly shines as Uncle Ben. There is no feeling that Sheen is acting in this role, or that he even thinks he is in a “super-hero” film. His performance is pure drama and a wonder to watch. Sheen is the best thing in the movie.

Three things truly bother me about The Amazing Spider-Man, things that have to be there for a “true” Spider-Man film. Were there changes to the mythos of Spider-Man in the Rami movies? Of course there were with Mary Jane being thrown off the bridge instead of Gwen being the major one (and no web shooters). However, the Rami films did include aspects this film left out.

Peter never catches the burglar: Or in this case, the convenience store robber. Yes, the death of Uncle Ben is what drives Peter to become Spider-Man, but unlike every other incarnation, he never catches Uncle Ben’s killer. That huge hole needs to be dealt with in the first story. Not left open to possibly be dealt with later or ignored altogether.

There is no Daily Bugle: No J. Jonah Jameson, no Robbie Robertson and no Betty Brant. Am I the only person who remembers Peter dated Betty BEFORE Mary Jane or Gwen Stacy? We see one token shot of the Bugle newspaper in 135 minutes of film.

“With great power comes great responsibility,” is not in this film. Instead, it's replaced with some clunky drivel about “doing good.”

In an early posting of this column I miss-wrote that Ben Parker spoke those words in Amazing Fantasy 15, 1963. In fact, he didn’t. “With great power there must also come -- great responsibility,” is in the caption in the last panel of the story. This is an error that is embarrassing to me. 

For 50 years, this mantra has been the driving force behind Spider-Man. It is everything to Peter and is what drives him to constantly continue and never give up. Every time Peter has been on the verge of defeat or thought of give up the costume, these words from Uncle Ben have always stirred him forward, even against impossible odds. It is a simple statement, yet powerful. It can be far reaching, yet still personal. And it has transcended Spider-Man and came into a meaning on its own. It has been quoted in movies and TV. in attempts to stir on characters to be something more.

How can you have a Spider-Man film without “With great power comes great responsibility?”

You can’t.

Considering Sheen has the strongest performance in the movie, it is a crime we did not get to hear him say the fabled “With great power comes great responsibility.”

I am sure the general movie going public loves this film, if online reviews from movie fans mean anything. Spidey fans will probably be split.

By that token, it is also a film whose point is moot. Unlike Batman Begins, it doesn’t breathe new life into a film adaptation franchise.

The Amazing Spider-Man is not that far removed from the Rami films that it makes any difference. If anything, it feels tacked on, especially with the use of The Lizard. Since Curt Connors was in the Rami films, this could have been and just as well should have been, Spider-Man 4.

 

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