MovieBob - Intermission

With Great Power …


It’s no secret that I’m not at all on board the hype train for The Amazing Spider-Man – the franchise reboot Sony has launched to stave off losing the movie rights to the titular wallcrawler to Marvel Studios. I may or may not be predisposed to look askance at it, given how pointless and cynical I find the notion of a reboot a mere five years after the third one, but I have to posit that I’d look on it more favorably if it didn’t keep looking so awful.

First there was the teaser, which you’ll recall I wasn’t nuts about. Now there’s a full-blown theatrical trailer, which looks a lot better visually, but is still packed with nagging red flags.

I’ve had some thoughts on it already elsewhere; but as we’ve done in such cases before let us go through this beat-by-beat:

0:07 – It is, apparently, a rule that all action movie trailers must now open with a bird’s-eye-view of New York accompanied by a blare from the Inception-brand Industrial Trumpet. BWWWAAAAAAAAAAAAHMM!

0:08 – 0:10 – Interesting that it cuts right to Spider-Man as though we’re supposed to have been expecting him. Nice change of pace from the usual “generic-explosions-oh-no-wait-it’s-a-superhero” routine of these trailers, but does little to dispel the sense that it’s still too soon to be remaking this movie.

0:11 – 0:16 – Andrew Garfield is Peter Parker. Emma Stone is Gwen Stacy. MovieBob is wondering why Peter Parker, who has lived in New York his entire life, chooses to dress like every hipster who just moved to Greenwich.

0:18 – 0:20 – Family dinner with Gwen Stacy’s family. That’s Denis Leary as Gwen’s father, and NYPD Captain. In the comics (“ITC” from here on out), he was a wizened older gentleman and a single father. Here he seems to have been reconfigured into an expy of Gary Oldman’s Jim Gordon (I get the sense that’ll be a running theme), and Mrs. Stacy appears to still be alive. I like the potential dynamic of the Stacys as the “normal family” Peter didn’t really have, though.

0:20 – 0:24 – Most prominent change from the original films so far: Peter is building his own mechanical webshooters, instead of just having them as part of his powerset. This is a good idea, though I’m wondering what the point of the accompanying red laser-blast effect is.

0:26 – This version of Spidey has clearly attended the same Pointlessly Elaborate Graffiti For Superheroes learning-annex course as Ben Affleck’s Daredevil. Also, for various reasons, the presence of a hoodie anywhere near Spider-Man is a red flag for me.

0:28 – 0:32 – More evidence that Captain Stacy has been entirely revised for this telling of the story – ITC, he was one of the few authority figures on Spider-Man’s side. That’s not the case here, and also seems to explain why J. Jonah Jameson apparently isn’t in this version: They’ve already got their “Spider-Man is a menace!” foil.

0:33 – Hard-cut from Gwen Stacy to a bridge. Cute.

0:34 – 0:40 – One of the curious things about the Sam Raimi movies was that, while Raimi loves to employ the wisecrack-spouting hero trope, he actually dialed back on it for Spidey – the character that practically invented the routine. Here it is in the reboot, and it doesn’t work.

The problem, as ever, seems to be that Spidey lacks facial features. In comics and animation you can cheat that a little bit, in order to convey subtle cues as to how the spider-witticisms are supposed to be taken. But here, in live action, it’s just flippant snark accompanied by frantic head-bobbing pantomime, like Dane Cook playing a Power Ranger.

0:41 – 0:42 – Ah, so that’s what the mini firebursts from the webshooters are for – so they’ll make little gunfire noises when he uses them.

0:43 – I hate the redesigned costume (too busy, too much blue, etc.) but I can live with it. The darkened eyes need to go, though. Maybe it’s just because most of this seems to take place at night (because if you’re going to turn Spidey into Batman, you might as well go all the way) but they make him look like a villainous clone or something. That he’s doing the Michael Meyers masked-killer-head-tilt thing isn’t helping.

0:45 – 0:48 – Black-and-white = flashbacks, at least in this trailer. That’s Young Peter saying buh-bye to his biological parents, Richard and Mary. The teaser trailer had a lot more with them, but their presence worries the crap out of me.

ITC, it was decided at some point that The Parkers had actually been secret agents tied in to all manner of superhero/villain skullduggery that later involved Peter. It was as dumb as it sounds, easily one of the dopiest retcons for a character who’s seen plenty, and pretty much any story where it’s come up since has been a stinker.

0:51 – I assume this is Flash Thompson.

0:52 – Title Card: “HIS PAST WAS KEPT FROM HIM.” Oh, no. No, no, no, no, no. Please don’t do this.


0:54 – 0:57 – The teaser showed that a lost briefcase belonging to Richard Parker was a big plot point in this. Now, we see what was inside: an OsCorp key-card.

Ugh. They’re really going to do this.

0:57 – 1:00 – Rhys Ifans as Dr. Curt Connors, who was Peter’s dad’s research partner at OsCorp. Good casting, moronic plot turn … and it’s about to get worse.

1:04 – 1:07 – So, just so we’re clear: Richard Parker and Dr. Connors were working on the mad-science stuff that will soon turn Connors into The Lizard. How much do you want to bet it’s also what turns Peter into Spider-Man? And they’re doing this while working for the corporation owned by the guy who everyone and their grandma knows eventually becomes The Green Goblin … AND (according to the teaser) Gwen Stacy works there, too! Ye gods, not even the average episode of All My Circuits has this many coincidental legacy relationships.

1:09 – 1:11 – Good Will Slinging. The implication here is that Parker The Younger has inherited his dad’s science wizardry and has now inherited his place at Connors’ side. Because when you think “bold new ideas in genre fiction,” you think “heroic paternal legacy.

1:12 – 1:15 – Lizard’s origin seems to be otherwise the same: Connors has one arm, tries to imbue himself with a reptile’s ability to regenerate lost limbs, turns into a monster instead.

1:16 – 1:19 – Hopefully this CGI is far from finished, because right now The Lizard looks like something that wouldn’t cut it in one of the Resident Evil movies.

1:21 – 1:26 – Gotta admit it, the web-slinging FX look overall better than they did in the previous films. Hate the look of the guy doing the slinging, not feeling the world he’s slinging through, but good FX are good FX.

1:29 – Slightly better look at The Lizard, whose proportions are disappointingly human. Hoping he’s not fully changed here.

1:31 – Looks like they’ll be taking care of “Gwen, I’m Spider-Man” right out of the gate. Interesting. Also: “I’ve got to stop him … because I created him.” I assume the idea is that Peter got that chalkboard formulation wrong (or maybe it could never have been right?) and hence The Lizard.

1:36 – 1:48 – Spidey versus cops. I like it – solid hand-to-hand action chops.

Incidentally,what is the deal with Andrew Garfield’s hair in this? Is “naturally-replenishing mousse” part of the Spider-Powers package now?

1:51 – I’ll say this: It takes some balls to call a five-years-later retread of an origin story everyone knows “The Untold Story” – especially when the “untold” part seems to be this dopey revisionist stuff with the parents. Speaking of which, it’s flashback time again.

1:52 – Someone in the flashbacks is keeping a decorative spider under glass. Richard Parker? The next present-day shot (also seen in the teaser) shows a big mad-science machine crawling with spiders. Is he responsible for the super-powers and the spider connection, specifically? That’s definitely what it looks like, and that’s incredibly lame.

The whole chosen one/this-was-meant-to-be thing is ridiculously played out in this genre, whether it’s literal predestination or symbolic coincidence like here. A huge part of the Spider-Man story is that it was an accident that could’ve happened to anyone, and this largely negates that. (And yes, I know this is largely lifted from Ultimate Spider-Man. It was lame there, too.)

1:55 – 1:57 – The Lizard’s design is incredibly boring (yes, keeping the white labcoat would help) but that’s not what’s bugging me. What’s bugging me is Connor’s acting all evil in what looks to be human form. He’s supposed to be a full-on Jekyll & Hyde pastiche, going back and forth between human (good) and Lizard (bad), but it looks to me like they’re going the “Brundlefly” route, where he’ll go bad right away and gradually mutate over the course of the film.

1:59 – 2:06 – I wonder if it’s intentionally ironic that Captain Stacy declaring Spidey a “masked vigilante” is intercut with scenes where he’s primarily un-masked?

2:07 – If nothing else, Emma Stone is a dead ringer for 60s-era Gwen Stacy.

2:09 – And so begins the customary “20 seconds of random action clips” ending to every action-movie trailer ever.

2:14 – Yeah, I’ll admit it – the oldschool fanboy in me loves that they remembered to have Lizard grab Spidey with his tail.

2:19 – 2:24 – Spider-Man and Lizard fighting on a giant crumbling skyscraper antenna. I have a feeling it’s significant to mention that, ITC, Captain Stacy dies from being crushed by falling rubble during a Spidey-versus-baddie rooftop rumble. Make of that what you will.
Speaking of deaths, anyone else notice that Uncle Ben’s death doesn’t seem to figure in this trailer? Like, at all? Is that not going to happen in this one (or maybe it comes at the end?) They wouldn’t screw around with the most important part of the origin-story, would they?

Egh, I dunno. I don’t want this to look bad. I want to like this. I hate the idea of hating a Spider-Man movie. But the last time I got this bad a vibe from a movie’s own pre-release promotional materials was Green Lanternand we all know how that turned out.

About the author

Bob Chipman
Bob Chipman is a critic and author.