Aaaaah….Summer. It means Will Smith, popcorn with loads of butter, over-priced tickets, and a string of “blockbusters”. It’s true that Hollywood studios make their bank for the year off of the Summer season. You can look it up for yourself, if you’d like. Summer is a time of escapism inside your local Cineplex. Get out of the heat and inside the near-freezing & hushed atmosphere of the movie theater. And so it is no surprise to anyone these days that the Summer movie season is chock-full of the ultimate escapism in today’s cinema: the super-hero film.
My wife said it best when she 1st saw this trailer: “they’re re-doing Spider-Man, already?!”
Here’s the quick of it: Sony Pictures owns the rights to Spider-Man as a film entity. The 1st three Spidey films (shockingly known as “Spider-Man”, “Spider-Man 2”, and – GASP! – “Spider-Man 3”) were directed by Sam Raimi and starred Tobey Maguire, and they were released respectively in 2002, 2004, and 2007. That franchise came to a skidding halt when the studio applied too much creative control over devoted Spider-Man fan Raimi’s upcoming “Spider Man 4”. Raimi wanted to do a Spidey villain that the studios didn’t agree with. Well, Sam walked away from the franchise, and with him went Maguire and his co-star Kirsten Dunst. Sony decided it didn’t need them and wanted a fresh start, hence the re-boot now.
For comic fans you know what’s wrong with this film without even seeing it. The phrase muttered most often when exiting the theater is “too much Ultimate Universe”. That’s geek-speak for “not the original storyline”. For a more realistic approach to the film’s release, see my wife’s reaction I mentioned above. That sums it up. Why was this film made? Answer: to keep Marvel Studios from owning the rights to this cash-cow of a franchise. Regardless of what anyone says about this film from a critique perspective, no one can deny that truth – and that’s pathetic.
So, I will run through this pretty quick. Andrew Garfield (from “The Social Network”) plays a pretty cocky version of Peter Parker. That was a departure from the version I know (which Tobey Maguire played pretty well, I thought). Emma Stone (last seen in “The Help”) plays Gwen Stacy, Parker’s love interest – in high school. Okay, she is one talented actress because I believed she very well could have been in high school. Garfield, not so much. Anyway, the chemistry between them is good and plays well on the screen, but Parker just never would have acted that way, in my oh-so-humble opinion. He just isn’t that good with the ladies – at least not until his college years. Okay, so this is the version Sony is selling and I should just move on, right?
There’s just one problem with that – Spider Man is like an institution, an icon, and not JUST a character from a book that is now on the big screen. Tack on to that the recent treatment of said-icon in 2002, 2004, and 2007. Aside from some minor glitches in the storyline, those were pretty faithful to the original material. And so, my argument is that people are VERY fairly with how Spidey is supposed to be presented and when you change that, it makes the audience less appreciative of the work.
Was it a good escape? Sure! Was it worth what I paid for it? Yes, but I didn’t pay even half of what full price was. Spider-Man looks great and there’s a lot of very nifty Spidey acrobatics and stunt work. The CGI is incredible in this film, without question. The actors are good, and I enjoyed the Lizard as the villain. However, could you not make him have a human face? That seriously bugged me, because it looked goofy, not scary. The plot was decent and I enjoyed it, but it is NOT the Spider-Man we all know and love. My wife summed it up perfectly, and I think any Spidey fan will concur, this film should not have been made for another 10 years at least.
Do yourself – and for you die-hards, do it for Marvel Studios – a favor, skip this one and go and see “The Avengers” again!
…and that’s it for this edition of THE REEL VOICE.