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Peter T Chattaway

The Amazing Spider-Man

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Don't forget Warner's turn as Bob Cratchit opposite George C. Scott in A CHRISTMAS CAROL.

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I am starting to think the reboot might have been a terrific idea.

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I am starting to think the reboot might have been a terrific idea.

Seconded.

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I love that Peter Parker has a REAR WINDOW poster in his bedroom.

And yes, I think this reboot looks great. I've probably said this before, but with comic book films I think of it as less a reboot, but like when they change writers and artists in the comics. (Though it looks like there isn't any continuity with the Raimi series).

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Honestly...the idea of switching creative teams every so many movies is appealing to me more and more. I like the idea of letting a particular team tell the stories they feel compelled to tell for, say, three films, then starting with a new team who has the option of continuing the established universe or taking a new approach (though, not always going back to "the origin story". For example, if I were to reboot Superman, I would present the origin in under 5 minutes and jump to some early point in Superman's career).

And I have to say...I love the bit with the mask right there at the start. Based on what I have seen, Webb has captured the character of Spidey even better than Raimi. Maybe the film will actually fall short...but so far? I am getting more and more excited.

Edited by Nezpop

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So, will this movie at all connect to the rest of the Marvel cinematic universe?

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No, it is not under the Marvel Studios banner. One of the reasons the Amazing Spider-Man happened is Sony did not want to lose the film rights to the character, and they were having trouble coming to terms with Raimi for a Spider-Man 4... had that fallen apart, they would have lost the rights with nothing else in developement.

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Chris Lough of Tor.com loves it:

Let’s get this out of the way before anything else: The Amazing Spider-Man is really good. It’s an extremely solid, well-acted movie that earns every moment. It makes the first three Spider-Man movies feel like camp classics and, like The Avengers, it earns a comic book readers’ trust in how it handles its story and its characters, even though the circumstances are different enough that you actually don’t know what comes next.

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Nick Shager doesn't love it. (At present, my only comment is that I made the same connection to Footloose.)

The new never overshadows the familiar in this CG-amplified tale, so that even though the fiend this time around is Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans), an armless scientist who, in trying to regrow his arm, becomes the malevolent Lizard, his relationship to Parker—both as a human mentor and a monstrous enemy—is woefully similar to that shared between hero and villain in Raimi's superlative Dr. Octopus series entry, Spider-Man 2.

Despite persistent talk about "responsibility," even after Uncle Ben meets his preordained demise thanks to Peter's lack thereof, there's no sense of the teenager truly coming to grips with the obligations forced on him by his powers; rather, such ideas are trotted out more like dutiful concessions to character fidelity, an impression that also extends to the guilt Peter feels over both Ben's death as well as his role—via a scientific equation that doesn't work out—in creating the Lizard.

As Parker, Garfield nails not only adolescent insecurity, but also cockiness, with the latter amusingly extending to his masked derring-do, during which he cracks wise with a sarcasm that's a welcome nod to the character's smart-alecky origins. ... So often is it rehashing moments already handled expertly by Raimi's films (such as Peter's bullying spats with Chris Zylka's school bully, Flash), or reimaginaging signature events with leaden goofiness (Parker first gets the idea to swing via rope in a boat-warehouse scene weirdly reminiscent of Footloose) that Amazing Spider-Man never takes flight. Even in a finale in which construction workers maneuver cranes to give Spider-man a means of swinging to the Lizard, the notion of New Yorkers (including Denis Leary's initially anti-Spidey police chief) banding together to fight a common enemy plays like a feeble photocopy of Spider-Man's evocation of New York's post-9/11 unity—in the process making Webb's do-over feel an uninspired idea short.

Edited by SDG

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A question for fans of the Spider-man character: In the comics, does he make jokes while he's subduing criminals? Is he supposed to be a cut-up in some sense? I can't remember if he was treated as such in the Raimi version.

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A question for fans of the Spider-man character: In the comics, does he make jokes while he's subduing criminals? Is he supposed to be a cut-up in some sense? I can't remember if he was treated as such in the Raimi version.

Yes, that is a part of the character in the comics. It played a small part in the Raimi movies, but I always felt that Toby Maguire seemed uncomfortable delivering the one-liners.

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A question for fans of the Spider-man character: In the comics, does he make jokes while he's subduing criminals? Is he supposed to be a cut-up in some sense? I can't remember if he was treated as such in the Raimi version.

Yes, that is a part of the character in the comics. It played a small part in the Raimi movies, but I always felt that Toby Maguire seemed uncomfortable delivering the one-liners.

Yeah, and it's pretty much a constant thing in the comics: Quips are everywhere.

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There are quips in the new film, but I detected no discernable laughter among the preview audience I saw the film with. I don't know if the theater didn't have good acoustics, the sound mix was off, or if the lines just fell flat.

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That can be the audience itself though. I have seen more than one occassion, including around here where I heard how nobody at the advanced screenings seemed to laugh or react at all to jokes or action sequences...yet when I saw them, the audience was cheering, laughing, etc. I wonder if the type of audience that fills a lot of advanced screening are more prone to detached observation.

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My somewhat contrarian review…very hard to write, for a Spider-Man nut like me.

FWIW, I notice the geekier critics—Drew "Moriarty" McWeeney, Devin Faraci of Badass Digest, MaryAnn Johanson, Nick Nunziata of CHUD, James Berardinelli—all seem to be breaking negative on this one. Meanwhile, critics like Roger Ebert, Stephen Witty, Kenneth Turan and David Edelstein seem to be breaking positive. It seems plausible that the more of an affinity to Spider-Man you have, the less you will like this film.

The Amazing Spider-Man has some good ideas in this direction. In some ways, it improves on the previous trilogy…

For all that, the new film bungles who Spider-Man is, where he’s coming from. This isn’t the only problem (there are notable issues around the plot and the interpretation of Spider-Man’s reptilian foe, the Lizard), but, for me, it’s the most intractable, because it undermines the hero’s moral center.

Here is the crux of who Peter Parker has always essentially been, at least in his origins: A brainy high-school outcast unexpectedly bequeathed with extraordinary powers, Peter initially uses those powers for personal gain — until the murder of his Uncle Ben at the hands of a thug Peter could have stopped but didn’t. Blaming himself for his uncle’s death, Peter learns a lesson his uncle tried to teach him: that with great power comes great responsibility. From then on, Peter seeks to use his powers responsibly to protect people generally. With his uncle gone, Peter’s Aunt May becomes an even more crucial figure in his life, and he worries over and cares for her in her widowhood even as he also draws inspiration from her strength of spirit.

The Amazing Spider-Man includes some of these key markers, from Peter’s brains and outcast status to Ben Parker’s murder. Yet Peter’s response to his uncle’s murder — the key turning point in the character’s development — is completely wrong. Instead of blaming himself, or resolving to use his powers to protect others, he directs all his wrath against the murderer, leading to an extended manhunt as Peter tracks down thugs who fit the general description of his uncle’s killer while showing no interest in other criminals.

I’m not against giving Peter a longer learning curve. I get that Peter’s vendetta against his uncle’s killer parallels his earlier retaliation against high-school bully Flash Thompson (Chris Zylka), over which Uncle Ben himself rebuked Peter. The problem is that the movie never gets where it needs to: At no time does the lesson of power and responsibility emerge in connection with Ben’s death.

Instead, Peter’s sense of responsibility emerges in connection with the Lizard — partly because no one else is in the Lizard’s power league and partly because (for reasons I won’t spoil) Peter blames himself for the emergence of the Lizard in the first place.

This is not dramatically equivalent to Peter blaming himself for his uncle’s death, for several reasons. First, the act for which Peter blames himself in connection with the Lizard is not an irresponsible or selfish act. There’s no way he could have foreseen the trouble it would lead to, whereas anyone could foresee that letting a thug escape could lead to further thuggery. Second, it is not a failure to use his powers that Peter blames himself for here. It is crucial to who Spider-Man is that a failure to use his powers leads to consequences that impress on him the importance of using his powers responsibly and selflessly…

After the murder, poor Aunt May (Sally Field, looking nothing like the iconic character) practically drops out of the movie. Peter has brief, sullen exchanges with her in passing as he comes and goes, and when she expresses concern about his bruises, late hours and general unavailability, he practically snaps at her. Yes: In her hour of grief, Peter disses his widowed aunt for being concerned about him. And he never shows regret for this — never apologizes or manifests real concern or solicitude for the woman who raised him. That’s. Not. Peter. (It was at that moment that my 14-year-old son David turned to me and whispered what I’d been thinking for some time: “He’s kind of a jerk, isn’t he?”)

Edited by SDG

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FWIW, I notice the geekier critics—Drew "Moriarty" McWeeney, Devin Faraci of Badass Digest, MaryAnn Johanson, Nick Nunziata of CHUD, James Berardinelli—all seem to be breaking negative on this one. Meanwhile, critics like Roger Ebert, Stephen Witty, Kenneth Turan and David Edelstein seem to be breaking positive. It seems plausible that the more of an affinity to Spider-Man you have, the less you will like this film.

I'm not a Spider-man geek by any means and was just so-so with this new movie.

Am I the only person who finds the big fight scenes between heroes and villains to be almost entirely without interest? We always know who will win -- we always have. But these scenes used to have some tension, some pizazz, something that made them exciting to watch.

Or maybe I was just a kid when I enjoyed these scenes, and now I'm an old fogey.

The big confrontation occurs, and I almost instantly start thinking about what I might have for dinner. Worse is knowing that the Big Confrontation is merely a precursor to the Super Duper Confrontation that will come closer to the end of the film.

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I don't know which confrontation was Big and which was Super Duper, but I thought at least one of them was fairly interesting for the way that Spidey sort of enshrouded the Lizard in webbing, not unlike how a spider wraps its prey in silk. This is one of two things I've mentioned elsewhere that make *this* film's Spider-Man *more* spider-like than the Spider-Man of the Tobey Maguire films. (The other thing I've mentioned elsewhere is the scene where Spidey creates a network of silken threads in the sewers, and then sits at the centre, waiting for one of the threads to vibrate. That, too, is a lot more spider-like than anything I can remember Tobey Maguire doing.)

But I share SDG's disappointment in how the film handles Uncle Ben's death, etc. I didn't put anywhere near as much thought into it at the time as SDG did, but I do remember thinking that Uncle Ben's death kind of didn't go anywhere -- it was just a really sad thing that happened, and it didn't lead to the big moral lesson that it's *supposed* to lead to. (It felt like one of a number of things that were done differently in this film Just Because this film needed to do things differently to differentiate itself from the previous films.) And *without* that moral lesson (as one critic put it ten years ago, Spider-Man is different from other top-tier heroes because he is aware of his own moral failings and the consequences thereof), Aunt May's later line that Peter is a "good" person kind of comes out of the blue, and maybe even works *against* the moral thrust that we would expect from the Spider-Man mythos at this point.

Random side note: I did find that it was easier to believe that *this* Peter Parker could afford to make his own costume. The Sam Raimi films were utterly unbelievable in this regard, because [a] they kept emphasizing how hard-up for money Peter Parker was, and they actually showed us the home-made costume that Peter Parker wore *before* he wore the super-duper costume, which created a gap of sorts between what we perceived as Peter's actual costume-making abilities and what we were expected to believe that he had made later on. Oh, and [c] they never actually showed Peter Parker *making* the super-duper costume; he just kind of showed up in it at some point, right? So it just sort of appeared, as if by magic. In this film, on the other hand, we see Peter Parker actually making the costume, and we are never given reason to believe that it would be all *that* beyond his abilities or resources to do so, so it all works, as far as that goes.

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Peter, I'm a little let down that your list above didn't make it to "[d]."

Well, let's all agree that the kid imperiled in that car on the bridge was a pretty cool sequence.

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Well, let's all agree that the kid imperiled in that car on the bridge was a pretty cool sequence.

Easily the best moment in the film, and a better character moment than anything in Raimi's trilogy.

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This frustrates me...the advanced stuff I was seeing just seemed so...positive. I was totally won over by the sequence with the kid in the car. But I really liked the bit with the car thief, a lot of the various visuals (seeing Spidey lowering himself into the sewer over a big web. The Daily Show had a nice clip where Peter is trying to swing, and stumbles before getting the hang of it. I was not seeing a thing to make me worry... until now. When it comes to comic book movies, I tend to put a lot of weight on the thoughts of SDG especially...and to see your reaction, I am feeling disappointed. Especially hearing how gravely they appear to have missed the mark of the motivations between "With Great Power..."

The thing is, Peter was kind of jerk before his uncle died. Chris Sims over at Comics Alliance wrote about why Spider-Man is the greatest character in comics. But it sounds like the film is not actually taking this type of approach.

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