Lead sentence 1: “It’s surprising more guys don’t watch soap operas (or openly admit to it) because soaps and comics use a lot of the same tropes—nobody ever really dies, people don’t know they have children (or parents)…


Lead sentence 2: “How many times can you re-invent the wheel, especially if it’s only been five years since the latest model?”


To go on from that one, regarding the reboot/relaunch/redux of the Spider-Man franchise. Suffice it to say there’s a reason it’s called the “motion picture business” and not the “motion picture not-for-profit we just do this for fun.”


The filmmakers tackling The Amazing Spider-Man had a pretty daunting task: the other three movies were both still pretty fresh in everyone’s memory, had generated at least one iconic and oft-repeated moment—and they were pretty good. So how can you do something that recent, all over again?


Well, with exactly a half-century of material to draw on (as of this August) they went all the way back to the beginnings of the character, not just to the point where a lot of us first discovered him. And they also incorporated some of the newer material. We always knew Peter Parker was an orphan being raised by his Uncle Ben and Aunt May. (And we never questioned, if Aunt May was always that old… how old had his parent’s been?) And why was Peter an orphan? His parents died (duh!) in a car crash (we learn much later) but it may not have been an accident (we learn later still). In 1962, Peter was bitten by a radioactive spider ‘cause that sounded “plausible… at the time; by 2002 it was a “genetically-engineered” spider, which also sounded plausible and that was the current buzz-word but… How could a spider bite do what it did? Well, this year’s spider did it through cross-species genetics, which could actually be the last word.


Peter Parker is still in high school, a 17-year-old rather than the college student he so soon became in the previous movies. His parents leave him with Uncle Ben and Aunt May (who are apparently his father’s relatives, but then it begs the question, what happened to Peter’s grandparents?) after their house is broken into. They are killed and one day Peter discovers and a file hidden in his father’s briefcase that leads to a former colleague when they both worked for Harry Osborne. While trying to visit him he’s bitten by a spider and…


The filmmakers seemed to have decided to take the world of 1962 and bring it to the present—with a few tweaks—and a few needless anachronisms. The Daily Bugle is still there, but more as a cable news outlet than a newspaper. Peter still takes pictures for the school, but, curiously, he’s using a film camera in an age when he ends up on the Internet after someone records him on their Smartphone. (They just skip over the part about how/where he gets his film developed. Or why anyone still uses film. And he has a cell phone!) they answer the question how could a kid, even a really bright one, come up with his super-adhesive web fluid and the shooters and where he gets his costume; and the lady in his life is Gwen Stacy (Mary Jane didn’t come along until later).


The new Spider-Man team also had the difficulty of touching the stuff they had to but not making it look like the film his of just ten years ago. Uncle Ben gives the “great responsibility” speech but not the same one; he’s killed but not in the same way. The colors are darker and the sets more “realistic,” rather than the decidedly comic book look of the previous features. Spider-Man is more of the wiseacre (okay, smartass) that he traditionally is in the comics—but sometimes at the most inappropriate moments.


The acting is first-rate and the characters a bit more complex than what we’ve seen before: Spider-Man’s obsession with capturing Uncle Ben’s killer edges him very close to Dark Knight territory; Gwen seems to like him because he’s foolishly brave pre-bite but she seems to really like him afterward. (Maybe it’s the man in a uniform/bad boy thing.) But the CGI Lizard is never very convincing and he quickly degenerates into your typical movie mad scientist.


The Amazing Spider-Man is a good movie but not a great one. But we’ve got at least two more before the next reboot, so…


You need to be a member of Blacksciencefictionsociety to add comments!

Join Blacksciencefictionsociety

Email me when people reply –