At some point in 2012 I was sitting on a tour bus travelling down a western-US highway. Wife and I had been travelling for four weeks straight and, motivated by the thought that we might never make it back to this part of the world, we’d fallen into the trap of trying to experience everything in one go. Our days had been crammed full of impossibly long lines, confusing public transport maps, overzealous airport security guards and a f***ton of walking. Three weeks into our trip we were exhausted. And that’s before we joined the Contiki bus tour – at which point the word “exhausted” became been totally insufficient in describing our state of mind and body.
Credit: Things Bogans Like
Not only was the pace was stepped up another five notches, it seemed like we were suddenly expected to be awake 24/7, and all while being constantly bombarded by the kind of loud, obnoxious party music that makes me want to shoot things in the face at the best of times.
Alas, as I was being forced to listen to Rack City, Bitch for the third time that morning, the music was brought to a merciful halt and I was able to breathe a sigh of relief. Our tour guide then put the new Spider-Man film on the bus TV, which made me a little excited as I’d been meaning to watch it for a while. It was sure to get me out of my foul mood, and then I’d be primed and ready to sight-see the hell out of the Grand Canyon or wherever it was we were going next.
Except I couldn’t help but notice that the movie sucked.
Okay, so maybe that was more a reflection of my mood at the time rather than the quality of the film, and it was a dodgy pirated copy on a tiny screen – not exactly optimal conditions for enjoyment. So months later, I gave it a second chance and watched a good-looking copy in the comfort of my own home.
And again it sucked.
Credit: Miss Scorpio’s Photobucket
To be fair, it was a little better this time, but the suckiness levels (generally measured in Nickelback-equivalents per minute) were still too significant to ignore. Naturally this got me thinking about why I didn’t enjoy it and I decided it could be summed up in one word …unnecessary.
You see, I wasn’t impressed when I heard Hollywood would be rebooting the Spider-Man franchise. I understand that the film industry likes to stick with the safe bets – after all, they have bills to pay like everyone else. However, was everyone really so out of original ideas that they had to “reinvent” the red-suited arachnophile only ten years after he’d first hit our screens? I know that the sub-par Spider-Man 3 had put a nail in the coffin of the Sam Raimi Spider-Man franchise, but did its corpse need to be dug up, dressed in a different hat and presented to us again only five years later?
As you can tell, I came into the movie with a little bit of hate in my heart but I swear to you, I was ready to forgive. I love it when a film impresses me against the odds so all I needed was one moment of “Wow! That was actually pretty cool” and I’d be singing its praises. All I needed was one instance where I felt like I was watching something significantly different to the Raimi films and I would have let bygones be bygones.
But that moment never came. Instead, it was just the old corpse in a new hat.
Sure there are plenty of tangible difference that can be pointed out between 2002’s Spider-Man and 2012’s The Amazing Spider-Man; the actors are different, the backstory of Peter’s parents is fleshed out more, the green bad guy is replaced by a different green bad guy and so on, but at no point did I ever really feel like I was watching something new – not in any meaningful way. And when we’ve only been given such a short break from Ol’ Spidey’s antics, that just isn’t good enough.
I don’t really even know what the film-makers game plan was when they when they were trying to make this stand out from the Raimi movies, but it seems like they were going for the “gritty reboot” thing. I mean look at the dark colours on those posters.
Well, director Mark Webb and company, guess what? When it comes to gritty reboots …
I mean, the Dark Knight trilogy had Batman break a man’s legs by throwing him off a building, X-Men: First Class had Magneto slowly drive a coin through a man’s skull and The Hills Have Eyes reboot had so much f***ed up stuff happen that you don’t even want to know about it. In comparison, Amazing Spider-Man had … a muted colour palette. That’s it. It’s like the film makers knew they wanted to make it dark but only understood how to do that in the most literal sense.
Look, I don’t think every superhero film needs to go for a pitch-black tone. I don’t want a future where movie studios try so hard to out-gritty each other that the most moral superheroes we’re left with are an organ-harvesting Green Lantern and sex criminal Superman, but I’m also not fond of doing things by halves. With all the black ink used on those posters couldn’t we at least have had a villain with a plan that was actually frightening, instead of the daft comic-book science idea of turning everyone into lizards?
Alternatively, perhaps they could have embraced a lighter mood, a more garish colour scheme, a more childish feel – something that could bring emotion and drama into a family movie without ruining its sense of fun. Something where the ill-explained pseudo-science would fit the tone of the film. Something that would have been far superior to the half-assed crap we ended up with.
Oh, except that was already done. Ten years ago.
I’d love to keep the discussion/argument going in the comments, so don’t be shy! Also, if you liked this, check out my Movie Picks for 2012 so you can balance out the bitching with some glowing praise.