8 Jul 2012

NOT SO "AMAZING SPIDER-MAN" RANT


WARNING! HARSH LANGUAGE, PARENTAL GUIDANCE IS ADVISED.

I don't usually do this but the circumstances demand it. I have a lot of frustration bottled in from watching the "Amazing Spider-Man" movie. Actually, my frustrations are not entirely from the movie as much as they were triggered by the responses of other watchers.

He was DEFINITELY at the theater.
When the movie was FINALLY done, and I do mean FINALLY because I restrained myself from walking out severally, I heard people a few seats to my right  in the theatre clapping. I was taken aback. Who are these film-goers who clap after such a movie? It later dawned on me that there were hoards of them with positive Internet buzz surrounding the movie. Those that loved it really did while those that despised it... Well... Let's just say they are blogging about it at odd hours of the night...


I will just say, from the onset this movie is riddled with failure and disappointment at every turn so much that I feel the weight of typing all the misfires already. It failed to make sense even within its own flawed logic. Visiting its memory is a journey to a place that I am only taking for the benefit of others. I will now get into it with a plot dissection. My memory may be scanty at some bits as I occasionally closed my eyes in disbelief or turned to discuss the horror on screen with my brother who was equally disgusted. 
Let us begin.

PLOT

A young Peter Parker is abandoned by his parents who were working on a secret formula for Oscorp but have their house ravaged by (who knows) and decide to escape leaving young Peter with his aunt and Uncle Ben. It is very unclear where Peter's parents are from this point on until some point in the movie when a newspaper clipping (which if you aren't keen you might miss) shows their plane crashed somewhere and they presumably died. That newspaper clipping also signals lip service later on pointing to the fact that Dr. Connors (the eventual villain) must comply with a certain Oscorp project (that involves human experimentation with animal DNA to save Norman Osborn from who-knows-what disease) or he will suffer the fate of Peter's parents. Hmmm... Ok, whatevs...

Uncle Ben is cheating on Aunt May with the
nutty lady from "Brothers & Sisters."
So Peter is now grown and is a photographer at school. Flash Thompson, being the usual jock equipped  with an audience is picking on some kid. He asks Peter to take a picture of the incident and Peter refuses to. So from the onset, Peter is already a hero, this incident earns him a beating and Gwen Stacy's seemingly instantaneous affection. She did not know Peter before this incident. What would follow is proof that "With Great Power Comes Great Irresponsibility" as this was one of his last truly genuine acts of heroism. It also earns him a beating with scars that really worry an Aunt May who never really looked the part of Aunt May. These were the first of several scars he would eventually go home with night after night during the movie to which Aunt May would just hug him and cry or yell at him for not buying the eggs he was sent for and cry or just cry. Way-to-go Aunt May. No wonder you have no kids of your own.

So the family has had a bag belonging to Peter's father which they all thought to be empty with a secret compartment containing files. Peter of course discovers the secret compartment, blaaady bla bla, and finds a picture that turns out to be his father & Dr Connors and a secret formula written on paper.
The brains behind Oscorp.
He then goes to Oscorp to investigate the link between Dr. Connors and his parents who he never really knew. Surprise surprise, Gwen Stacy works there, a high-school girl with an unbelievable access level to the building. This high-school girl is running the show at Oscorp. Peter steals some random kid's badge for an internship tour and as he is inside, the owner of the badge is seen to be forcefully evicted from the building by security. Score one for cunning young Peter. Gwen notices Peter the impostor and covers for him when he catches the eye of Dr. Connors with that Peter Parker genius that we all know and love; reminiscent of his interaction with Dr Octavius in Raimi's Spider-Man 2.  (That genius also NEVER appeared again during the entire movie) They discuss cross-species experiments, blaaaady bla bla and Connors dream of a world without weakness. So yeah, he will eventually experiment with lizard DNA on himself to grow back his missing arm and unfortunately turn into The Lizard.

So Peter escapes from the Oscorp tour following a man who had documents of interest to him and sneaks into a room full of glowing spiders and I do mean FULL of glowing spiders. He plays with one of their webs and they all come crumbling down on him. As he escapes the room, one conveniently remains in the back of his jacket. So at this point I am wondering, room FULL of spiders, one bites him, turns him into Spider-Man, what do all the rest of the spiders do and what happened to them after that scene and just why... Why did they have a room containing hundreds of glowing spiders? Even when he did become Spider-Man, these Oscorp scientists had a room FULL of spiders. Why did nobody say, "Hey, there's a kid with spider powers running around. Why don't we go to our spider room because we have loads of spiders at Oscorp and we could create another?" How is it that Peter was the only victim of a spider bite that turned into a super powered hero while EVERY OTHER CROSS-SPECIES EXPERIMENT, LIZARD, SPIDER OR RAT ENDED IN DEATH OR HORRID MUTATION? The tale of that room full of spiders was just supposed to fade from memory as we accept that Peter was the only mutation gone right and the scientists didn't think to find out why.

Fellow New Yorkers, please don't remember my
appearance.
He discovers his powers on a subway train, gets into a fight with all the commuters who see his face as he sticks to the roof of the train, comes home late with scars on his face, angers Uncle Ben, they argue, Peter gives that whole "YOU'RE NOT MY FATHER" speech and storms out. Uncle Ben follows him into the dark dangerous night as he hides above some structure with his spider powers. I should point out that during this scene I said a silent prayer that whatever I was expecting to happen doesn't, but well, not all prayers are answered in the way that we want.

Peter enters a store to buy milk (because that's just what he does when he's upset. Teenagers...) and the store owner refuses to sell him milk because he is a couple pennies short or something. A guy who is clearly a mugger behind him holds up the store, gives Peter the milk he was unable to pay for and escapes. So Peter, the accessory to store robbery is asked to help catch the guy by the store owner to which he says something to the effect of, "Not my concern." Hmmm... Where have I seen this scene before... Meanwhile, Uncle Ben is walking the same street looking for Peter the Douche. What he finds is a mugger fleeing and conveniently falling in front of him with gun. Heroic Uncle Ben wrestles for the gun and gets shot in the process. Peter subsequently does the whole teary "WHYYY!!!" bit. Hmmm, where have I seen ALL THESE SCENES BEFORE??? I found this writing so incredibly lazy and an insult to ticket-buyers everywhere. Yes, as expected, Peter got a police sketch and chose to use his powers to hunt down Uncle Ben's killers... What is going on here??? Reboot you say? Maybe you need to look up the word Marc Webb. What was even sadder was the police officer's comment to Peter as he walked out. "Oh, remember he has a tattoo on his wrist." How this piece of information would be useful to this teenager, I don't know, unless of course the writers thought it would help explain Peter's nightly rampages through the streets beating up strangers and checking for a tattoo on their wrists...
Why they even did an origin is beyond me after Sam Raimi left no doubt that there is no better way to possibly envision an origin story of Spider-Man. After a while, I guess Peter just lost interest in finding Uncle Ben's killer or weightier matters took precedence.

I thought I was good but my face is turning scaly so I must 
be evil...
What follows this absurd re-introduction of Spider-Man to the audience is a confused cluster**k of a plot with Dr Connors character changing whenever it suited the writers and Peter Parker mastering his powers waaaay too quickly all the while being an absolute douchebag on an incomprehensible level. Lets just face it, Peter was a total asshole throughout the movie giving no reason for us to either sympathise, empathise, identify with or understand his situation. The only lesson on the cards was, with great power comes great douchebaggary. He went on a rampage attacking people, beating down Flash Thompson, dressing down anyone who thought Spider-Man was a menace, fighting with cops, yelling at Aunt May and storming out on her, insulting Gwen Stacy's father who was the captain of the police force IN HIS OWN HOUSE during a dinner he was invited to, running his mouth in a snide and offencive manner and just being a dick. There was no ounce of self sacrifice or any notion of it from the genius who never was. His whole interaction with Dr. Connors was based on a lie as he stole his father's formula and gave it to Connors claiming it was his own genius... Yeah, that sounds like something the Peter Parker we all know and love would do...

Step aside Edward & Bella, 
there's a new power couple
in town.
Later he saved a kid from falling into a river (A scene with its own multitude of flaws) which was meant to be his epiphany to change and put others before himself but he just went on being an nuisance to the bitter end. His motivation for fighting The Lizard wasn't even clear because there was nothing in him to show why he was doing it. He was an empty character. The writing in this movie was terrible and they only succeeded in character regression. Peter came from the kid who sticks-up for kids being bullied in school to a bully himself.

Peter's big reveal to Gwen about his identity was appalling, an unbelievable mess of a scene and only the fact that I was treated to the movie prevented me from storming out at that point. It was like witnessing a raping of a character you know and love. Gwen chose to say "Oh my god you're Spider-Man" even before it was established who this vigilante running around the city was. There was no J. Jonah Jameson to create the name on the front page of the Daily Bugle, it just popped up from goodness knows where. It wasn't once mentioned in the media or anywhere else in the movie. Later Peter came out to boldly claim "I am Spider-Man." No you're not, you're the product of a director who didn't know what the hell he was doing.

As far as Dr. Connors is concerned I don't know what the hell was going on with him. Norman Osborn is dying and Connors must find a cure or he will be killed like Peter Parker's parents. Connors injects lizard DNA into his arm which grows back then an instant mutation turns him into The Lizard at the back of a New York taxi. From this point on, the Dr. who has since been level headed goes on a rampage with an unclear motive (presumably to stop some guy from going somewhere to do something that may get him in trouble) smashing everything in sight. He gets into a fight with Spider-Man and escapes to a hole. In this sewer (which suddenly has a fully equipped laboratory) he decides that humans are foolish and must all be turned into lizard people. He cooks up a formula and heads for Oscorp to poison the city and turn everyone into Lizard people. Yes, it really happened.
My hand is growing back! Too bad the urge to destroy the
city will soon follow. It is what it is...
Now here is where it really gets good. The formula that had been worked on forever and even Dr. Connors couldn't figure out how to whip-up needed an antidote to save the city. Gwen Stacy, the high-school classmate of Peter Parker whipped it up in a matter of minutes at Oscorp using her genius and high level of security clearance. What did I tell you, this schoolgirl was the boss all along.

As Gwen Stacy uses her superior intellect to whip-up the antidote, it becomes clear to Spider-Man that she is in danger. He must find his way to Oscorp to save the city from the threat of the lizard-people virus. Oh how we love that iconic doom-the-city-from-a-tall-building (Transformer/Avengers) scene. Unfortunately for Spider-Man, he is viewed as a menace so he gets shot in the thigh by New York's finest and Captain Stacy is on hand to take-off his mask. "Gasp! Its the teenager who be dating my daughter..." (How many people will this kid expose his secret identity to?) Peter is able to "reason" with the Captain who spares him and sets him free to rescue his daughter and the city. It is interesting that in this scene, there are hundreds of witnesses on that street but only the Captain really sees Spider-Man's identity without the mask. The police all stand slack-jaw staring as they place the fate of the city in the hands of a teenager who they just shot and wounded. Spider-Man is now limping and running out of time. Fortunately for him, several building cranes are stationed between his exact location and Oscorp. What are the odds of that? 
News channels suddenly turn into narrators explaining how Spider-Man needs to make his way to Oscorp but is wounded and may not make it in time. It was as if he was texting them with his immediate thoughts for them to report to the public. After that absurd news broadcast, the crane operators get inspired by the situation to station their cranes in a way that would allow a few Tarzan swings to Oscorp. Beyond this unbelievable coincidence, it was also very fortunate that Spider-Man was armed with the power of forgetfulness. He webbed-up his thigh and pretty much forgot that he got shot as he swung into action and arrived at Oscorp.
OK, OK, very funny, who switched the movie to Twilight? My ticket says Spider-Man.

Captain Stacy eventually dies in a scene reminiscent of Harry Osborn's death in Spider-Man 3 (actually identical to Harry Osborn's death) as he was helping Spider-Man fight the Lizard but unfortunately got clawed through the stomach and out the back. Peter wrapped up the Lizard battle just in time to rush to Captain Stacy's side on that roof top for the final reconciliation. They just managed to duplicate Sam Raimi's portrayal of Harry's death so yaaay to the reboot. Well, at least the secret of Spider-Man's identity died with the captain. Thank goodness all New Yorkers have terrible memory and the police have poor vision except Captain Stacy whose death would conveniently sort out the little matter of the knowledge he had acquired.
The Iguana... err... Lizard interrupts Gwen Stacy's
synthesis of the lizard-people antidote...
As we return to the good doctor, he suddenly realised that maybe he's doing a bad thing, "let me help Spider-Man up this building ledge in a dramatic show of repentance as my lizard DNA withers away," even though Spider-Man can stick to walls and probably didn't need to be pulled up. It was good P.R. for Dr. Connors who's character shifted whenever the writers saw it fit.

If you know anything about Spider-Man you will be wondering, where was Norman Osborn through all this? I mean, I have seen Oscorp mentioned tonnes of times and Osborn orchestrating the deaths of Peter's parents so where was he? Unfortunately even I can't tell you because I didn't see him. He didn't once make an appearance during the entire duration of the film. Yaaay for us however, they had a post-credits scene with a voice speaking incomprehensibly from the shadows and a figure who was impossible to identify. Thanks Marc Webb. That was bloody helpful.

I won't even get into the eventual and unnatural bromance between Flash (another victim of bipolar characterization) and Peter, one which I have never seen or read about before. Neither will I address the super powered displays by Peter suddenly having the ability to bend a football post by tossing a ball at it or flying higher than the basketball rim and smashing it to pieces and not arousing any suspicion from his clearly less-than-intelligent schoolmates. Even when The Lizard rampaged through the school and fought Spider-Man, nobody was able to make the connection between him and Peter. I also don't think I should discuss Peter Parker's skateboard which was broken severally but thankfully, being a magic skateboard, like his magical Spider-Man suit that just appeared when he became Spider-Man, it always returned to normal whenever he needed it. 
Oh no, Peter's secret is out!
What Ill absolutely not discuss is Peter's fight in the waters of the sewer; I have no clue why, but he had a camera in the sewer taking pictures of his fight with the Lizard. Look, don't ask me why, I have no idea what greatness bubbles within the director's mind. So Peter escapes leaving behind his camera with bold inscription saying "Property of Peter Parker." Congratulations script writer sir, that was the best possible way for the Lizard to realise Parker is Spider-Man. And how about his visit to Gwen after the fight when she either had a terribly blocked nose or just didn't notice the stench while making-out with sewer boy or letting him lie down in her room while she tends to his wounds. 

Quite frankly, it speaks for itself. This was a BAD! movie and with each new sentence I type I discover a new flaw. I will watch Green Lantern ten times before I revisit that horror of a character's butchering.