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I felt I should give it another shot….

What did I think?

Suffice to say I’m still not fond of it.

Let me try to break down why I don’t like this movie in a relatively brief and readable manner.

First off, Marc Webb’s ((500) Days of Summer) direction seems almost bipolar, with it swinging from supposedly ‘charming’ teeny-bopper high school stuff to stale, turgid conspiracy film to family drama to sci-fi body horror that can only be described as ‘David Cronenberg-lite’. It never keeps a consistent tone, and while the fight sequences are often filmed in a vibrant and engaging way, they lack any impact, mostly due to the complete apathy I feel for the main characters.

And what causes this apathy you might ask? The screenplay, which is, in a word, horrible.James Vanderbilt (The RundownZodiacWhite House Down), two-time Academy Award winner Alvin Sargent (JuliaOrdinary PeopleSpider-Man 2) and Academy Award nominee Steve Kloves (Wonder Boys, the Harry Potter francise) give all their characters a strange, almost overwhelming need to be abrasive and/or foolish people, who are always seemingly out to get each other or offend someone in the story. No one (except Uncle Ben and Captain Stacy), feels like a person I’d like to spend any more then a few moments with.

They transform Peter Parker, who from my (admittedly limited) knowledge of the character is a sharp-witted geek, into a mean spirited, misanthrope who constantly demeans/disregards others (especially authority figures) with a snide, supposedly witty insult or come back.

Curt Conners isn’t spared either, as apparently neither the writers, director Webb or actorRhys Ifhans (CBS’ ElementaryHarry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1) can decide wither to make him a sympathetic Dr. Jekyll to Lizard’s Mr. Hyde, or if he’s some kind of mad scientist who uses the Lizard as a tool for his own evil ends.

Plot threads and themes are introduced only to be left hanging, in favor of more and more snark and darker and edgier tone that ends up making the film feel  heavy and downcast despite of it’s supposedly optimistic ending (more on that when I get to Peter Parker himself).

The so-called ‘romantic dialogue’ is always strange and awkward, never feeling natural, but more like random natterings, spouted with abandon and at a frantic pace, as if desperately trying to recapture the spark of the likes of Woody AllenJoel Coen and Ethan Coen,Quentin Tarantino or Aaron Sorkin. Instead, it comes across as stilted and forced, a fact certainly not helped by the hapless attempts at facial quirks and verbal tics, which only help make the bad dialogue feel all the more painful to listen to.

Now, onto the acting.

First off, like I said before, everyone seems to just be at a total loss as to what to do with their characters. Every performance (except Martin Sheen and Dennis Leary) seems just as bipolar and confused as the film itself, swinging through emotions like an epileptic monkey on a vine. But let’s try to break it down into pieces for easier digestion.

Andrew Garfield seems to be on autopilot for this film, never really feeling as if he’s trying to make this Parker his own. Instead, it just feels like he’s being told to act like an abrasive, immature teenager with endless angst, and not a fully fleshed out and complex character. His take on the character (and I blame the writing and direction for this) is to create someone who I continually wish I could punch in the face with a spiked boxing glove, or to push in front of an oncoming train. Any time he shows anything resembling true kindness or selflessness towards another, it always feels as if he’s secretly wanting something from that other person, and is only being nice to get what he wants. He causally offends other people, belittling them or outright disregarding them in favor of doing whatever he wants, regardless of consequences. Almost every attempt to make him sympathetic comes off as trite or false, almost as if the writers put it in at the last moment.

On top of that, this version of Peter isn’t even that smart really. We only get one real scene showing his intelligence, when he decodes a formula that was a basically already decoded by both his own father and Dr. Conners. All Peter does is put the pieces together. Also, this version of Peter is an outright thief, stealing much of his webshooter tech from Oscorp in order to build it, instead of creating it himself. Instead of a lovable geek or nerd, we’re treated to an emo kid who likes to creep around wearing hoodies, and take long distance photographs of his girlfriend without her knowledge.

Now don’t get me wrong, I actually think that Andrew Garfield is a great, really talented actor (if you don’t believe me, watch The Social Network for how Peter Parker SHOULD have been played)

That reminds me, Emma Stone is flat as unleavened bread in this film. Her take on Gwen feels like an anime Mary Sue come to life, with everything from the fact that her eyes never cease to look like a sad, whiny puppy, to her makeup to her clothing to her hair always being absolutely perfect. Perfectly ironed, perfectly groomed. ALL THE TIME. Her personality is always flat, with the only real emotions being shown at the scene in the rain at the end of the film, where she’s actually emotional over the death of her father.

On top of that, she’s stubborn as a mule, always back talking towards her father or disregarding the advice given to her. Her attraction towards Peter seems to only be there because it was there in the comics. We never see them interacting before they meet in the schoolyard. Never is it mentioned that Peter had a crush on her or visa versa. One minute they’ve met, and the next, POOF! It’s a love for the ages that’s worth completely disregarding the pleading words of her dying father for.

SPEAKING OF WHICH, why the hell did Peter go back on his word? Did you not learn nothing? You disregarded your uncle’s advice, and he ended up being shot less then 50 feet away from you. At least the Rami films had the decency to have Peter and Uncle Ben have a logical reason to fight, and that that film’s Peter wasn’t a total asshole towards Uncle Ben the entire time. In this film, Peter is a jerk towards his parental figures, and, at the end of the film, when a dying Captain Stacy practically begs Peter to stay away from his daughter for her own safety, Peter goes back on his word less than a month later, saying that promises that can’t be kept ‘are the best kind’. Yeah. Talk to me when this leads to your beloved’s skull cracking open like a walnut against the pavement, Peter.

Rhys Ifhans is even more lost then Garfield, playing Dr. Conners as a strange, confused mix of evil mad scientist or good man who simply makes a horrible mistake. The performance swings back and forth, with my sympathy for the character constantly being questioned whenever the previously kind Conners suddenly starts speaking in villainous overtones or waxes eloquent on the superiority of reptiles. This strange interplay is never explained, and the exact nature of the Lizard in relation to Conners is maddeningly ambiguous. Is Conners the dominate or is it the Lizard? Or do they share? Do they share the same goals? Is one simply using the other to futher his own agenda? Never explained. At times, it seems like Lizard and Conners are completely separate, like Banner and the Hulk. At others it seems that they’re really just the same personality, just with the Lizard being it turned up to eleven.

Sally Field plays Aunt May as a high strung, vaguely anal retentive control freak, who constantly nags and worries and complains about something or other, which stand out in sharp contrast to Rosemary Harris’ dignified portrayal of the character.

Martin Sheen however, plays Uncle Ben perfectly, giving the character a dignity and wisdom that is sorely lacking in the other characters. At times, his dialogue almost feels like he’s self-aware of the rest of the screenplay, and is trying to actively point out the flaws, which is such a relief in a film where everyone seems completely blind to their flaws.

Dennis Leary also plays Captain Stacy with swagger and confidence, using even less screen time than Sheen to help provide what also seems to be the only sane man in the film’s universe.

Everyone else in the cast just kinda fades into a sea of blandness really, and there’s not much to say.

The only positive in this whole thing is Horner’s score. It’s ornate and beautiful, standing out in sharp contrast to the faceless, empty bombass of most modern action scores. It uses the piano and strings gently and never seems to overstate or blow everything out of proportion. Sure it sounds like most of his other post-Titanic work, but Horner at least has enough style and class to help overcome that hurdle. Of course, a film score, no matter how much I like it, can help save a bad movie for me.

In the end, this film exists solely because Sony was greedy. The film rights to Spider-Man were about to revert back to Marvel Pictures, and so, Sony, desperate to keep the rights and make more money with minimal effort, created this film on the fly. The end product suffers, desperately trying to ape the styles of others, while never understanding what made those other films work.

I give a very weak 1.5 out of 5

  • Mood: Not Impressed
  • Listening to: Genesis

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Bronyman1995
Ben Miranda
Artist | Hobbyist | Varied
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Born-again Christian, a new being in Christ. And Brony and film-fanatic

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Grishend Featured By Owner Jul 18, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thank you for :+fav:ing my deviation "Leviathan" and "Leviathan"
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