Full disclosure—I’m not a fan of Spider-man. Not because I’m arachnophobic. I don’t mind spiders at all. Spider-man simply wasn’t one of my go-to superheroes. You know how you don’t like something just because? That would be me and Spider-man.
Now I’m a little more partial to the crawly dude since I saw THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN. Overall I found the movie enjoyable. The cast was good, the CGI wasn’t overwhelming or obvious, and as with all Marvel movies of late, the sequel set-up was there and not too ham-fisted. I might even watch this movie again, which I can’t say about too many other films.
And yet, there are a few nits to pick. The main one is the issue of backstory, aka the writer’s bane. How much previous information is too much? How to decide what is germane to the story you’re trying to tell? If you leave anything out, will the audience be confused? If you add more than you need, will the audience be bored?
In this case, a good half hour could have been cut from the first act without taking anything away from the story, and the tighter edit sure would have helped with the pacing. The movie starts off quick—Peter Parker’s parents disappear and no one knows why. Of course we the people know they know why, they’re just not telling. Then the story delves into the family drama of Peter as a gawky teenager still dealing with his parents’ disappearance, and the beginning of a crumbling relationship with the aunt and uncle who selflessly raised him. All good stuff—except it has almost nothing to do with the second and third acts. PP’s/Spidey’s vigilante revenge grinds to a nub once he realizes he’s causing problems for the police. Because all superheroes cause the po-po headaches, don’tcha know. And since he’s carrying a web-wrapped torch for the police chief’s daughter, this gangly, brilliant, agile, spandex-wearing emotional mess of a spider-bite-gone-wrong has to do the right thing—forget about catching his uncle’s killer and, uh, chase the big dinosaur.
An argument can be made that the family angst is pivotal to Spider-man’s development as a superhero. True, if that had been carried throughout the story. Instead it seemed like a chance for stunt casting Sally Field and Martin Sheen, who, while excellent in their roles, could have easily been five minute cameos and the message would have been the same: Spider-Man becomes the reluctant hero because of his uncle’s tragic death. It would have been better to use the first ten or fifteen minutes to show the backstory, then on to dinosaur chasing, web flinging, air swinging shenanigans. And don’t forget the impossible romance that must end in tragedy or the sequel will. not. happen.
Despite all that, I’m looking forward to Spider-Man 2, which according to imdb is happening in 2014. I’m just giddy about all these superhero movies, because for the most part, they are a blast to watch. I just hope the sequels to all the sequels that have been already sequelized don’t let me down.