|Finally! A Spider-Man movie. Bout time they made one of those things.|
And not because it’s bad, necessarily. The movie is, on so many terms, satisfactory. Merely satisfactory, but still – it was comfortable viewing, in part, because lots of things were going right. If I have a blatant complaint, it’s that the movie genuinely seemed to have no agenda for its pacing. Since this is one of those terms movie critics use to the point it no longer resonates meaning, let me explain what I, at least, mean by that. If in a conversation, you told someone what you had for breakfast, and that a relative passed away recently, and that you lost your cell phone, in that order, would you slip through each topic at the same rate, with the same tone, and transition without regard for what came before or after? Of course not. Movies need to forge the same linear and comprehensive and unified momentum.
Instead, a majority of the scenes in The Amazing Spider-Man, by way of direction and editing, follow after one another like music videos. They pertain to the plot but, but there’s no sense that the people behind it had any idea what was carrying from the previous scene or leading into the next. This made the relentlessly expressive score seem like it was, rather than supporting the tones of the film, straining to foot them entirely. It’s a really pleasant score at times, but listen to it (not even closely; at your leisure); it very often feels like a cheer squad at a chess tournament (and again, not a bad cheer squad).
And I’m sure this really lent the issue of never feeling as though the movie put its feet on the ground, but I don’t think it’s the whole story. I’m sorry that this is the same insight everyone’s had since day one, but it genuinely seems to be the core of the matter: this was just way too soon. And I didn’t go in thinking it was too soon. I’d long since, like a lot of people, just gotten over the fact. It took its toll anyway, intuitively, even as I agreed with a lot of what the flick had to offer.
I went on and on in a previous article about how this movie strained like crazy to convince everyone it had been inspired into life by a new, deeper, darker story, in order to distract from its obvious (and completely fair) inspiration: money. I completely hold to that, especially as even the distinctions hinted at in the trailers failed to bare notably on the plot (Peter’s parents are part of a back story that never knows how its supposed to be part of the flick’s actual narrative). But I guess I’m amazed at how well it undermined even really good actors doing good work in descent roles. Everything just felt … created, which is wild considering the super hero stuff is such an easy suspension of disbelief. Whether it’s written into the soul of a commercially inspired film, and the poor timing here just made it detectable, or if things just didn’t click quite well enough to bring it all fully together, I’m not sure. But, no, yeah, I’m leaning toward the first thing.
I also really enjoyed how they slowly insinuated Peter’s powers, so that by the time he actually went full costume, there was this sense of visceral empowerment ready to burst onto a grand scale. Only it never really did. Did it? I don’t recall the movie ever diving into the joy of web slinging until the very end, which seems like flat out derivative paranoia, as I’m sure no one would have cared (either you’re ready for a new Spider-Man this soon, or not). It’s seriously like the movie walked secretly on eggshells avoiding the previous films’ footsteps, rather than just pursuing its own with confidence. On the plus side, I have to admit that its lack of confidence in form, and general embrace of whatever the hell felt different, at least lead to some scenes that really felt loose and fun – almost artistic, if you want to get that way about it. The fact that it had a weak grip on its self, and was ready to try what it at least knew those other movies hadn’t, again, made watching it a fairly pleasant breeze … it’s just that when it’s over, you’re not exactly sure you’ve watched a thing.
Postscript: At least I wasn’t. The 5 or 6 year old boy down in front of us applauded at the end … and I have a terrible suspicion he has the more relevant review.