Saturday, May 24, 2014

Spider-man

Firstly, I should make my biases clear, but I'm pretty sure it's obvious. I've seen the Sam Raimi trilogy and of course, I will be comparing it to the reboot. After all, the reboot came a little bit too soon after the trilogy. Most of what follows will probably just be my personal preferences and gripes. Warning, spoilers abound.

1. Peter Parker

I liked the doe-eyed Tobey Maguire more as the day-to-day Peter Parker. He's the nerdy, unsure of himself, normal guy. Andrew Garfield's cheeky boyish look doesn't make me buy the Peter Parker-ness. Andrew Garfield looks like he belongs to some teen series.




2. Mary Jane versus Gwen Stacy

I hated Kirsten Dunst's Mary Jane. She's completely helpless like the traditional damsel in distress and sometimes her whining about her relationship with Peter Parker, seems, idk, petty, and sometimes she seems to not understand his predicament of being Spider-man and not being able to be there for her all the time.

Emma Stone's Gwen Stacy is just perfect. She dresses fine, looks pretty, and she's smart and assertive and she makes her own decisions. She knows about Peter being Spider-man and she's okay with it and she compliments him well. She's not just some pretty face for the hero to save.




3. Spider-man alter ego

I liked the Spider-man in the reboot better because of the wise-cracking and the emphasis on him being the "Friendly Neighborhood Spider-man". I don't see much of that with the Sam Raimi trilogy. The web shooters were supposed to be DIY and not naturally made by Peter anyway.




4. Green Goblin

I was disappointed the reboot didn't follow the source material and start with Norman Osborn as the Green Goblin, and what the heck with the non-existent medical condition that isn't even half convincing ? It's as if the narrative just dropped the term, hoping the audience would take their word that it's lethal without even explaining how it works, and just so that it serves as the single motivation for Harry Osborn's descend to the dark side. Well, James Franco's Harry Osborn wasn't that convincing either, although he had a better motive of taking up his father's mantel after finding out who "killed" his father. Either ways, aesthetically, both Dane deHaan and Willem Defoe look good as their characters. Norman Osborn was killed the cannon way too in the trilogy.




5. Romance

Well, disliking Mary Jane = it doesn't really work. She seems a bit shallow and to the end it's like the nerd guy who got lucky with a hot girl and hot girl hanging onto nerd guy cuz he saved her life as Spider-man kind of relationship. Although, the romance narrative is told better in the trilogy. In contrast, it's way more dynamic, and I guess they were going for adorkable, kind of relationship with Gwen Stacy and Peter Parker in the reboot, which, I think, is the only thing done well in the reboot, however, sometimes, it makes me feel like it's out of place, like it should belong in its own romance movie some place else, not in an action flick. I bet if you just made one movie out of that chemistry, it's gonna sell on its own instead of having it being mushed together in a hardly cohesive narrative, but I'll get to that. 



6. Villains

It always works best when there's only one villain per movie to focus on, or at most, only two, but once you cram in three, like Spider-man 3 and The Amazing Spider-man 2, it's a recipe for disaster. As important as it is to develop the heroes' character, the villains deserve attention too, so that you don't simply have a fight where you're only rooting for one side, where you just want the hero to whoop the villain's ass simply because he's a villain. If the villain has a really compelling motive, you may end up feeling sorry for him and perhaps have conflicting feelings about the hero beating him up, or on the other spectrum, feel so riled up by the villain's evil-ness that you're on the edge of your seat hoping the hero triumphs. Under-developed villains leave you feeling meh, and not as invested in the fight scenes as you should be. 

Both the trilogy had their hits and miss, but the worst has to be the three-villain combo, but my beef was with the reboot sequel's Electro. He started off as not being a terribly bad guy, and to the end, he didn't get a chance to redeem himself like the Sandman did in Spider-man 3. 

7. Action scenes

I generally have no problems with action scenes, I could enjoy most of them, and perhaps being the newer movie with the latest in CGI (although to be honest, it doesn't look that different to me), gotta give props to insanely beautiful action scenes in the reboot.

8. Narrative, plot and story-telling

I felt the plot was more cohesive in the trilogy because of the linear story-telling. Uncle Ben's death was more sad in the trilogy and it followed through up to the third movie. In the reboot, it wasn't focused as much, but the unifying element of the first and second movie was Peter Parker's parents. I was hardly interested in the approach and I'm really sorry, the spider injected with Peter Parker's dad's DNA doesn't convince me too much. I wasn't that much of a fan of The Amazing Spider-man when it came out because I was still hung up on Sam Raimi's trilogy, but the narrative wasn't as bad as The Amazing Spider-man 2. There were a lot of mood whiplash through out the movie, and too many things were going on, which were resolved in a rush. If the movie had only focused on only Electro it would have been fine. I hate how at the end, the movie squeezed in one of the most defining moments in Spider-man's life. It should not have been there. I felt that squeezing it in the last moment didn't give it the impact that it deserved. It felt like a footnote to the overall movie. I knew it was inevitable, but I didn't expect it to be in this movie. 


Overall, both franchises had their hit and misses. Some things were done well in the reboot, but there's still a lot to work on for it to, I guess, be more memorable than the trilogy to me. 

In my books so far, the worst super hero movies has got to be Green Lantern, Man of Steel, and the X-Men films still remain amongst the Best in my list. Batman ? Somewhere in the middle, but it depends on which of the Batman movies you watch.

Next, my cinema trip would be for X-Men Days of Future Past. 


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