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Reviews Comments: I can't go back to the old ones now The Amazing Spider Man film/book review by Tomwithnonumbers

First off, I want to say I love(d) Spiderman2, I've said elsewhere in this review section that I believe that 2 is the best 'superhero' superhero film ever. And in a sense it still is, this is a different sort of film, but it's convinced me that actually really basic formula superhero films aren't good enough anymore.

This film has flaws, lots of them. Plotholes, they were missing 15 minutes of character progress for Spiderman, a whole half hours worth was needed to turn the Lizard into a villain that made sense. Effects were a bit off, tone yo-yoed etc

But this is a glimpse into just how much better a superhero film is when you actually care about the superhero. It's not a jab at comics, from what I've heard, Peter Parker does have a character in comics that fans love, but in the previous films there was less a character and more a trope we were expected to understand. He is the hero => he is good, she is female => she falls in love

This film is much more intelligent than that. Peter Parker is a person, he has multiple moods and motives that can't be summed up as 'nerdy'. More importantly Gwen is a person and an awesome proactive person with her own virtues to be admired as much as Peters. She'll do the right thing and she won't just scream. Their relationship comes together in pieces. When you spend time on the person who is the hero it's more fun to be with them as a hero.

Normally origins were a checklist. In the first, we understood why the Uncle Ben thing was powerful, but it was flat. Included because heroes have origins. Here it's clear Peter is just a kid, how could he be good? How could he take on all this responsibility when a month ago he wasn't even thinking about a career? We understand why he needs an origin.

The difference in the films is best shown with Aunt May. Aunt May was great in 1, but she wasn't a person, she was this all-wise fortune cookie whose job it was to spout the heroic lines. In this one Aunt May is a widow, a wife and a mother.

There are things from the old films we could have done with, there's a weird sci-fi tone here, the action is more thoughtful and still fun (particularly a lovely bit with a young boy) but the oldies were more clear and colourful. We needed the plotting of 2, but if I had to choose between that stuff and Peter Parker, I'll choose Peter Parker every time


  • Tomwithnonumbers
  • 11th Jul 12
Forgot to add, Peter Parker uses bing. Completely broke my suspension of disbelief
  • Tuckerscreator
  • 11th Jul 12
Indeed! This movie succeeds because of its thoughtful fleshing out of Peter Parker, Gwen, Aunt May, and Ben.
  • ManwiththePlan
  • 21st Jul 12
she is female => she falls in love

To be fair, was Gwen really that much different from this? Scenes with her in regards to her part in the conflict with Peter and her father, and her role in protecting the antidote from the lizard and ultimately saving the day, keeps her from being a Shallow Love Interest, but her biggest role in the film was still to fall in love with Peter for....why, exactly?
  • Tomwithnonumbers
  • 22nd Jul 12
The big big difference was that she wasn't in the love interest role, it wasn't something we were meant to know just because it's how these films roll. We saw the relationship develop pretty much exactly how young adult relationships develop and they spent time in each others companies getting to know each other and enjoying each other.

I'm still not explaining it right, but when Pete and MJ kiss there's this music and the scene is set and most of all, the film lets us know it's a big story moment, when Peter and Gwen do it, they're too young adults who've just snuck out from the eyes of the parents. It's like one would be cued by an orchestra and the other by some upbeat pop track.

I think the big thing is, if I agree that the two relationships are developed the same (which I personally didn't feel like, but I can understand it) and if neither are thematically important (which I do agree), the Raimi films tried to leverage it for a lot more motivation from us than the new one. MJ being kidnapped was the big motivator, their relationship failing was meant to be key narrative, lots of scenes where we were meant to upset they were arguing, the film asked us to be worried that Em was going off with another man etc.

But in this film, if the relationship was inconsequential, it didn't ask us to take story points from it, even when she was kidnapped, she wasn't Peter's prime motivator, in fact he was pretty much responsible for her being there, she was far more the reason Captain Stacey was there (which relies on the much stronger relationship of fatherhood) and Peter was planning to be there to stop the Lizard anyway. He doesn't even really have to save her and we're not expected to agonise over whether he can stop his Love from being taken away from him. She's in danger and we're expected to feel tension, but the tension is that she's an independent character that we are meant to like who put herself in that situation, whereas a love interest the tension is more is the person he loves going to make it.

It's a fairly subtle difference, but it makes the world to me
  • Tomwithnonumbers
  • 22nd Jul 12
EDIT: That sentence was about the most stupid thing I could right to other. I just meant I feel there is quite a big difference between the two, without all that 'world' melodrama :D
  • CasualBanshee
  • 28th Jul 12
The difference in the films is best shown with Aunt May. Aunt May was great in 1, but she wasn't a person, she was this all-wise fortune cookie whose job it was to spout the heroic lines. In this one Aunt May is a widow, a wife and a mother.

I'm hoping that you didn't intend to imply this, but it sounds as though you're scoffing at the idea of a woman having wisdom and giving a get Back In The Kitchen: it's like you're saying a woman's only concern should be caring for her family.

Again, I'm hoping this was unintentional.

  • MFM
  • 28th Jul 12
I thought it was pretty clear what he intended to say, given the line "but she wasn't a person," and I have to agree with the sentiment. Uncle Ben and Aunt May both received much greater characterization in Amazing Spider-Man. He was saying that instead of just being there to spout wisdom, Aunt May had an actual character by actually acting as a widow, wife, and mother, and the multiple facets which those entail. If you're going to play the 'kitchen' card, you have to remember that Aunt May is pretty domestic in either version, but she's a flat and boring character on top of that in the original trilogy.
  • CasualBanshee
  • 10th Aug 12

I'm not at all trying to "play card(s)." When I said it could read as Stay In The Kitchen, I wasn't trying to refer to actual domestic chores. I was commenting that the reviewer seems to say that Aunt May is a fuller character because she's "a widow, a wife and a mother." However, my own opinion on the new characterization aside, I find this statement problematic.

Aunt May was great in 1, but she wasn't a person, she was this all-wise fortune cookie whose job it was to spout the heroic lines. In this one Aunt May is a widow, a wife and a mother.

I understand the "fortune cookie" comment, but the wording of the review seems to suggest that motherhood and being a widow are somehow adequate characterization replacements for the relevant wisdom that's always been one of Aunt May's character traits.

When it says, Aunt May was great in 1, I assume the reviewer liked the performance, but thought that character fell flat because she was only present to say inspiring things.

But combined, it almost reads as, "Because now everything about her character directly relates to both her gender and her family, and she has no traditional wisdom, she's a better character."

I mean no offense by this. I just find this statement somewhat odd.
  • Tomwithnonumbers
  • 12th Aug 12
No MFM is right, I wasn't meaning to imply any of that at all and I'm in complete agreement with what he said. I have no objection with Aunt May being wise or clever, the problem was in 1 she wasn't wise or clever. You don't get wisdom or intelligence from a fortune cookie, you get a trite saying with no purpose or depth that people in the real world don't say. In 1 they didn't care enough about Aunt May to even give her personality. She was a device to move plot and fill the narrative of the trailers, not a person in the world.

Aunt May is a mother, you cannot close your eyes to that fact and this has absolutely nothing to do with equality. I'm treating men and women as equal by assuming nothing remarkable in any one person male, female or apricot blue fufilling their own life as they see fit. She was also married and widowed. And she's wise, but it's a wisdom that's been earned and is real thought and given. If we're talking gender tropes Wise Old Crone without personality except defined to serve the male protagonist is even more established than having husbands and losing them and that's all 1 gave us.

There was nothing gender related in what I said. It applies equally to Uncle Ben, just that he for obvious reasons wasn't in the majority of the former spiderman films. In 1 they also treat him like a fortune cookie, his purpose it to Say The Line and die. In this one they treat him like a father and a husband. He and Aunt May have relationships with people, they do things, they have goals, loves, dreams, pain, suffering, hardship, challenges. Uncle Ben doesn't even say The Line, instead he lives the substance of it.
  • Tomwithnonumbers
  • 12th Aug 12
Sorry I don't know if that's clear or it's a confused mess, but really I meant nothing gender attached.
  • ManwiththePlan
  • 10th Sep 12
(reads all the comments)

  • qtjinla15
  • 11th Sep 12
Why are you here? Why are you derailing the conversation? Its TV Tropes, reviewing movies is something we should really do. Anyway, my only complaint was not enough focus and development on the Lizard.

I'm sorry, but what sells me on the Lizard is this is the only movie where I felt like Spider-man was exactly in danger of being killed by his enemy.

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