Archives for posts with tag: Spiderman

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How soon is too soon? Always when we’re talking about getting back together with your ex, but if we’re discussing superhero reboots, it seems like maybe 5 years is too soon.

So obviously, The Amazing Spiderman was bound to meet with some skepticism coming so soon after the last Spiderman franchise. How could it, in terms of technology, in terms of story, in terms of imaginative consciousness, be different enough to separate itself from its all-to-recent predecessor? Marc Webb and company set out to show that it was possible, despite the odds. And, to be honest, this film has some charming elements. In fact, we can say that this is a really fun, maybe even really good film, at least through the first half. Andrew Garfield’s Peter Parker is likeable, nerdy, and yet still cool enough to be believable as a character who steps into a new role as a hero. His interplay with Emma Stone’s Gwen Stacy is awkward, fun, and has real chemistry. If this were a simple teen flick, that first movement would earn it a top rating. We might even say that the Peter & Gwen story has more spark in the beginning than Toby Maguire ever had with Kirsten Dunst. Added bonuses in this film include Martin Sheen as Uncle Ben and Dennis Leary as Captain Stacy, Gwen’s disapproving policeman father. Nice performances from both.

Unfortunately, though, the film doesn’t stay in Midtown Science High School and the story trundles along. I have to be honest that I stopped enjoying it from when Peter Parker fully actualizes his new identity as Spiderman. The special effects are reminiscent, the dialogue becomes very much what we expect from one of Marvel’s “up-beat” products, and well it just feels like more of the same. This is where the movie steps so solidly into the shadow of the last franchise, even if it has some nice nuances at certain points (cell phones exist! and Spidey’s web has a bit more…consistence of concept). The worst of it, though, is that Parker’s character loses its center. We have action, chatter, and battling, but Peter stops being much of a person. Every now and then the story includes a meaningful look, a line of dialogue about fixing what we started, some bits about responsibility, etc. But these things don’t really come together.

The take away is that it doesn’t feel like there was really any good reason to make this reboot, except for the fact that Marvel executives couldn’t dream of letting their cash cow lie dormant for too long, not generating millions in merchandizing revenues as kids around the word clamor for Spiderman underwear and lunch boxes. 

I really did like the first half, though. I preferred it to the last series, even. So even if I wouldn’t urge you to see this, I’ll be crossing my fingers that the second instalment will capitalize on the strengths of the first, and stop slinging the same tropes that we had before.

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Tony Stark makes enemies, fights them and his own demons! He also learns to make new friends and stop being afraid of the future.

Sound familiar? That’s because it’s our standard po-mo superhero film premise. Post-modern Batman battles with the villains, his conscience, and questions on the nature of justice. Po-mo Thor struggles with conflicts of loyalty and responsibility while fighting off his corrupt brother. Po-mo Spiderman ruminates on his sense of guilt while fighting the bad guys who have varying degrees of a baddy/goody dichotomy in them. You get the point: this is getting pretty canned, and once it is canned, then it’s opened up and doled out in equal portions to every new Marvel script. When will we just go ahead and get Po-mo Man, who discovers that his powers are socially constructed and who wonders if there really is meaning to the punches he lands on the super villain: Concreto Literali?!

(Nota bene: I’m deliberately throwing around the term “post modern” incorrectly. I don’t mean to suggest that this is what “po-mo” really is, but rather what pop culture has made out of po-mo concerns: psychologically fragmented superheroes in varying degrees of erotic costume. I suppose it should be said, though, that these heroes always do seem to piece it all together in the end, finishing as not so po-mo after all. They manage to shore up their fragments…making them, I guess, just ro-mo: romantic modernists. Or, in some cases, downright fascist pigs.)

All in all, I found this to be the least entertaining film of the current Iron Man series. The dialogue style was as familiar as old shoes, and Robert Downey Jr.’s Sherlock Holmes role. The effects were mostly what could be expected. The dilemmas were tired. The shticks were played out.

Worse: the Iron Man franchise is suffering from Halo syndrome. I’m referring to the ground-breaking video game series originally launched by Bungie Studios. What’s the syndrome? It’s when something fun and engaging, such as the first Halo game, begins to pile on the flash-factor in order to surpass  earlier success. Guns get bigger and more powerful, explosions larger and brighter, scale expands in every direction. As a result, the third instalment of the Halo series found the main character overpowered to the point of absurdity: he was a soldier with godlike abilities, and the little stuff was lost in the scale of it. Iron Man 3 is a textbook case: a high tech battle suit and cool weapons aren’t enough anymore, so at one point (SPOILER ALERT) we have Tony Stark calling in the help of upwards of thirty suits to fight the “bad guys.” There are some small details in an attempt to balance that out (a potato gun has its day!) but that doesn’t change the general trend towards “too much,” way too much.

A few positive points (and more SPOILERS): Guy Pierce was good. Also, I’m in love with the glowing girl villain played by Stephanie Szostak. I suppose I have to admire the special effects. And hey, the po-mo audience can get excited about the fact that “Iron Man” is an entity that traverses known and traditional boundaries, to the point where Pepper dons the suit at different moments and even flips the role of saved to savior. But that’s about it. Let’s have  Avengers again.