Luke Graham dissects the latest trailer for Sony’s The Amazing Spider-Man…
So the third and presumably final trailer for Sony’s reboot of the Spider-Man franchise is now online… and I’m still feeling more apprehensive than amazed by what’s on show.
To explain my problems with this project, let’s go through the trailer, which you can see here, and pick out the best and worst moments. Plot analysis and mild spoilers ensue:
0:08 – Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) stands on top of a tall building overlooking the city. I like this shot, the composition is good and the nature of the web-swinging Spider-Man will allow for plenty of great footage of sweeping cityscapes, which is shown throughout the trailer. The visuals of this film look like they could be great. I also really like Garfield: he is a good actor and his voiceover as Peter Parker sounds very effective.
0:18 – Okay, here is our first full body shot of The Lizard, the alter-ego of Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans) and my first real problem with the movie. The Lizard is a great choice of villain for The Amazing Spider-Man; like some of Spider-Man’s other great nemeses (such as the Green Goblin or Doctor Octopus) he is a dark reflection of Spider-Man, of how the science that turned Peter Parker into a hero could have turned him into a villain, if he placed power before responsibility. He can engage with Peter on an intellectual level, being a fellow scientist, as well as a physical level. Brilliant.
However, pause the trailer and take a good look at The Lizard. Firstly, I do like the depiction of The Lizard as a big, green, HULKing brute (wait… have we not already had one of those this year?) and I’m also fine with the decision to go with The Lizard’s original snout-less face from his earliest appearances in the comics (see this), compared with the later more crocodile-like face (see that).
But… the CGI still looks bad, even this close to release. He still looks slick and oily and more like jelly. He doesn’t have a hard, scaly texture. He looks more like a fish-man instead of a lizard-man. And the actual face design? I’ve been trying to figure out why I don’t like it, and I’ve finally put my finger on it. He looks like a Goomba from that old and not very good Super Mario Bros. movie from 1993:
And the Goomba looks better! It has weight and texture! You must be doing something wrong when the monster in your 2012 movie actually looks worse than a 1993 movie.
0:20 – The building says Oscorp. This is where Curt Connors works and, according to the film, Peter’s father. If you’ve ever seen anything related to Spider-man before, you’ll know that the owner of the company is Norman Osborn, who becomes the Green Goblin. Is this setting up an opponent for a second or third movie? Yes. Is it subtle? No. At 1:26, a shadowy figure browbeats Connors, asking question in a dark serious voice. Could this be Osborn?
0:31 – The next problem I have with this film: the mystery of the parents. In the comics, Peter’s parents played very little role. It happened at such a young age, he matured and got over it. Here, the angry, broody Peter (you can tell he’s broody because he wears a hoodie and is a skater) could come across as whining. At 1:20 it alludes to Peter’s father actively being involved in how Peter will become Spider-Man.
This is a bad idea.
This suggests that becoming Spider-Man is preordained. It is part of Peter’s “destiny.” In the comics and original films, it was a pure and simple accident, which makes Peter’s decision to try and be a hero more profound, because these powers could have gone to anyone. It adds to why Spider-Man is such a relatable and popular character. Making it his “destiny” just feels like a cop-out.
0:40-0:57 – Peter interacting with Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) and getting chased by New York’s finest. It is quite clear here that at some point he will reveal his identity to Gwen.
0:59-1:01 – Peter Parker skateboarding… I dunno, for me it just comes across as trying to make Peter “hip” and “modern” in the most obvious way possible. Does anyone even use a skateboard anymore, except for fourteen-year-olds in your local park?
1:02: Now we hit a new low. While Garfield seems okay as Parker, I don’t think he is going to pull off Spider-Man. Firstly, the banter feels off. Check out the first minute and a half of banter in this Spidey cartoon:
Notice how the delivery is more relaxed, more jokey, and, most importantly, as if Spider-Man is having more fun? If the clip in the new trailer is their best example of Spidey’s trademark banter, then I’m worried. Spidey comes across as a jerk. According to an interview with Garfield, this is because Spider-Man is acting like an internet troll. Now, I hope the film makers know this, but people don’t LIKE internet trolls! How are we supposed to relate to and care about Spider-Man if he is acting like a douche bag?
Plus the costume is over-designed and looks terrible. I may even go as far as saying the simple suit from the 1977 TV show looks better:
Okay now I’m the one acting like a troll…
1:16 – Peter designing web-shooters. Okay this is cool, as it provides lots of story opportunities, but I think it highlights the main over arching problem this film will have.
It’s trying to do too much.
Think about it. It is needs to include flashbacks setting up the mystery of the parents; establish a whole bunch of characters; establish how Peter and Connors gain their powers; show Peter creating a secret identity and creating the shooters and fight crime; establish a relationship with Gwen AND reveal himself to Gwen AND include Peter being chased by the police and Gwen’s father, Captain Stacy; AS WELL AS setting up the villain for the next movie. This seems like too much.
If you re-watch Sam Raimi’s first Spider-Man movie, the story-telling is actually very economical and quick: Peter gets bitten by the spider within five minutes, has a costume by fifteen and is Spider-Man by about the twenty minute mark. Norman Osborn becomes a villain in just two or three scenes. The relationship stuff and revelations to Mary Jane are saved for the second movie.
Either this new film is going to be very long, or very little of the plot is going to be properly explained, will be rushed over and will feel very bloated. Maybe I’m wrong and they’ll pull off an elegantly crafted story with changes that make sense, but with great film-making power, must come great responsibility to story and plot…