Friday, August 10, 2012

"The Amazing Spiderman" (2012)

People scoffed when it was announced that the Spiderman franchise of films was about to be rebooted. After all it had been less than a decade since the series had started. Then again, stories about Spiderman are released in comic form monthly and have been for decades, so why shouldn’t multiple and frequent films be doable?

The verdict? 2012’s “The Amazing Spiderman” is, from a technical standpoint, far better than the earlier films. Effects have advanced. However, it is also better in other ways. The characterization of Peter Parker is more appealing and in many ways closer to the comic book version of the character. The villain is not as iconic, but more cinematic and impressive.

All of that doesn’t really help for one reason. It is hard to care about the story or the characters because there is a strong “been there, done that” vibe. It is essentially the exact same story as told in 2001’s “Spiderman.” We know what is going to happen and we know how it is going to happen. The problem is that comic book companies have not learned how to take a franchise film approach to their characters.

A better example and a model for superhero films to come would be the James Bond series of films. They put a new story out every few years, but when they change actors they don’t bother to start all over again. (“Casino Royale” might be the one exception to that rule, but one time in 20+ films is truly an exception.) The comic companies are too enamored with their “origin story.” They shouldn’t be. Tell a hero’s origin once, maybe, but as a rule just tell stories in which the hero already is.

The next tests of this idea will come next year with the Superman reboot and then close behind that, the new round of Batman stories following Nolan’s great, self-contained trilogy. For now, Spiderman was a frustrating mix of quality technique and tired old plot.

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