The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)

You Seriously Think I’m a Cop in a Skintight Red and Blue Suit?

Another week has come when I’ve been able to secure a free Tuesday and used it to get to a movie theater for a double feature.  If I had planned it better, I might have been able to make it to three movies, but I don’t plan things.  I just showed up for the first show of one movie I wanted to see and then found out what the nearest other movie I wanted to see.  That problematically meant that I’d have to sit around outside for an hour proofreading old reviews, but I’ll get to that second movie later.  The first one is a movie I was first not excited to see because they were just rereleasing a comic book movie origin story with a different set of actors, but then trailers for the movie won me over.  And it’s a comic book movie, so I was going to see it either way.  Let’s find out if you should go as I review The Amazing Spider-Man, based on characters created by Steve Ditko and Stan Lee, written by James Vanderbilt, Alvin Sargent, and Steve Kloves, and starring Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans, Denis Leary, Martin Sheen, Sally Field, Campbell Scott, Embeth Davidtz, Chris Zylka, Irrfan Khan, C. Thomas Howell, and Stan Lee.

Richard (Campbell Scott) and Mary Parker (Embeth Davidtz) dump their young child off with his Aunt May (Sally Field) and Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) and leave, seemingly in a hurry and never to be seen again.  Later, he grows into Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield).  Well, he was Peter Parker before he grew up, but you know what I meant.  He’s in high school later in the movie, where he’s a nerd who is bullied by Flash Thompson (Chris Zylka) and Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) is the object of his affections.  At home, Peter finds a briefcase owned by his father, and in it finds paperwork from his studies with herpetologist Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans).  He goes to OsCorp to see what Connors is working on and, while he’s exploring the facility, gets bitten by a genetically modified spider, which helps him develop spider-like abilities like wall crawling, enhanced strength and agility, and a danger-sensing spider sense.  No one could have seen any of this coming.  Well these powers will invariably bring great responsibility, ones that he chooses to ignore when he decides not to stop a robbery because the clerk was a dick and that leads to Uncle Ben being shot and killed.  Peter embarks on a vigilante crusade to find the killer.  Meanwhile, Dr. Connors takes his experiments to help regenerate his arm to the next level by testing on himself, and it winds up turning him into a giant lizard.  Can this man-spider put aside his own quest to defeat this lizard-like creature?  Yeah, probably.

I liked this movie, but some of the stuff fell pretty flat with me.  The story was fine, but I think a lot of the dialogue needed a lot of work.  The story is a bit of a reimagining of the classic Spider-Man story that the majority of us – and certainly the nerdiest of us – have heard numerous times.  Peter Parker gets bitten by a spider that’s been tested on somehow, he gets special powers, his uncle gets killed in some way that is arguably Peter’s fault, and he becomes Spider-Man.  That’s all the same.  This time the story was a little more modernized as genetic engineering is more of a today thing than radioactivity.  That was a big deal closer to the time Spider-Man was created and that’s why that was 90% of their origin stories.  They also go with a common store robbery to get things started instead of having Spider-Man be ripped off by his wresting promoter.  I have a feeling the store robbery is a more common thing there too.  The only problem with that is that I’m with Peter: I would’ve let that dude rob that douche hole of a store clerk too.  Sure, it worked out poorly for him this time, but the lesson needed to be learned.  But I’m not the kind of nerd that thinks things can’t be changed because they’re gospel, but I am still pleased that they stuck to the basics.  The Tobey McGuire movie stuck more towards the story I knew, but this movie also had the web shooters instead of Peter making webs out of his own wrists.  It was perhaps a little shaky in how they made Peter intelligent.  He was indeed smart, but he also left his camera with “Property of Peter Parker” written on the back of it for an enemy to find, so I’d say he’s not quite smart enough.  He also takes off his mask far too much for my liking.  I’ll take your word for it that it’s still Peter, but what’s the purpose of wearing a mask if you can’t go five minutes without taking it off in front of a kid or the police?  They also didn’t go for the Mary Jane character in this movie, probably because Kirsten Dunst already uglied up that role a while ago.  Gwen Stacy is an acceptable substitute.

I’d say the biggest problem I found with this movie is the dialogue.  Spider-Man had a good couple of one-liners in him that were amusing, but much of the dialogue just falls flat.  I feel like it’s most evident whenever Peter and Gwen were talking.  I understand that they’re supposed to like each other and probably be nervous with each other, but it just seemed like no one actually wrote dialogue sometimes, telling the actors to go out there and make it up as they go along, but neither one had anything to say.  The best example is the scene they show after the credits, where a hidden figure asks Connors if Peter knows about his father and Connors just says, “No.”  Good one, bro.  I did like the use of Peter’s cell phone to listen to the voicemail from Uncle Ben posthumously.  It felt like Superman listening to the message from his father, Jor-El, after his death.  Maybe it’s just because Martin Sheen and Marlon Brando were in Apocalypse Now together.

The look of the movie was also great times.  There were no parts of the movie that were horribly computer generated as in the first Spider-Man movie, so crawling up the walls looks great.  The suit looks just as good as always, and I really liked how they unveiled it slowly, piece by piece, until the full reveal after seeing Spider-Man through a first-person perspective that finally revealed it by having him land on a reflective building.  They use reflection to good effect later on too when Connors is standing by a glass door and looking at his reflection in a way that looks like he has both of his arms.  I didn’t like this door later because seeing “Curtis” in a reflection apparently makes me read “Citrus” for a while and get really confused.  There’s also a part of the movie where Spider-Man is trying to find the Lizard in the sewers and shoots webs down all the different tunnels and waits in the web until one of them vibrates to tell him something is down there.  I thought this was a really clever idea on the part of the writers, taken straight from nature.  I liked all of the action scenes in the movie too.  Spider-Man never used his webs so well in a fight in the other movies.  He balls up the lizard with them, pulls himself through the lizard’s legs, and pretty much uses his webs in every imaginable way.  It was all very exciting.

I liked all the performances in this movie, but it seems like they got some pretty solid actors to do this stuff.  I think I prefer Tobey McGuire, but Andrew Garfield did a commendable job.  He had all the wit and charm as Spider-Man, and all the nervousness and lack of confidence as Peter.  I much prefer Emma Stone to Kirsten Dunst, though.  I’ll go into it more when I get around to the first three Spider-Man movies, but Mary Jane was supposed to be a supermodel whereas Gwen Stacy was just a regular girl.  I suppose they went with Emma Stone because they couldn’t find many actresses uglier than Dunst.  Yeah, I said it!  Maggie Gyllenhaal was probably unavailable.  Well they just got tired of looking so they hired someone good looking instead.  And she’s incredibly cute and charming in this movie.  I also liked how she used every man’s weakness against her father when she was trying to hide the fact that Peter was in her room.  Women probably already know this, but if you start talking about cramps and menstruation stuff, most men (myself included), will curl up into a ball and start humming to themselves while crying.  I really liked Denis Leary as her father too.  He was funny while still being intimidating to Peter in every way.  I think the Lizard was a great villain to go to, the other big ones already having been used in the other movies.  I was also a fan of him because my dad was a herpetologist, which makes them the best kind of people.  Rhys Ifans also does a great job at it.  One could expect that Stan Lee would also be popping in for a bit in this movie.  I say make sure you look out for his scene, because it’s phenomenal, and quite possibly the best scene he’s ever been in for one of these movies.

Though I don’t necessarily feel that Spider-Man required a reboot so soon, they did a pretty good job of it.  The story is the same one we’ve seen in the comic books for the most part, but the changes they made were welcome and added a little bit more modern feel to the Spider-Man story.  The look was great, the action was fantastic and exciting, and I liked all of the performances, some even better than the original movie (Kirsten Dunst!).  The only complaint I have about this movie is that there is a large amount of dialogue that falls flat.  Altogether, I was satisfied with the rebooted Spider-Man, and I think you will be too.  It’s worth catching in a theater, but I’m guessing it won’t blow your mind.  The Amazing Spider-Man gets “I think he’s trying to do something maybe the police can’t” out of “Your father and I were going to change the lives of billions.”

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people.  Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense.  Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated.  You can also add me on FaceBook and Twitter.  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.

Camel Spiders (2011)

As I Said, Military Screw Up All the Way.

The impetus for today’s movie, as best I can tell, is the fact that my friend Phil’s parents did not hug him enough as a child, turning him into the asshole that he is today.  Exactly one month ago, I came across a bug in my back yard that I was unfamiliar with, and it also happened to be one of the creepiest looking creatures I’d ever seen in person.  I quickly rushed my pets inside and away from the creature and promptly looked it up on the internet, finding out that it was a creature known as Solifugae, or more commonly known as a camel spider.  After finding out about it, I promptly posted about it on Facebook.  That lead to Phil requesting a certain movie that both he and I had seen available in RedBox, and both had decided we had no interest in watching it.  But I don’t really have control of my movie going fate these days, and Phil took advantage by requesting today’s movie.  Let’s see how that worked out for me in my review of the movie Camel Spiders, written by J. Brad Wilke, written and directed by Jim Wynorski, and starring Brian Krause, Melissa Brasselle, C. Thomas Howell, Diana Terranova, Gigi Erneta, Jon Mack, Michael Swan, Hayley Sanchez, Kurt Yaeger, Corey Landis, Michael Bernardi, Matthew Borlenghi, and Hugh Mun.

Capt. Sturges (Brian Krause) and his team are involved in a shootout in the Middle East that is abruptly ended by a group of camel spiders that slaughter their enemies.  The Americans did not leave unscathed, as Sturges gets shot in the leg and one of his longtime friends is killed.  He decides to take the body back to his family personally, but did not decide to take the camel spiders that crawled into the body bag.  Later, in Arizona, Sheriff Beaumont (C. Thomas Howell) is chasing a speeder down an empty highway when he crashes into the vehicle containing Sturges, Sgt. Shelly Underwood (Melissa Brasselle), the body, and the spiders.  The coffin is knocked out of the truck, and the camel spiders escape into the desert.  These spiders breed quickly and spread throughout the town, wreaking havoc wherever they go, and the survivors need to band together to make me want to kill myself.

This movie is basically based completely around the internet phenomenon that the camel spiders became.  When a picture of what appeared to be a gigantic spider came out, people instantly seemed to believe it.  I personally decided to notice that it was two spiders connected together and that you could see the guy’s hand that was holding it, showing that they weren’t too impressive in size.  Is this a flimsy premise to base your movie on?  You bet your sweet ass it is!  Even if the movie was well done, I still would’ve found my reaction lessened by my own experience with the creature.  My readings showed that these creatures only get about 6 inches long, are not poisonous at all, and also aren’t vicious unless you go grab one and fuck with it.  But I understand the suspension of disbelief that comes along with watching a movie, so I don’t knock it for that.  I knock it because it’s shitty.  The writing in this movie is done in a way that makes me feel pretty confident that the writer was not paying attention to this movie.  They say pretty early on, amongst their other misrepresentations about the camel spider, that the creature can reproduce in a matter of days, yet when they arrive in Arizona, they have literally gotten themselves into every corner of the town within a matter of minutes.  I could understand the spiders getting to the kids that went out into the desert where they escaped, but how do you explain the spiders waiting for the girl at the gas station who left the kids in the desert, having already killed the people in the gas station and set up an elaborate trap where they hid in the ice box?  And, on top of that, how do you explain me having to watch the scene of the 4 kids that have nothing to do with the rest of the movie?  There was another scene where a science class is out studying local flora and fauna and they come across a camel spider but the teacher points out that it’s not a spider (which is true) and tells the student to count its legs.  “It only has 6!” he proclaims, proving conclusively that he lacks the ability to count.  The creature clearly has 8 legs and two arms in the front that could be mistaken as legs!  See the picture that I took directly from that scene.  When some of these students escape, one of the students proclaims that he was able to take a picture of it while he was running away from them, but he forgets to explain how he was able to lay a black mat underneath the spider and get it to hold still while he was running from it, or how his shitty prepaid phone can apparently tell you what something is from a picture you took.  I don’t think my iPhone can do that!  This is also the same guy that investigates the house for ways the spiders might be able to get in, proudly proclaiming that he can’t find any access to the house.  Apparently that wall that was missing a few feet away from you doesn’t count.  Maybe you should’ve taken a picture of it with your LG Revere and had it tell you that this is blatant access.  It can probably also answer the girls question when she asks how to kill them.  Really?  They’re spiders!  You step on them or hit them with a shoe.  Or, you can do what they did and find some kitchen knives that they tape to sticks to make spears that they don’t try to stab the spiders with so that they can keep their weapons, instead opting to throw the spear into a room of spiders and run away, leaving yourself defenseless.  The worst part about dealing with this group is that they don’t even remember to wrap up their part of the story.  The guys both die, the girls make it into a car that they can’t get to turn on, and then they cut to the other group.  I guess we can assume what happened, but it was nice of them to forget to wrap it up.  Basically, it seemed as if the writer was smart enough to not watch the movie he wrote, but the director had so much respect for the material that he wouldn’t allow it to be altered so that any of it would make sense.  But since the writer and the director are the same person, I have no explanation.

There’s more that’s wrong with the story, but that paragraph was getting too long.  ON WITH THE SHITTINESS!  I had a lot of problems with the story going on around the main group as well.  First off, apparently our army can’t hit anything.  In their shootout in the beginning, the bad guys shot two of the Americans, but the Americans weren’t able to even knick the broadside of a barn they were fighting.  Thankfully for them, they were saved by bad CG bugs.  Later, we meet the main cast beyond the Sherriff and the two Army people and they just try to shove all their backstory that never turns into anything down our throats really quickly by randomly jumping from table to table.  We have the kindly diner owners, the evil-y business guys that want to buy the diner to expand their mining operation or build a strip mall or some other cliché plot device, the family with relationship troubles, and the pacifist/pussy that randomly hates the military.  This motley crew gets smashed together to survive, trying to coordinate an airstrike from the Army, but that makes me laugh too because the captain tells them something on the radio, the guy repeats it, and then the radio loses signal.  Then the sergeant asks if he thinks they got that last part that they just repeated.  I would stab that bitch in the head with a fucking scissor.  The pacifist character is instantly annoying because he’s so abrasive and randomly hates the military people for no good reason.  And he refuses a gun because he’s a pacifist, but does that really apply to spiders that are trying to kill you?  I understand not wanting to go to war because of your cowardice … I mean principals, but these spiders are trying to kill you.  Maybe it would’ve made more sense if the guy was a PETA supporter, but then I’d want him to get killed even more.  One thing that made me crack up too was later, when the captain, the sergeant, and the 15-year-old daughter of the couple with troubles were escaping the building and the captain randomly orders the sergeant to pick up the girl and carry her outside even though she was perfectly capable of walking.  They also graced us with a random scene of two other Army people driving to Arizona, talking about getting some breakfast, deciding against it, and continuing on with their drive.  …Thanks for that, movie!  The ending was not well thought out either.  They basically just bombed the building the large group was in and cut to a scene later where they were talking about mopping them up.  My guess is that it took them that long to get bored of the movie, which means they have way more patience than I do.

I wondered if it was right to mock this movie for its visuals.  Obviously they didn’t have a lot of money so I’m sure they couldn’t afford the top of the line stuff, but they actually weren’t that bad.  The spiders often stood out as fakey, but they were fairly convincing when attacking people, shooting out some fake blood, occasionally removing limbs.  It was decent enough for what it was.

The performances were either mediocre or flat out bad.  I feel like you can’t rag on them that much because they probably just grabbed some random people around town and told them spiders were attacking them.  If they’re actors, I’m sorry … that this is what you call acting.  Brian Krause and C. Thomas Howell were decent enough, as were some of the people in diner group.  The main evil corporate guy was a little on the nose and the random waitress from the bar was pretty unconvincing, especially since the people in the movie acted like she was attractive though she was far from it.  I guess they deserve some praise for that performance.  Melissa Brasselle was pretty fuckin’ awful.  I don’t know that it was the case, but she reminded me of what happens when you hire a porn star that wants to stretch her acting chops for a movie.  Also, does no one on this movie know anything about the military?  Because you allowed her to show the pacifist how to hold a rifle by putting the butt of the gun under her armpit, and even allowing her to shoot in a random and wild way that would happen if someone actually did put the butt of a gun under her armpit to fire, but I’m pretty sure the Army teaches you to put the butt against your shoulder.  They also tell you to salute with your hand on your forehead and not on the bridge of your nose as if you’re trying to keep the sun out of your eyes.  The group of students were all pretty awful actors, but whoever the redhead was did a pretty decent job, and was actually attractive.  Also, for a movie this shitty, I was very surprised to find that no boobs were exposed during the making of this movie.  You have to give me SOMETHING, movie!

In summation, Camel Spiders is an awful movie.  I downright refuse to allow movies the excuse of “campiness” to explain why their movie is awful, so this movie gets nowhere with me, and it gets there fast.  The story did not pay attention to itself, overflowing with plot holes and plenty of things that made no sense, and boiling down to a rip-off of Arachnophobia with 1/100th of the quality.  It’s basically just two or three groups of people running away from CG spiders until they decide they’ve filmed enough things and smash the story to its unsatisfying conclusion.  Also, neither the look nor the performances offer anything to watch here.  If you haven’t figured it out by now, I’m telling you not to bother with this movie.  It’s true that this movie would be perfect fodder for a night of drinking and mocking the film, but if you’re like me and you watch it solo, you’ll feel like you need to try really hard to get your $1 back from RedBox.  Camel Spiders gets “6 stars … Oh, I miscounted … negative 20” out of “An unimaginable horror.”

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people.  Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense.  Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated.  You can also add me on FaceBook and Twitter.  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.