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Movies That Will Suck: The Amazing Spiderman
Spiderman Will Suck
You know that movie where a normal kid gets super powers, and realizes that he has to use those powers for good, because his Uncle died trying to teach him that lesson about personal responsibility and citizenship or something, and then that kid goes off to don ridiculous costumes and saving the world? Yeah, I loved Star Wars, too. How many times does Hollywood think we will watch the same movie over and over and over again? How often will you let Hollywood make this movie, and charge you a ridiculous ticket price? Didn't we just have a Spiderman series? It wasn't so long ago, was it? Do we really need another Spiderman movie, with a younger set of actors, and a whole new wave of tie-in properties to woo unsuspecting spectacle junkies that maybe this time, it won't be Battleship: The Movie?
We do not need this movie. Why does Hollywood keep making and remaking these same superhero flicks over and over again?
Am I right? Will Spiderman Suck?
Hollywood Likes Heroes. No, not those heroes, Joseph Campbell's Hero Myth Structure Heroes.
Hollywood films that cost a zillion dollars to produce are not interested in making great art. They are interested in making eight times a zillion dollars, period. If the marketing department can sell it, and enough tickets and DVDs move, then the movie is a "good" movie, even if it is Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. To do this, they rely on a reliable, easy-to-sell, formula that had a start in popular Hollywood films in the Star Wars films. This formula, the Hero's Journey, is a staple of cinematic storytelling of the unimaginative variety. Hollywood likes it because people haven't noticed that every single movie with a single lead character made in the last thirty years shamelessly steals all or most of this basic outline. The emotional beats are the same whether you're talking The Legend of Bagger Vance or the Matrix. (They're basically the same movie, with different art direction. Instead of hopping through cyberspace to fight sentient viruses, they're playing golf against their personal demons.)
Anyway, I'm losing my point here. My point is that this movie, The Amazing Spiderman will have the same formulaic plot that The Legend of Bagger Vance had. Formulas aren't automatically awful, but they certainly don't help when you're trying to watch a movie that is substantively different from the Spiderman movie that had the same plot, only a couple years ago. In other words, the latest installment will only succeed in changing the face of Spiderman beneath the mask, and maybe throwing a few new CGI maneuvers at the screen, and locating some new forms of product tie-ins that subliminally advertise new products to help earn back the gajillion dollars it cost to make another Spiderman.
Good Spiderman is Comic Book Spiderman
So What If There's a Formula? It's Used Because It Works!
A formula is not enough of a reason to expect abject awfulness in a film. Some of my favorite films are formulaic. For instance, I loved Kill Bill, and this was little better than a Hero's Myth wrapped in quirks of Asian and Old West Grindhouse cinema. It isn't necessarily the formula, or even the tired fact that Spiderman has been played out so much, because both of these things can still lead to a great movie. Let's just look at who is involved in the project and see if they have the ability to surprise us with the quality of their work based on their past projects and experiences.
First, I must point out that there are six screenwriters listed at IMDB. Anyone with any knowledge of screenplay writing knows that once you see more than two, there's pretty much no telling how much doctoring, tweaking, and fiddling was done by countless marketing, business, and creative managers that all believe in their own genius who have probably never taken a college-level English class in their life. This screenplay will inevitably live up to the axiom that is so true: Too Many Chefs Spoil the Soup. Don't believe me? Riddle me this, then: How often do you see an Oscar or other major award for a Screenplay that was written by more than two people? I cannot think of a single film in the history of cinema that won a screenplay award with more than two authors. Two's company, three's a crowd. Four? That's going to be a cluster of something that rhymes with duck. There will be cliches. Inevitably, the film will not pass the Bechdel test. The forced, stilted dialog will stumble out of the vacuous mouths of actors whose only major talent is being a blank slate of pronunciation for the plodding dialog.
Who else is involved in this inevitable train wreck? Marc Webb has directed exactly one major Hollywood film: 500 Days of Summer. That film was a consumerist shell borrowing tropes of the work of original artists like Wes Anderson and Diablo Cody and mumblecore cinema. Perhaps his work in will become a cinematic classic. I doubt it. Jesse McCartney:Up Close
Perhaps the amazing performance of Spiderman will carry the film? James Garfield is just the latest line of Tiger Beat models that also act. He was most notable for playing an overdressed and easily-fooled Business major in an Oliver Stone conspiracy flick about the evils of Facebook's Mark Zuckerburg. He has been outshined in every film he's been in, and he is not ready to carry a film on his own. He will be little more than a blank voice slate for the CGI animators to bend into impossible positions and fights that defy physics as much as they defy logic.
But the CGI will be AMAZING! Come on! Let's Watch New York get BLOWN UP!
The CGI will be amazing. I think it is a great, depressing thing to see that the last thirty years of cinema are not being dominated by innovators of artistry, but innovators in effects. Instead of finding new ways to connect ideas and people in narrative forms, cinema is finding ways to charge more per ticket, without offering more in value but for a few vistas and some strange camera angles on fights and explosions.
Nora Ephron is dead. Long live Nora Ephron.