06 July 2012

The Road to a Blockbuster: Your Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Bro

It's another Summer Friday, and even though the major film of the week (and perhaps the season) came out this past Tuesday, we're taking a look at it here. Every week we're checking out the major commercial, critical, and cultural impacts to be had from the big Summer Mainstream Releases, and along with the wall-crawling Amazing Spider-Man (2012) this week we have Savages (2012) and Katy Perry: Part of Me (2012). Yep. I wonder who will win the Box Office? Let's start with the films that will obviously lose:

Maybe we will remember something more
about this movie than John Travolta getting stabbed...
Savages actually has a fair level of buzz, but it's starring three actors who couldn't have a lower, shittier profile right now. The shining light may be Kick-Ass himself, Aaron Johnson, although pairing him up with the awful and flat-acting Blake Lively and Box Office-Destroyer Taylor Kitsch is a death threat. There's also a menacing Salma Hayek and Benicio del Toro to mess with, though, the latter of which is apparently the most enjoyable part of the film, yet the most downplayed in marketing. And John Travolta gets stabbed - I feel like that should be a huge shocking moment that was very carelessly displayed in the trailers, and even commercials.

All in all, despite the fact that Mexican drug cartel problems are sort of relevant right now, this does seem like more of the same old crap, although Oliver Stone behind the camera may elevate its potential. Still, I've got think that in ten years this is known more as the "John Travolta gets stabbed" movie more than anything else. I mean, we have the "John Travolta with a Goatee" movie, and the other "John Travolta with a Goatee" movie, why not this one.

Then there's Katy Perry. This was apparently cobbled together in about two months with tons of preexisting footage that Big Boobs dumped on Paramount last February. This ought to be a drop in the water though, no one really cares about concert movies, even if they end up huge like Justin Bieber: Never Say Never (2011). I'm not sure how many people are actually invested in Katy's life story who also don't want to see Spider-Man. It's not going to work.

Lastly, we've got Spidey, himself. It's already had a pretty incredible week, thanks in part to an awkward Independence Wednesday. There are a lot of interesting things that can happen with this one. For once, a superhero is being rebooted that has had a nearly universally loved prior trilogy. Yeah, there's some bad blood towards that one, but should there be? There is however, a couple fair indications towards why this is awesome.

Why doesn't this happen all the time? There are hundreds of artists and writers who have left their mark on iconic comic heroes, and whether or not all of those stories were successful, pushing characters in new directions, whether it be the alternating campiness / broodiness of Batman or the varying degrees of Hulk's intellect, oftentimes a new set of eyes can do something for the character heretofore considered impossible. There's no reason (beside you know, comfortability, consistency, and cost effectiveness) why this can't happen all the time in movies, hell, Ghost Rider already saw the franchise do it this year.

With all the love for Raimi's Spider-Man Trilogy, I think we were blinded to that sort of web-slinger. Tobey Maguire, for one, was always a much better Peter Parker than Spider-Man, and almost unbelievably, was really too buff to play the nimble, flexible hero he is (I can't really believe I consider Tobey to be too huge, but it's true). We've been blinded to the idea that Peter Parker could be anyone else, but again, this has happened before. For decades we didn't think there could be a better Batman / Joker than Keaton / Nicholson, but The Dark Knight (2008) soundly proved that wrong and even made us reflect on how shitty Batman (1989) really is.

By all indications this is a very comic book-feely movie. The colours are loud and vibrant, the action is intense, the villain is a big crazy lizard-man (I really hope they keep intact his power to talk to Reptiles, that was always so ridiculous. Also they always fought in Florida, what's up, Curt?). It's interesting where they may take this new Spider-Man, though, thanks to the inauspicious inclusion of Gwen Stacy, who as we all know, was Peter Parker's first love who also dies. Considering how this film seems to indicate some of Peter's ridiculous origin with his parents and all that crap, are we not that far from The Jackal and a Clone Saga movie? Or even something more of a straight shot in the Ultimate Universe? That, my friends, would suck eggs.

So where do we go from here? Clearly The Amazing Spider-Man has assaulted every kind of media outlet it could find for the past two months. It's successfully propped itself up on the integrity of its characters and not the memory of Tobey Maguire. Beyond anything it ought to prove that with the best characters there isn't a need for a "reboot" or reliance on previous material. I mean, this isn't all that revolutionary - Val Kilmer did this with Batman nearly two decades ago.

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