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WHAT KINDS OF MINDS CREATE A STORY LIKE THIS?
May 7, 2014 8:37 AM   Subscribe

DESPITE ANY GOOD INTENTIONS, SOMETHING IS GOING HORRIFICALLY WRONG HERE. AND AS A RESULT, WE'RE DEALING WITH A WOLF IN SHEEP'S CLOTHING. A BRAND OF VILLAINY MASQUERADING AS HEROISM. The Film Crit Hulk on the problems with The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and its approach to storytelling and character.
posted by dng (155 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
For anyone that doesn't like the OH NO CAPSLOCK nature of the article this may help.
posted by dng at 8:40 AM on May 7 [23 favorites]


io9 had a pretty great spoiler FAQ about the movie too. (SPOILER WARNING: Spoilers!)
posted by kmz at 8:42 AM on May 7 [5 favorites]


I feel like someone should swing in and save Garfeild and Stone, two otherwise utterly charming young actors, from this bizarre science experiment of a series.
posted by The Whelk at 8:47 AM on May 7 [10 favorites]


The really depressing part is that between Stone's thoughts on women's roles in the movies and Garfield's remarkably enlightened take on Peter Parker as an underdog, they're being squandered not only as actors but as writers. Maybe Marvel will give them a deal for a graphic novel or something.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:49 AM on May 7 [11 favorites]


For anyone that doesn't like the OH NO CAPSLOCK nature of the article this may help.

That's helpful. Now, is there an equivalent bookmarklet for un-Hulk-y things that need a bit of HULKING UP?
posted by etc. at 8:50 AM on May 7 [3 favorites]


The world will be a better place when Disney acquires Spiderman and X-men rights. (I do have reasonably high hopes for Days of Future Past, but my point still stands)
posted by Twain Device at 8:50 AM on May 7 [1 favorite]


I haven't seen it, but from what I have read it appears they totally waste Paul Giamatti, and that I cannot forgive.
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 8:52 AM on May 7 [2 favorites]


SERIOUSLY, WHEN WILL THESE PEOPLE WATCH KUNG FU PANDA TO GET "IT"?

I am with the Hulk on the underappreciated greatness of Kung Fu Panda.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 8:54 AM on May 7 [16 favorites]


I have been having a weird experience where I have been attempting to watch the first one for several days now and have not yet made it far enough in the movie for him to be Spider-Man yet. I like superhero movies. As I was telling a friend last night, I wasn't really excited about this which is why I didn't watch it previously, but I didn't expect to want to slap the protagonist upside the head repeatedly. I'm not sure if I'm too old, or if it's just a thing. I guess on the up side, if it's that much of a problem, I'm not actually going to get to the second movie at this rate.
posted by Sequence at 8:58 AM on May 7 [2 favorites]


So, it was about what we should have expected after the vomit that was Spiderman 3?
posted by blue_beetle at 8:58 AM on May 7


I feel like someone should swing in and save Garfeild and Stone, two otherwise utterly charming young actors, from this bizarre science experiment of a series.

Well, there's some good news on that front...
posted by kmz at 8:58 AM on May 7 [3 favorites]


The world will be a better place when Disney acquires Spiderman and X-men rights.

I'm a bit uninterested in having Spider-Man in the Marvel/Avengers film universe, largely because it always seems to me that when Spider-Man is part of a wider world of ultra heroes, the "with great power comes great responsibility" dilemma of his existence seems to be rendered sort of redundant when there's hundreds of other equally powerful superbeings about (even if I did absolutely love Spider-Man And His Amazing Friends when I was a kid). I mean, if Iron Man and the Hulk exist, he could just go to college and let them deal with things.

But at least the Marvel films at least seem to know what and who their characters are supposed to be (the Hulk film and Thor having a sense of humour in the Avengers aside).
posted by dng at 9:02 AM on May 7 [4 favorites]


Wow, he kind of zeroes in on exactly the thing that's horribly wrong about Hollywood these days. Most of his criticism would apply equally well to Man of Steel, and a bunch of other films.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 9:03 AM on May 7 [8 favorites]


I've only seen the first one of the reboots, but that was mediocre enough to convince me not to see this one, an opinion confirmed by all the reviews I've read of the sequel. There's a weird lazy inevitability to them, like the people in charge of the rights decided they really had to have a Spider-Man movie franchise going even though no one really wanted to do it or had any ideas whatsoever. It's even more a shame because they've got a bunch of people in them that I otherwise like, there's just almost nothing interesting, compelling, or fun going on in them at all, which is a low enough bar that even other bad superhero movies (The Dark Knight Rises, for one) manage to clear it.
posted by Copronymus at 9:05 AM on May 7 [1 favorite]


Most of his criticism would apply equally well to Man of Steel, and a bunch of other films.

There you go.
posted by bigendian at 9:06 AM on May 7 [2 favorites]


There's a weird lazy inevitability to them, like the people in charge of the rights decided they really had to have a Spider-Man movie franchise going even though no one really wanted to do it or had any ideas whatsoever.

That's not far from the truth, since Sony has to keep making these movies at a steady clip or the rights revert to Marvel.
posted by kmz at 9:08 AM on May 7 [7 favorites]


I didn't expect to want to slap the protagonist upside the head repeatedly. I'm not sure if I'm too old, or if it's just a thing. I guess on the up side, if it's that much of a problem, I'm not actually going to get to the second movie at this rate.

I'm with you. This iteration of Spiderman is just an asshole. I'm done.

The Avengers stuff is what's keeping me from avoiding all superhero movies altogether at this point. (And some of that is kind of pushing my suspension-of-hating-stupid-stuff limits.)
posted by Foosnark at 9:09 AM on May 7


I feel like someone should swing in and save Garfeild and Stone, two otherwise utterly charming young actors, from this bizarre science experiment of a series.

I imagine they are only doing these movies to earn enough cash/favors to do a version of The Thin Man with Garfield and Stone as hipsterish Nick and Nora.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 9:10 AM on May 7 [19 favorites]


I'm a bit uninterested in having Spider-Man in the Marvel/Avengers film universe, largely because it always seems to me that when Spider-Man is part of a wider world of ultra heroes, the "with great power comes great responsibility" dilemma of his existence seems to be rendered sort of redundant when there's hundreds of other equally powerful superbeings about

I like the idea of doing a sort of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. thing with the Marvel universe and Spider-Man, having them show up in the background now and then. I loved the moment in the original Spider-Man comics when he tries to join the Fantastic Four, and feels incredibly alienated by their wealth and popularity. Spider-Man should be alienated from other super-heroes, but you need other super-heros to do that.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 9:11 AM on May 7 [2 favorites]


I have been mostly skipping the superhero stuff, on the big screen at least, this blog post sort of convinced me I haven't been missing much.
posted by Dr Dracator at 9:11 AM on May 7 [1 favorite]


filmcrithulk does actually have interesting things to say and it's annoying that the author feels they have to lean on the disjointed third person caps lock irony shield even though that horse has been dead for like five years now
posted by p3on at 9:12 AM on May 7 [17 favorites]


I mean, if Iron Man and the Hulk exist, he could just go to college and let them deal with things.

No, this would be totally against Parker's character. He feels a deep responsibility to do what he can with what powers he has. He could never, say, walk past a mugging because Iron Man is out there. His guilt over what happened to Uncle Ben means he will never fail to personally help if he can do so. It doesn't matter that there are other, more powerful people around.

That's not far from the truth, since Sony has to keep making these movies at a steady clip or the rights revert to Marvel.

From what I've read, Sony has a 5 year renewable option, meaning that principal photography on a new project (or an upfront payment for such) must begin within 5 years of the last project. Spider-Man 3 was 2007, and plans for 4 collapsed in 2010 due to a dispute with Raimi. That left them until 2012 to put something together...hence ASM in 2012.
posted by Sangermaine at 9:13 AM on May 7 [4 favorites]


That's not far from the truth, since Sony has to keep making these movies at a steady clip or the rights revert to Marvel.

Oh, shit, well, that explains it. They come off exactly like movies made to fulfill a contract.
posted by Copronymus at 9:14 AM on May 7 [4 favorites]


I imagine they are only doing these movies to earn enough cash/favors to do a version of The Thin Man with Garfield and Stone as hipsterish Nick and Nora.

YES PLEASE
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 9:18 AM on May 7 [6 favorites]


Is it just me, or is film crit hulk confusing tact with tactic?
posted by Mooski at 9:21 AM on May 7 [5 favorites]


Is it just me, or is film crit hulk confusing tact with tactic?

VOCABULARY BEYOND FILM CRITICISM IS NOT HULK'S STRONG POINT.
posted by Faint of Butt at 9:22 AM on May 7 [6 favorites]


Or "tact" with "tack," as in "take a different tack"?
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 9:24 AM on May 7 [5 favorites]


I am with the Hulk on the underappreciated greatness of Kung Fu Panda.

Kung Fu Panda was the first non-Pixar movie to successfully do what Pixar does as well or better than some Pixar movies. It never sinks to making pop culture references (although Toy Story 2 showed us how a master can break even that rule). I've never laughed so hard at a movie not telling a joke.
posted by straight at 9:24 AM on May 7


I imagine they are only doing these movies to earn enough cash/favors to do a version of The Thin Man with Garfield and Stone as hipsterish Nick and Nora.

So ... as Nick and Nora Charles.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 9:25 AM on May 7 [11 favorites]


See, I love the giant stupid spectacle of them, generally, and I am pretty forgiving. I know there are problems with the Avengers movies, but I love them to bitty bitty bits. I thought the Raimi Spider-Man 3 was... not great, but I didn't feel terrible for having paid for it. Usually, if something explodes it's worth it. Forgiving! Still can't do it. I'm just going to go watch Emma Stone lip sync on repeat for an hour and pretend that was the whole rest of the movie.
posted by Sequence at 9:26 AM on May 7


Wow, Mark Ruffalo really is the best Hulk. He nails it here. Maybe it's just a personal viewpoint thing, but I don't recall Hulk's reviews being this insightful when he was Edward Norton.

Don't even get me started on Bana, who I'm convinced was cast solely because his name actually sounds kind of like Banner.
posted by Naberius at 9:28 AM on May 7 [10 favorites]


WHAT THE FUCK IS WITH ORCI AND KURTZMAN AND MAGIC BLOOD? ... YUP! GROSS.

...WHY DOES NO ONE REALIZE THAT THE SECRET MESSAGE OF THESE MOVIES IS THAT THE CHARACTER'S HORRIBLE HUMAN INSTINCTS ARE SECRETLY RIGHT?

...SHOULD HULK FEEL BAD FOR SINGLING OUT ORCI HERE? NOPE. NOT ANY MORE. KURTZMAN MAY BE THE NICEST GUY IN THE UNIVERSE BUT THE TEAM HAS PROVEN THROUGHOUT EVERY MOVIE THEY HAVE DONE THAT THEY ARE COMPLETELY AND UTTERLY INCAPABLE OF GETTING AT A HUMAN ETHOS THAT ISN'T SOMETHING HULK FINDS MORALLY DISGUSTING, OR EVEN COMPETENTLY COHERENT...

...WHY DOES HARRY GET AN EQUALLY UGLY DESTINY-FILLED STORYLINE WITH EVERYTHING SET IN STONE FOR HIM? WHY IS HIS ONLY "CHOICE" TO GO DOWN THE OBVIOUS PATH OR ABSTAIN? SINCE WHEN THE HELL DID WE ACCEPT THIS KIND OF THING AS A CHOICE? WHY IS THIS THE WAY WE APPROACH STORYTELLING NOWADAYS ACROSS THE BOARD?

...WHY DOES NO ONE REALIZE THAT THIS ACTUALLY RUNS COUNTER TO THE ENTIRE POINT OF THE MARVEL SPIDER-MAN ETHOS IN THAT IT'S ABOUT REGULAR FOLK, THE NATURE OF INCIDENT, AND THE RESPONSIBILITY OF DUTY AND CHOICE? AND NOT MERELY CHOOSING BETWEEN FULFILLING A DESTINY OR NOT FULFILLING IT?
HULK WRITE NEXT STAR TREK MOVIE?
posted by The Underpants Monster at 9:33 AM on May 7 [14 favorites]


Wow, Mark Ruffalo really is the best Hulk. He nails it here. Maybe it's just a personal viewpoint thing, but I don't recall Hulk's reviews being this insightful when he was Edward Norton.

EXTRA BONUS HULK: THE HULK ON MARK RUFFALO’S HULK
posted by cjelli at 9:34 AM on May 7 [6 favorites]


thesis: there have been enough Spiderman movies. Can we do Aquaman? Sgt. Rock?
posted by thelonius at 9:43 AM on May 7 [2 favorites]


Whatever is in Amazing Spiderman 2 can't top the Piano Nightclub scene in Rami's Spiderman 3
posted by hellojed at 9:46 AM on May 7


Can we do Aquaman?

I got just the guy to write it!
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 9:46 AM on May 7 [1 favorite]


Even better, can we maybe stop beating the dead horse of superhero movies? Accept that what was once a subversive cultural touchstone is now just a cash cow for Disney, etc? Make the conscious decision to stop passively consuming neutered, spineless simulacra of what we thought was awesome when we were 12 and instead seek out what people who have something to say are actually saying, right now?
posted by grumpybear69 at 9:49 AM on May 7 [17 favorites]


But the Marvel movies are pretty fucking entertaining, Mr. bear69.

They actually learned that if you make a solid, fun product that it is more successful that a turd.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 9:51 AM on May 7 [5 favorites]


Whatever is in Amazing Spiderman 2 can't top the Piano Nightclub scene in Rami's Spiderman 3

I hope you mean it can't be as good as the nightclub scene. Because the idea that Peter Parker trying to go "dark" would actually just be ridiculous is great and well-executed. It's one of the best thing in Spider-Man 3. (Please don't mispell "Spider-Man" -- it makes Stan Lee cry.)
posted by straight at 9:52 AM on May 7 [4 favorites]


OnTheLastCastle, I did not want to be exposed to anus during lunch break
posted by thelonius at 9:52 AM on May 7


thesis: there have been enough Spiderman movies. Can we do Aquaman? Sgt. Rock?

This is why Marvel not having rights to its big guns (Spider-man, X-men) was actually a blessing in disguise. It forced them to dig a little deeper and make films about characters like Captain America, Iron Man, and Thor who would certainly be way down the list otherwise.

Which has eventually lead us to a world where Ant-Man and Guardians of the Galaxy movies are real things that are actually happening and that look like they might actually be good. A world where we got to see Batroc the Leaper fight onscreen...and it was awesome.

So maybe Sony should keep Spider-man, so Marvel can keep digging deep.

Because the idea that Peter Parker trying to go "dark" would actually just be ridiculous is great and well-executed.

Exactly. What we saw was what a nerd like Parker thinks acting like a cool bad-ass is like, which is why it was absurd.

Make the conscious decision to stop passively consuming neutered, spineless simulacra of what we thought was awesome when we were 12 and instead seek out what people who have something to say are actually saying, right now?

And what entertainment would enlightened higher beings such as yourself recommend we consume (sorry, appreciate)?
posted by Sangermaine at 9:53 AM on May 7 [2 favorites]


I don't get the _Kung Fu Panda_ thing. I thought it was dully predictable, and I really disliked the way the orphaned character people warned about adopting was of course not worthy of the master and inevitably was going to become one-dimensionally evil. I would have thought a lot more of it if there had been any subtlety to that character in the final confrontation.
posted by tavella at 9:58 AM on May 7 [1 favorite]


The trailers didn't look it good and the reviews make it sound teribble, so why see it? There's so much good stuff that I want to see, but don't have time to watch, so why pay money to watch this miserable experience?

I'll be at the midnight showing of Guardians of the Galaxy though.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:01 AM on May 7 [2 favorites]


OnTheLastCastle, I did not want to be exposed to anus during lunch break

Is that really true? In your heart? Is it?

Oh, yeah, I suppose it is probably true. Mwahahahaha!
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 10:02 AM on May 7 [1 favorite]


call me grumpy, but I'm with grumpybear69 all the way, and have been for quite some time. That is, complaining about the STUPID in big deal superhero anything is like complaining about the ingredients in Coke -- maybe you just shouldn't be consuming stuff that's aimed at twelve year olds.

Nothing against twelve year olds, by the way. They're just doing what they're supposed to be doing: not giving a shit about stuff like logic, reason, or even what's good for them. They're just getting off on all the velocity and explosions, and whatever sweetener's are being used in the corporate swill they're consuming. And this itself is not really a bad thing, because twelve is a passing thing, quickly followed by thirteen-fourteen-etc onward unto maturity, maybe even wisdom. The problem comes when a whole culture decides to lock in at twelve.

That's not good for anybody ... or Spiderman movies.
posted by philip-random at 10:08 AM on May 7 [6 favorites]


The problem comes when a whole culture decides to lock in at twelve.


Star Wars ruined everything.

 
posted by Herodios at 10:10 AM on May 7 [4 favorites]


thesis: there have been enough Spiderman movies. Can we do Aquaman? Sgt. Rock?

Or Wonder Woman?
posted by Foosnark at 10:11 AM on May 7 [2 favorites]


complaining about the STUPID in big deal superhero anything is like complaining about the ingredients in Coke

Except that he's not simply complaining that these movies are stupid. He's explaining that there's something deeply wrong -- something pathological about them.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 10:12 AM on May 7 [5 favorites]


Man, the last few paragraphs of this essay are truly bafflingly weird and terrible, like the author feels the need to bend over backwards apologizing for the suggestion that a zillion-dollar action movie might be, though who'd have ever thought, kind of reprehensibly dumb. The real question is why you'd think otherwise, or how blinkered your sense of cultural politics would have to be that you'd still be looking for genuine moral truths in corporate superhero movies of all places. Why would the supposed film "critic" Hulk feel the need to apologize this verbosely before actually daring to be, you know, critical?
posted by RogerB at 10:12 AM on May 7 [1 favorite]


So, it was about what we should have expected after the vomit that was Spiderman 3?
I was personally expecting one last Tobey Maguire appearance in "Spiderman 4: The Quest for Peace". They did the great One Where He Gets His Powers movie and the great One Where He Loses His Powers movie, and maybe that could have been a coincidence, but if they were so committed to recapitulating Reeves' Superman that they decided to continue on to the crappy One Where He Faces His Bad Self movie, why not finish the whole set?
posted by roystgnr at 10:13 AM on May 7 [9 favorites]


Man, the last few paragraphs of this essay are truly bafflingly weird and terrible, like the author feels the need to bend over backwards apologizing for the suggestion that a zillion-dollar action movie might be, though who'd have ever thought, kind of reprehensibly dumb. The real question is why you'd think otherwise...

The Avengers. It wasn't dumb, quite the opposite and made a billion zillion dollars. You'd think studios would be all over that, because it seems pretty straight forward. But evidently not.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:16 AM on May 7 [2 favorites]


That is, complaining about the STUPID in big deal superhero anything is like complaining about the ingredients in Coke -- maybe you just shouldn't be consuming stuff that's aimed at twelve year olds.

But there are clearly different levels of quality in superhero movies, from shit like the Elektra film to something like The Dark Knight which is almost universally heralded, even by professional critics (it's sitting at 94% on Rotten Tomatoes right now), as good. Or The Avengers, which isn't held up as quite as great but is good and fun at the same time.

I'm not saying that The Dark Knight or the Avengers are perfect, but it's demonstrably silly to declare SUPER HERO MOVIES = ALWAYS STUPID AND TERRIBLE SO WHY BOTHER SAYING ANYTHING.

I think a better beverage-based analogy would be beer: there are many kinds of beer, from utter shit to amazing quality, but to a wine snob it's all just swill for the idiot masses.

So maybe you just don't care for beer, and that's fine, but it's silly to say it's all the same.
posted by Sangermaine at 10:17 AM on May 7 [21 favorites]


I'm not saying that the Dark Knight is perfect, but it's demonstrably silly to declare SUPER HERO MOVIES = ALWAYS STUPID AND TERRIBLE SO WHY BOTHER SAYING ANYTHING.

And given the budgets involved, why not just go ahead and throw a bit more at the writing?

(As long as they promise not to get too much in the way of the pretty pictures and loud noises.)
posted by notyou at 10:21 AM on May 7


Damn... HULK SMASH.
posted by grimjeer at 10:23 AM on May 7


I really disliked the way the orphaned character people warned about adopting was of course not worthy of the master and inevitably was going to become one-dimensionally evil.

Yeah, that part could be better, but (even ignoring the 2nd movie), Po is clearly also adopted and no one cares or even mentions it. Po loving Kung Fu more than noodles is played purely as a son wanting to follow his dreams, not as evidence that Mr. Ping isn't his "real" dad. The plot has some problems, but the script and the voice/animated acting are fantastic.
posted by straight at 10:26 AM on May 7 [1 favorite]


stop passively consuming neutered, spineless simulacra of what we thought was awesome when we were 12 and instead seek out what people who have something to say are actually saying, right now?

Except some of those people are saying those things, right now, in comics. Some of them are doing it in comics that have existed for decades. Some of them are doing it in comics that are brand new. Some of them are saying really interesting and worthwhile things in movies with big explosions.

I do like my explosions, I am forgiving, but I am not at all forgiving of the idea that anything comics-related is juvenile and worthless. At twelve, yes, I was interested in comics. I was borrowing from friends everything I could get my hands on about the Legacy Virus because I was losing a family member to AIDS and my family wouldn't talk about it. The stuff we got out of superheroes at twelve was not always big explosions. It's issues like--"identity" and "responsibility" and "what the hell does patriotism mean anyway" and "if we could kill all the bad guys, should we?" and "how do you find a place for yourself when you are Different" and these are not questions that died when we turned thirteen. Good comics, good movies can do amazing stuff with these ideas.
posted by Sequence at 10:30 AM on May 7 [17 favorites]


And given the budgets involved, why not just go ahead and throw a bit more at the writing?

It's not a question of the writers not getting enough money, but studios dictating the final product. Too many chefs in the kitchen!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:31 AM on May 7 [2 favorites]


I think the biggest takeaway from The Amazing Spiderman 2 for me is it demonstrates how confusing and all over the place the rights to the Marvel superhero properties are. I mean, why would Marvel allow the release of TASM in theaters when another superhero epic (the superior-in-every-way Captain America: The Winter Soldier) is still playing down the hall? And X-Men comes out later this month.
posted by jpolorolu at 10:32 AM on May 7 [1 favorite]


And given the budgets involved, why not just go ahead and throw a bit more at the writing?

The screenwriters were Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, authors of the Star Trek and Transformers movies. Their work has grossed some three billion dollars, and I suspect they command commensurate paychecks.
posted by Iridic at 10:43 AM on May 7 [1 favorite]


I mean, why would Marvel allow the release of TASM in theaters when another superhero epic (the superior-in-every-way Captain America: The Winter Soldier) is still playing down the hall? And X-Men comes out later this month.

Because Marvel/Disney has no say over the Spider-man and X-Men properties. What happened was in the 90s Marvel was strapped for cash so they handed out film rights to their various properties like candy to whoever was buying.

At the time it didn't seem like such a completely bad idea because at that point superhero films had met only limited success (basically only the Superman and Batman movies had ever gone anywhere). Then Blade saw decent success, and X-men then Spider-man saw enormous mega success, and suddenly comic films were hot. Now there's no way Sony would ever give up Spider-man.

As I wrote above, the rights were given in the form of renewable options, which the studios that own them will now never let lapse and revert to Marvel. Though it does happen: Iron Man, for example, was owned by New Line until it reverted back to Marvel in 2005, and last year Marvel got Daredevil, Ghostrider, Punisher, and Blade back.

An interesting twist is that the properties were apparently not always optioned by individual characters, but sometimes by "groups", so that for example Fox owns the rights to all characters in the X-Men group. This has lead to some characters being in a legal gray area, most notably Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch (due to being both mutants and also longtime Avengers), though there are apparently others.
posted by Sangermaine at 10:46 AM on May 7 [3 favorites]


The movie has made $375M worldwide (on a $255M budget), so it's probably broken even at this point.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:48 AM on May 7


Re Kung Fu Panda:

The plot has some problems, but the script and the voice/animated acting are fantastic.

Yeah, but for me plot and theme often the make or break things for a movie, particularly animated ones because the rest of the movies are so predictable. So sure, amusing training sequences in Kung Fu Panda but there nothing there to take away with me once the ending has soured me. It's like How to Train Your Dragon and Tangled -- they are both very pretty movies with plenty of good voice acting and decent writing, but How Train Your Dragon soared at the end with me by a) acknowledging that the dragon was an intelligent being that deserved acknowledgement and apology from Hiccup's father, and wasn't just a tool for Hiccup's self-actualization, and b) actual consequences to the main character. While Tangled crashed in my estimation when a) Rapunzel only turned against the witch when she realized she was 'owned' by someone else, not any realization of her own rights and worth, and b) when her bid to make choices was rejected so that a guy could make them for her.
posted by tavella at 10:59 AM on May 7


The problem comes when a whole culture decides to lock in at twelve.

Star Wars ruined everything.


don't get me started on that.

My personal theory is that if you first saw Star Wars (the original) when you were older than say fourteen, it just didn't make that big an impression on you. Not a bad movie at all, just nothing worth building a worldview around.
posted by philip-random at 11:04 AM on May 7 [1 favorite]


So maybe you just don't care for beer, and that's fine, but it's silly to say it's all the same.

okay, but soft drinks (pop, soda?) make for a better analogy. Versus stuff with actual alcohol in it. I like some STRONG in my drink, and I generally don't get that from SuperHero stuff (not even the Dark Night stuff, which is more like an energy drink than anything).

Not that I don't sometimes enjoy the right soft drink at the right moment ... but I'm ultimately not the target market. Which would be fine, except I keep getting overwhelmed by such swill -- the culture is drowning in it, I can't avoid it, I'm forced to have an opinion lest I drown.
posted by philip-random at 11:11 AM on May 7 [1 favorite]


> Or Wonder Woman?

My desire to see a Wonder Woman movie is inversely proportional to my desire to see how Hollywood would handle it. Because unless some director does a Raimi/Whedon thing of taking control out of belief that they're the only ones who can do the character right, Hollywood will feel beholden to find a balance between borderline T&A (for the stuck-in-adolescence males) and banal Girl Power type positivism (for girls and parents), as if those are the only two possible options for a Wonder Woman film franchise.
posted by ardgedee at 11:12 AM on May 7 [3 favorites]


It's fine if you don't especially like the superhero genre, but it's a bit much to insist that meaning or quality is simply impossible in such things. It doesn't demonstrate anything other than a noxious uninformed snobbery. All genres have highs and lows, and their highs can be among the best movies ever made.

It's the equivalent of going into a thread about rap, insisting it's an inherently terrible genre and pissing on the people who like it. It's bad form, and please don't do it.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:16 AM on May 7 [25 favorites]


My point is not that comics in general are juvenile or that the movies based on them are necessarily vapid. However, the sheer profitability of the DC / Marvel universes means that the people funding them are going to focus on profits, which means conservative decision-making re: content. Especially and particularly on film. So people saying truly controversial and potentially unprofitable things are probably saying them elsewhere. Do I know where? Sure. If you want comics, the web is lousy with indie webcomics that aren't beholden to shareholders. If you want live action, try stuff like Les Revenants and Top Of The Lake.

Mostly, though, I'm just bored with the constant rebooting of old franchises like Batman, Superman, Spider-Man etc. Same goes for Star Wars. It feels, to me, lazy and repetitive and reeks of "how much money can we wrangle out of the pockets of the people who grew up with this stuff?" If forced to watch a superhero movie, I'd rather watch something like Unbreakable than The Avengers 2 since neither rode in on the coattails of familiarity.
posted by grumpybear69 at 11:23 AM on May 7 [1 favorite]


Well, at least we have the Metal Men movie to look forward to. I shudder to think about how far off the grimdark cliff the Snyderverse will drive that one.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 11:23 AM on May 7


Well, perhaps your best option would be to start a thread on those topics. I happen to like big budget superhero movies, and I think the filmmakers are often cleverer about addressing controversial subject matter than you give them credit for. There is a long history of intelligent filmmakers deliberately choosing to make big budget genre films precisely because it is so easy to hide radical subject matter in it, because, as long as it fulfills the needs of the genres, producers tend to miss everything else.

That's a discussion I find interesting. What do you expect, profits and soooo boring is one I don't know how to respond to, except with: I expect a lot more.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:27 AM on May 7 [2 favorites]


That's in response to grumpybear69, if it's not clear.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:28 AM on May 7


Every mass media enterprise everywhere is ultimately driven by profits, though. Even Whedon's made-on-a-weekend-with-his-buddies production of Much Ado About Nothing wouldn't have gotten a release if distribution companies hadn't seen dollar signs in it. In this medium, art is always going to be competing with profit-driven top-down engineering, regardless of genre.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:30 AM on May 7 [1 favorite]


However, the sheer profitability of the DC / Marvel universes means that the people funding them are going to focus on profits, which means conservative decision-making re: content.

Yes, that's why Marvel has stuck with sure-hit franchises like Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant Man rather than bringing their really esoteric comics onto the big screen.

And: that's really an argument w/r/t mass media funding, and therefore incidentally comics-movies, not anything intrinsic to the nominal subject here. You could make the same complaint about pop music, or television shows, or...
posted by cjelli at 11:32 AM on May 7 [1 favorite]


Mostly, though, I'm just bored with the constant rebooting of old franchises like Batman, Superman, Spider-Man etc.

I'm bored with rebooting in general. Let's not pretend it's only superhero franchises that do this, either (hi there Robocop, Godzilla, Addams Family, Dark Shadows, etc.)
posted by Foosnark at 11:37 AM on May 7 [1 favorite]


Robocop was fine. Addams Family was genuinely great. And Godzilla looks to be A MONSTER HIT.

Look, I'm sick of all this Shakespeare, but some stuff can be revisted and have something worthwhile as a result. I mean, the classic Bogart version of The Maltese Falcon was the third film adaptation of the book.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:41 AM on May 7 [4 favorites]


Hell, the Wizard of Oz we all know and love was the fourth movie with that title. And it came out in 1939!
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:43 AM on May 7 [1 favorite]


And: that's really an argument w/r/t mass media funding, and therefore incidentally comics-movies, not anything intrinsic to the nominal subject here. You could make the same complaint about pop music, or television shows, or...

I do personally have the same issues with (most) pop music, TV shows etc. They annoy me no end for reasons mainly of serving shareholders greed and not giving a shit about what I might actually want in a cultural engagement (ie: beauty, insight, innovation, unpredictability, critique, genuine drama-satire-whatever). Which would be fine if I could just ignore them all ... But I can't. They won't let me. They're like zombies on the prowl -- insatiable. They want my brain.

And so I fire back every now and then.

but some stuff can be revisted and have something worthwhile as a result. I mean, the classic Bogart version of The Maltese Falcon was the third film adaptation of the book.

Well then hopefully, when I fire back, I do so wisely. Hopefully, I actually check my load first, make sure I'm taking effective aim ... but sometimes the zombies at the gate are just too numerous. Sometimes, I just have to unleash with everything I've got. Sometimes there will be collateral damage.

Welcome to Marshall McLuhan's World War III
posted by philip-random at 11:51 AM on May 7 [1 favorite]


to something like The Dark Knight which is almost universally heralded

Perfect use of the word almost. Because that film was diabolical.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 11:54 AM on May 7 [2 favorites]


SPOILER ALERT: HULK NOT FAN.

I mean he may be a bit hyperbolic here but that film sure sounds like a committee-assembled piece of pretty garbage. Love that they shot on film though!
posted by Mister_A at 12:02 PM on May 7 [1 favorite]


I think there is a Wonder Woman film on deck
posted by thelonius at 12:07 PM on May 7


I admit that I am ranting more than making a coherent argument, and I apologize for that. I also realize that my comments may have come off as condescending and dismissive of an entire genre. For that I also apologize. I still think mainstream superhero movies are getting tiresome, though.

Bunny, I agree that a discussion around subversive content in mainstream films is a fantastic discussion topic.
posted by grumpybear69 at 12:10 PM on May 7 [2 favorites]


I think there is a Wonder Woman film on deck

Warner has cast Gal Gadot to play Wonder Woman in the Batman v. Superman film, (and, presumably the follow-up Justice League movie), but has made no commitment to make a standalone Wonder Woman film.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 12:11 PM on May 7 [1 favorite]


Mostly, though, I'm just bored with the constant rebooting of old franchises like Batman, Superman, Spider-Man etc.

Yeah, not to mention the constant rebooting of all those even older superheroes - you know, Beowulf, Hercules (who, by the way, is a bona-fide Avenger), King Arthur...and don't even get me started on that whole halfassed reboot of Odysseus as 'Ulysses' that the Romans did. I mean it's like, just introduce some new superheroes already, wouldja? How hard is it to come up with some original ideas?

Oh wait. Compared to those guys, Batman, Spidey, et al. are the new guys. People have been telling, and re-telling, and re-re-retelling, stories about their favorite larger-than-life heroes since the dawn of mankind. It's totally fine to be more interested in new stories than re-tellings of old ones, but to dismiss all re-tellings as lazy and/or purely profit-driven requires you to ignore like 90% of the history of human storytelling. There's more to it than that.
posted by mstokes650 at 12:15 PM on May 7 [2 favorites]


Gadot has a three movie contract for Batman v Superman, Justice League, and a hypothetical Wonder Woman solo movie.

Considering that WB seems set on having Zach Snyder ruin make everything in the DC Cinematic Universe, I feel like it's a lose/lose situation.
posted by kmz at 12:16 PM on May 7


The whole point about Kung Fu Panda was that it aimed to deliver the ultimate corny Kung Fu plot straight but light. It was the opposite of Pixar in one way because it said screw moral depth, let's have fun. That's why Jack Black was perfect casting. That's why it makes a good example to cite here; a film that knew exactly where it was supposed to go and went there.
posted by Segundus at 12:16 PM on May 7


I think basically they've signed her up just in case they decide to make one, but they refuse to make any kind of firm statement that they're going to make one until, I don't know, people gush excitedly about the minor part they turned it into or the fashion model they cast? I don't know. They're only paying her $300k for the first one, it sounds like, so I guess at least she's cheap compared to the Avengers casting, but I can't say I'm optimistic.
posted by Sequence at 12:17 PM on May 7


After watching Sam Raimi's Spider-Man movies and generally enjoying them (though agreeing that the third was a bit of a mess), I was left with a sense of fulfillment regarding the movie version of that character.

So then they go out and make more. Well, hmm. No, I don't think I'm going to get interested in these. There are plenty of movie superheroes now, I feel I can safely skip these. Similarly, the individual Marvel Universe movies I'm ignoring, although I might go see the next Avengers.

I have reached superhero saturation. I no longer want to watch big strong people beat up bad guys. Actually, I suspect I didn't want to watch that in the first place, but y'know, everyone else was.
posted by JHarris at 12:22 PM on May 7 [1 favorite]


> From what I've read, Sony has a 5 year renewable option...

"WITH ENDLESS OPTIONS FOR RENEWAL! WITH ENDLESS OPTIONS FOR RENEWAL! WITH ENDLESS OPTIONS FOR RENEWAL!"

Seriously, though, does this mean we can look forward to a new crop of Spider-Man movies every five years?
posted by The Card Cheat at 12:30 PM on May 7 [1 favorite]


The screenwriters were Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, authors of the Star Trek and Transformers movies.

If I could get some kind of app that would alert me when these two and/or Lindelhof are involved in a film I would pay a high premium.
posted by Ber at 12:30 PM on May 7 [8 favorites]


Seriously, though, does this mean we can look forward to a new crop of Spider-Man movies every five years?

It means there'll be at least one new movie in any five-year span. With Sony trying to set up its own superhero mega-franchise it might not always be a movie about Peter Parker, though.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 12:36 PM on May 7


some kind of app that would alert me when these two and/or Lindelof are involved in a film

We can call it HackList. "It looks like you're trying to watch a movie that isn't totally incoherent. Would you like help?"
posted by RogerB at 12:38 PM on May 7 [7 favorites]


to dismiss all re-tellings as lazy and/or purely profit-driven requires you to ignore like 90% of the history of human storytelling.

I never dismissed all re-tellings or reboots. I was specifically addressing the current superhero reboot frenzy which is totally profit-driven. Superhero movies are hot! People love 'em! That's why they're getting greenlit at a breakneck clip, because they are almost guaranteed to make money.

And, of course, some great films will have come out of this cycle (though not, in my opinion, The Avengers which felt like the most pandering POS I've ever watched) but maybe we can take a break for 10-15 years so that big-budget movies about roller skating can make a comeback?
posted by grumpybear69 at 12:41 PM on May 7 [3 favorites]


[Comment removed, if you're telling people to fuck off it's time to step away from the thread.]
posted by cortex at 12:51 PM on May 7 [1 favorite]


I was specifically addressing the current superhero reboot frenzy which is totally profit-driven. Superhero movies are hot! People love 'em! That's why they're getting greenlit at a breakneck clip, because they are almost guaranteed to make money.

Sure, but this is begging the question. Why do people love 'em? Why are they almost guaranteed to make money?
posted by mstokes650 at 1:18 PM on May 7 [1 favorite]


I was specifically addressing the current superhero reboot frenzy which is totally profit-driven.

All the movies at your local theatre are totally profit-driven.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:21 PM on May 7 [3 favorites]


The Avengers. It wasn't dumb

It was dumb. I thought it made the same mistake that The Expendables movies made. Great individual characters are not necessarily great when they are in a group.

A movie isn't long enough to let us meet and enjoy a whole crowd of characters. Most of those characters pretty much feel like cameos. If you try to delve into too many characters then every single one of them will feel like cameos and there won't actually be any depth to any of them.
posted by HappyEngineer at 1:23 PM on May 7 [1 favorite]


It means there'll be at least one new movie in any five-year span. With Sony trying to set up its own superhero mega-franchise it might not always be a movie about Peter Parker, though.

Summer 2019: get ready for The Descendants of Abbot and Costello Meet Spider-Man!
posted by The Underpants Monster at 1:28 PM on May 7 [1 favorite]


Well I think the Avengers worked because all the characters were loners who were thrown together haphazardly, and their pasts were so different from each other. Billionaire genius has to work with patriotic frozen super soldier has to overcome gigantic cultural barrier with Norse space god has to make friends with gigantic fury monster. I thought the defeating Loki, smacking up aliens plot was really just an excuse to have the characters bounce (sometimes literally) off each other. "I know, let's have them all go our for shawarma together!"

You know, like a live action version of Justice Friends!
posted by JHarris at 1:31 PM on May 7 [1 favorite]


Here's one take on why they're so popular and profitable. A telling quote from the bottom:

“Superhero movies aren’t foolproof, but even if they flop, they still make some money,” [University of Phoenix Film Studies Professor Stephanie] Morrow says. “The studios won’t totally lose, so they will keep putting them out. And the already-made fan base will be there.”
posted by grumpybear69 at 1:32 PM on May 7 [1 favorite]


If you try to delve into too many characters then every single one of them will feel like cameos and there won't actually be any depth to any of them.

Obviously I'd strongly disagree about The Avengers, though we may be different meaning on character depth in the film.

To me, it was satisfying to see know that the characters existed in a world beyond what the movie focused on. Hawkeye and Black Widow had history of friendship, possibly mentoring and being spies. Thor and Loki had a sibling rivalry. Captain America was struggling to find a place in a new world. Banner just had big issues. Stark was struggling learning how to be a team player. All these elements came together (just barely) as they worked to defeat a foe.

The key there was solid writing, acting and directing, with a clearcut goal: Work together to defeat Loki.

“The studios won’t totally lose, so they will keep putting them out. And the already-made fan base will be there.”

This is exactly why I'm not going to go see ASM2. Quit shoveling shit at me and telling me it's sunshine.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:36 PM on May 7 [2 favorites]


In other words grumpybear69, it's the tyranny of the popular.

Over time, these kinds of mass market cultural indutries are biased towards the things that are most populist, even at the expense of smaller-yet-profitable niches, because of the massive opportunity cost of not chasing after the biggest dollar.

Ideally, competition between studios for the superhero-movie audience and viewer saturation will thin out the tide of spandex films as each individually becomes less profitable. But they're still somewhat profitable, and seen as a sure thing by executives, so they keep being made. It's probably going to take a highly visible flop to break their spell over Hollywood.
posted by JHarris at 1:38 PM on May 7 [2 favorites]


To me, it was satisfying to see know that the characters existed in a world beyond what the movie focused on. Hawkeye and Black Widow had history of friendship, possibly mentoring and being spies. Thor and Loki had a sibling rivalry. Captain America was struggling to find a place in a new world. Banner just had big issues. Stark was struggling learning how to be a team player. All these elements came together (just barely) as they worked to defeat a foe.

So, it was good if you already knew the characters?
posted by The Underpants Monster at 1:51 PM on May 7


I wonder if they're going to do the origin story every time they reboot this franchise. There's only so many times we can see Uncle Ben die, but studios love origins and apparently there's no way Peter Parker is going to be swapped out for anybody else.
posted by brundlefly at 1:51 PM on May 7


If we needed a highly visible flop, I'd have thought that Green Lantern would do it -- it came out just a few years ago and is #13 on Wikipedia's list of box office bombs.

The trouble is that studios are really driven to find something that will convince people to get out to the theater instead of waiting to watch it at home (whether by piracy, digital renting, etc), so that favors big spectacles; and they're really driven to find something that can easily be marketed overseas, so that favors big spectacles that aren't driven by sophisticated dialogue and complicated character work, because dubbing isn't always kind to those things. I think that superhero movies have sort of taken over the Big Silly Action Movies niche because they tend to be less political than the sort of action/spy/thriller movies that are driven by foreign bad guys, too.

I really like a good superhero movie, so to some degree I'm disappointed because people could make really good ones if they wanted to. But movies are so much more a monoculture than they were even ten years ago, and it's kind of ridiculous.
posted by Jeanne at 2:02 PM on May 7 [2 favorites]


I think everyone should also really watch this review by yourmoviesucks. it's kind of amazing, and touches on a lot of the same points but in video form.

Possible spoiler warning, a bit.

He makes the good point though, which if you watch that video before you read this hulk crit like i did, that the movie is almost a parody of itself and other movies like it. Everything said by the hulk about how he just disregards everyone, always has to be right, and seems like a total sociopath completely adds to that.

This movie seems to be bordering on just bad enough to be like, some lawnmower man 2 kind of worth watching for the sake of it's awfulness sort of thing when you look at it upside-down and backwards like that.
posted by emptythought at 2:22 PM on May 7 [3 favorites]


So, it was good if you already knew the characters?

The characters in Avengers are mostly 74 years old and profoundly embedded into Western popular culture.
posted by Sebmojo at 2:23 PM on May 7 [1 favorite]


Yeah, not to mention the constant rebooting of all those even older superheroes - you know, Beowulf, Hercules (who, by the way, is a bona-fide Avenger), King Arthur...and don't even get me started on that whole halfassed reboot of Odysseus as 'Ulysses' that the Romans did. I mean it's like, just introduce some new superheroes already, wouldja? How hard is it to come up with some original ideas?

A valid point, sort of. On the other hand, Beowulf sat around for approximately 1000 years before someone took scholarly interest in it and translated it into Latin, and another while yet before people started retelling it and changing the story (aside from possible oral traditions in antiquity, anyway).

The last blockbuster-ish Beowulf movie was 2007 (and it was terrible, and I say that as a Neil Gaiman fan). There has not been any significant noise about making another one since then. There have, of course, been lots of lower profile movies involving the story and/or character, but nobody really owns the rights to either.

Meanwhile, Spiderman. Created in 1962. 40 years in which movies could have been made about him but weren't, until the 2002/2004/2007 trilogy... and then a reboot 5 years later. It just feels too soon to be telling basically the same story in basically the same way, except where Spiderman is a douchebag instead of a socially awkward but well-meaning kid who finds himself dealing with great power and great responsibility.
posted by Foosnark at 2:23 PM on May 7 [1 favorite]


Spiderman 2 sounds like a bag with 'movie' written on it that they threw lots of movie-type stuff into, looked at for a moment then put on the footpath with a '$15' label on it.
posted by Sebmojo at 2:25 PM on May 7 [2 favorites]


Spiderman 2 sounds like a bag with 'movie' written on it that they threw lots of movie-type stuff into, looked at for a moment then put on the footpath with a '$15' label on it.

It's more than that though. It's like if someone black-boxed the concept of a movie. Like someone who knew nothing about movies deconstructed a movie, and explained it over the phone to someone else who knew nothing about movies who then wrote a description.

Then someone handed that description to a highly trained and skilled crew of actors, cinematographers, 3dfx artists, musicians and foley people, etc who were to be directed by another person who knew absolutely nothing about movies.

I only wish it was actually that, because that would be a fantastic artistic statement... or... something.

It would be more interesting with that backstory anyways. As it is, it's just kind of really confusing how it even exists in this form. And it's another missile in the launcher of my friends making the point to me several times recently(which i agree with, mostly) that all the cool/interesting/good/creative shit happens in TV nowadays.
posted by emptythought at 2:28 PM on May 7 [1 favorite]


(And by Spiderman, I of course mean Spider-Man, because my wife will glare at me disapprovingly if she finds out I have missed the hyphen.)
posted by Foosnark at 2:30 PM on May 7 [1 favorite]


So, it was good if you already knew the characters?

No, the relationships and dynamics described were in The Avengers.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:31 PM on May 7 [2 favorites]


With the Avengers, though, I felt some of the same stuff that I did about Winter Soldier (which, I know, everybody loved!) -- too much of the relationships between the characters were lightly sketched in, so that if you had the backstory, or you could take the sketch and fill it in in your own head, it worked great, and otherwise it was just kind of... sketchy. And I can understand how my friends who are fanfiction readers and writers loved Avengers and Winter Soldier, because filling in all the emotional details is what they do, but to me it felt like we were expected to feel a lot of emotional stuff without the groundwork having been laid down.
posted by Jeanne at 2:41 PM on May 7


If you want a great movie, check out Blue Ruin. Meanwhile, I'll be over here watching all the Godzilla trailers again.
posted by turbid dahlia at 2:49 PM on May 7 [1 favorite]


I think everyone should also really watch this review by yourmoviesucks.

Oh my god, forget the content of the review itself or the movie or anything... Those are some of the most heart-breaking behind-the-scenes promo clips I've ever seen. Pharrell bullshitting about how incredible and ground-breaking their work was and the movie is with Hans Zimmer was just painful.
posted by sparkletone at 2:51 PM on May 7


On a happier note related to this movie: this was cute. However The Ramones did it best.
posted by sparkletone at 2:53 PM on May 7


I don't mind that superhero narratives work primarily on the level of action-movie fare. Most of them fall apart if you squint at them sideways without the supporting narrative conventions. I suspect that you can't really keep those Superheros branded Superheros and engage in deep analysis about what that really entails. Many of the people trying that ended up playing in their own sandboxes.

At any rate, I think Avengers works because it managed to pull off the team-ensemble-movie conventions in the tradition of Seven Samurai. Everyone is sticking well within the structured archetypes, and the screenplay does a nice job of balancing them out. It's not especially deep character development, but it does what it needs to do.

Although it is interesting to me that Marvel was outgrossed by a girl with a bow in a darkly dystopian SF flick.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 2:57 PM on May 7


Oh my god, forget the content of the review itself or the movie or anything... Those are some of the most heart-breaking behind-the-scenes promo clips I've ever seen. Pharrell bullshitting about how incredible and ground-breaking their work was and the movie is with Hans Zimmer was just painful.

That guy has some amazing skill at digging up crap like that. Also, In one of his "best of the year" things he has a montage of shot for shot nearly identical sex scenes that are gay and straight, and EVERY gay scene is nc-17 even if it's hardly explicit at all, and the straight ones are either R or PG-13. The jumping off point was a movie with no sex scenes in it, just some kissing getting an R because it was a gay relationship.

He went through like, i don't even know how many movies to find identical shots like that. it must have been hundreds.
posted by emptythought at 2:59 PM on May 7


It's more than that though. It's like if someone black-boxed the concept of a movie. Like someone who knew nothing about movies deconstructed a movie, and explained it over the phone to someone else who knew nothing about movies who then wrote a description.

So a Chinese Room Movie?
posted by Sebmojo at 2:59 PM on May 7 [1 favorite]


I just wanted to say that Dane Dehaan was totally wasted as Harry Osborn. He was given like 10 minutes for a character arc that took James Franco 3 full films to complete. Granted Dehaan is approximately 270 times the actor Franco is, but that's beside the point.
posted by mediocre at 3:08 PM on May 7 [2 favorites]


I think different people read different amounts of stuff into character interaction. Yes, I had an idea who Captain America was, but it was pretty much just the stuff on-screen between the two Captain America movies themselves that gave me everything I got out of his interaction with most of the important people in his life, and it was enough for parts of Winter Soldier to completely and utterly break me. But, again, there are other movies I just totally don't connect with. Iron Man was a series I just kind of enjoyed until I saw Tony Stark having a panic attack. If it doesn't grab you, it doesn't grab you, that doesn't mean it doesn't contain enough to grab other people.

But, so as not to derail, I don't think I've heard anybody say they were really grabbed by this one, so. There are some movies that aren't for everybody, and then there are some movies that don't really seem to be for anybody.
posted by Sequence at 3:20 PM on May 7 [1 favorite]


but to me it felt like we were expected to feel a lot of emotional stuff without the groundwork having been laid down.

That sketched-in-ness is what made The Avengers work for me as an ensemble piece, coming into the movie having not since the set-up movies nor read (many) of the comic book. It felt like natural dialogue: "hey, remember that time when that thing happened, haha, right?" versus "LET ME EXPOSITION AT YOU, GOOD SIR!"
posted by cjelli at 3:20 PM on May 7 [3 favorites]


Tuesdays are $7 for any movie (even 3D) at the theater up the street, so if I don't have any work I go and let them pay for air conditioning instead of turning it on in my apartment.

I'm pretty critical, but I can enjoy a wide range of movies from the most obscure art films to the big tentpole releases, although the latter are often too formulaic or overwrought for my tastes.

TAS-M2 is not for everyone, it's definitely not without its flaws, but I don't understand the the hate I'm seeing for it from just about everywhere. I didn't see the first one in this reboot. Maybe I'd feel differently if I had, or if I'd paid $18.75 to see it (although I've gotten much less entertainment value out of better-regarded movies that I've paid a lot more to see).

I enjoyed the hell out of TAS-M2. There are a few "Really? That's the choice you went with?" moments, some of which were just about the music. But I thought the directing was actually quite good, with some really great unexpected and subtle (I know) touches.

The production design was wonderful with many interesting details, and some scenes developed with added layers and resonance that weren't really required if the movie was just checking boxes off a list.

Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield had wonderful chemistry, and Sally Field had one scene that was just heartbreaking. Dane DeHaan was great as Harry Osborne (they could have made a movie that centered around him) and his onscreen relationship with Peter had more depth than one would expect based on the screen time it occupied. Chris Cooper was super-creepy as Norman Osborne, and Jamie Foxx was fun to watch as ever. I thought it was visually wonderful and often surprising.

I thought the "changing seasons at the graveside" bit that CRIT HULK complains about was actually really great and I did not expect it. (SPOILER WARNING FOR PEOPLE WHO KNOW NOTHING ABOUT THE SPIDER-MAN CANON) In most films after a character dies the movie just moves on to the next thing. This movie created a space of stillness after the death and let the audience just experience the feeling for a little while. It had even more impact because Emma Stone created such a sense of life in her character that her death felt like a real loss.

I'm not going to try to refute CRIT HULK because he (it?) makes a lot of valid points. I did feel that Peter got let off the hook too easily and that the writers chickened out of exploring potential blowback on him for his role in things. Yes, he was too confident in general. But after Captain America: The Winter Soldier (which I really liked btw despite my next statement) I saw GI Joe: Retaliation and they are almost the same movie. There are plot points and formulas that are embarrassingly similar, as though the "Save the cat" formula was absolutely mandatory. TAS-M2 managed to avoid many of the defining characteristics of that formula.

I'm ok with a superhero movie being the cinematic equivalent of a pulpy comic book. They don't all have to be prestige exercises. I didn't feel like this iteration of the story violated any central components of the source mythology, it didn't have the "villain bloat" I expected from the previews and I ended up leaving the theater with a sense of exhilaration that I hope for when I see a superhero movie but so seldom get.

In terms of fueling a larger debate about bad writing I suppose there's plenty in this movie for that, but I think CA: TWS deserves as much criticism if not more, if only for the tedious adherence to formula it displayed. I don't think it should skate on the quality of its other elements any more than TAS-M2 should. And don't even get me started on Thor 2. That had straight-to-VHS quality writing.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 3:45 PM on May 7


Another more general thought: I have no evidence to back this up, but it feels to me like most mainstream filmmakers today (I'm including directors and writers in that label) are so into movies that they aren't making movies that are influenced by or relate to life. They're making movies exclusively influenced by and relating to other movies. I don't see any calculus in which returns do anything but diminish except possibly at the box office, which rewards the wrong behavior.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 3:53 PM on May 7


I actually really liked this film and thought it had a coherency - but it was a kind of Gen Y coherency. It's Spiderman updated for the modern generation, of complicated on/off/maybe relationships, of enfants terribles running the world via overpowered corporations, about not really having a clear morality to follow because everything is adrift and all the anchors are gone. It's about the superficiality, which is where the Electro thing comes in. Peter is glad-handing - he has to be popular - so he says overly intimate things without having the connections to back them. And somehow it doesn't turn out well.

I mean, I think I don't disagree that Peter in this one is a little bit of a sociopath - but I thought that was the point of this newer reboot, that this is the slightly sociopathic, "I do it my way" Spiderman. It's his cockiness and idiocy that gets Gwen killed. He doesn't want to give his blood to Osborn because he might die, but at the same time he just can't resist having a great big showboating scene where Peter Parker got Spiderman to come....and say no. He's fucking with everyone by galomphing through the world without a care, and it's no surprise the consequences bite him on the ass.
posted by corb at 4:03 PM on May 7


I'm sick of all this Shakespeare

You can't see it, but I am biting my thumb at you so hard.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 4:04 PM on May 7 [3 favorites]


Although I'm ill-equipped to comment on Spider-Man or superhero lore in general, or even movies in general, the point I got from Hulk's piece, what resonated with me, is a general sense of bewilderment and disgust at the endorsement (rather than depiction) of a deeply solipsistic, snide and vindictive worldview. I have become exasperated not with superhero movies or the Hollywood blockbuster as such, or the grotesque violence and explosions that propel them, but with the reflexive cynicism and utilitarianism that seems to permeate them, justified by paper-thin notions of "authenticity" or "edge". This connects strongly to an "if only I had my way" / "that will show them" type of frustration, but otherwise there is little to connect to.
posted by dmh at 4:17 PM on May 7 [6 favorites]


This connects strongly to an "if only I had my way" / "that will show them" type of frustration, but otherwise there is little to connect to.

Isn't that the very mindset that superhero comics are born from? Wish fulfillment for people who feel they have little power? Regardless of how you feel about that concept or mindset wouldn't that indicate that the movies are staying true to their roots?
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 4:33 PM on May 7


Of course Spiderman had to be rebooted as a careless sociopath.

The old Spiderman was a working class hero; this one is a hero for the one percent.
posted by jamjam at 4:33 PM on May 7 [1 favorite]


Regardless of how you feel about that concept or mindset wouldn't that indicate that the movies are staying true to their roots?

Well, no, Spider-Man's whole deal is rejecting that mindset. The idea of superheroes in general but Peter Parker in particular is that they remain essentially good even with enough power to take whatever they want from the normal folk. It's a power fantasy, yes, but an aspirational one, not retributive. With great power comes great responsibility, not great douchebaggery.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 4:39 PM on May 7 [1 favorite]


Isn't that the very mindset that superhero comics are born from?

Spider-Man's whole deal is that in spite of all the power he has, he still can't get his way. Check out this 1970 comic of Spider-Man vs Electro. Lee and Romita manage to cram more pathos into one splash page than the filmmakers could in two whole films.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 4:43 PM on May 7 [5 favorites]


Foosnark, I am in no way defending this movie, which I have not seen but fully believe is terrible. I didn't see the first Andrew Garfield Spider-Man movie either. And as other folks have said, these movies only exist because Sony needs to use the rights or lose the rights. The comment I was responding to was basically using this movie as a launching-platform for dismissive rants about the entire genre. I just felt the need to point out that "what we thought was awesome when we were 12" is also what people of all ages have basically always thought was awesome.

(Which reminds me, why hasn't anyone made a big-budget blockbuster out of Epic of Gilgamesh yet? I would've expected it before Noah!)
posted by mstokes650 at 4:47 PM on May 7 [2 favorites]


The characters in Avengers are mostly 74 years old and profoundly embedded into Western popular culture.

Actually, surprisingly, no!

I don't read comics but I'm not against them. And yet, I had no idea that The Avengers were a big thing on their own, and if someone had asked me about something by that name I would have gone to that British TV show before a Marvel comic book. Whereas the Justice League of course I had known about as a little kid from the 80s cartoon.

Before the movie, The Avengers as a property seemed to be a lot less known than its DC equivalent, I think because before then it had only really been a comic book.
posted by JHarris at 4:58 PM on May 7


(But I note now you said characters, whereas I responded as if you had said "The Avengers." On that you're exactly right, sorry my mistake.)
posted by JHarris at 4:58 PM on May 7 [1 favorite]


I wasn't planning on seeing any of the Spider-Man reboots, but I ended up seeing the first Amazing Spider-Man because my family wanted to, and I was surprised when I really liked it.

I felt they did a lot of things right: making Gwen smart, strong and capable in her own right instead of just Peter's Love Interest (and casting a great actress to play her); incorporating Dennis Leary's storyline, which offered a more sympathetic case for why the police view Spider-Man as a menace; and eliminating altogether my own personal pet peeve "kidnap someone Spider-man loves" scheme we endured in ALL THREE original Toby Maguire films.

This one...I can't stir up any interest in the film at all. The trailer I've seen seems to consist of the same old tired tropes as the last trilogy. Spider-Man running off while his frustrated girlfriend calls after him?! Yeah, been there, seen that.

You know what would have been a more intriguing way to reboot the franchise? Shoot it all from a villain's perspective. How about detailing the incarnation of Venom of Carnage instead and bringing in Spider-Man as this frustrating, wisecracking guy who annoys the hell out of them but keeps winning in confrontations because he is not (quite so) eaten up by bitterness and envy?

Or maybe even going so far as to give the audience the impression they will be seeing the origin of Spider-Man again and then throwing them a curveball, A Beautiful Mind style, where this young likeable dude they thought would be the hero of the story becomes the tragically delusional antihero, universally hated by his peers?
posted by misha at 5:03 PM on May 7 [2 favorites]


this young likeable dude they thought would be the hero of the story becomes the tragically delusional antihero, universally hated by his peers?

They haven't even introduced Doc Ock in this franchise yet, so it'd be awhile before they did anything so Spectacular.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 5:37 PM on May 7


this young likeable dude they thought would be the hero of the story becomes the tragically delusional antihero, universally hated by his peers?

I could totally see an Eddie Brock movie going that way. This wasn't quite everything I wanted it to be, but it was still really interesting.
posted by mstokes650 at 5:43 PM on May 7 [1 favorite]


I have been having a weird experience where I have been attempting to watch the first one for several days now and have not yet made it far enough in the movie for him to be Spider-Man yet.

You ain't the only one, Sequence.

I mean, I made it through the first one, but there was a hell of a lot of fast-forwarding and teeth-gritting going on, and like you, as long as things go BOOM every so often I can usually deal with whatever else might be wrong with whatever flick I'm watching. Not TASM 1, though.

Film Crit Hulk pretty much nails why I hated the first one in this bit from the review:
"AND LIKE THE CHIEF PROBLEM OF TASM1, WHY ARE THEY HELL-BENT ON MAKING PETER THE KEWL BADASS WHO WILL SWOOP FOR GRADUATION AND KISS A GIRL ON STAGE LIKE HE'S THE FUCKING FONZ?

WHY DOESN'T ANYONE REALIZE THAT WHEN YOU MAKE PETER A KEWL BADASS WHO IS GOOD AT EVERYTHING IT ACTUALLY UNDERMINES THE ENTIRE POINT OF THE CHARACTER? WHICH IS THE IDEA THAT HAVING SUPERPOWERS WHEN YOU'RE A REGULAR KID DOESN'T ACTUALLY MAKE LIFE EASIER AND IN FACT MAKES IT WAY, WAY, WAY HARDER? ESPECIALLY TO DO THE RIGHT THING? NOR DOES IT MAGICALLY FIX ASPECTS OF YOUR SOCIAL PERSONALITY?"
People are going gaga over Garfield's portrayal of Parker and the chemistry between him and Emma Stone, but all I saw on screen was a smug, smarmy little egomaniac, who had problems with the jocks at school because he's a rebellious sk8ter-boi, not a shy, lonely science nerd. He's like the anti-Peter Parker.

I won't waste my time seeing the second one.
posted by soundguy99 at 5:45 PM on May 7 [2 favorites]


I only saw the first one because I adore Emma Stone. The rest of it was lackluster, and yeah, I may want to like Emma Stone's boyfriend, but that character...feh. I am so not seeing the second one or anything after it.
posted by jenfullmoon at 5:50 PM on May 7


They should have made Emma Stone Spider-Man. Not changed the name or anything, just done it. She could have pulled it off.
posted by Sequence at 5:57 PM on May 7 [4 favorites]


They haven't even introduced Doc Ock in this franchise yet, so it'd be awhile before they did anything so Spectacular.

I haven't seen the movie, but I could swear I've seen screengrabs from a trailer or something where somewhere in the background of some shots are very Doc Ock-ian mechanical tentacles.

I'm sure the movie he's in will be bullshit too, sadly.

I actually do (mostly) like the Raimi movies. The third one is a hot mess, and the other two have a lot of goofiness to them. It can be hard deciding what's intentional camp and what's studio meddling because these were such huge money makers being directed by someone known mostly for cult stuff and what's just straight up fucking up. But they do a lot of things right.

Because I'm not really a superhero comics person (I'm a dilettante and what I've read and loved generally lies elsewhere) most of my non-Raimi Spider-man experience/knowledge is from the 90s cartoon. I'm sure if that was on Netflix or something, I'd find it's aged terribly, and I'd never, ever, ever even begin to claim that it's anywhere near Batman: The Animated Series... But that to date has still felt like the most true-to-the-comics translation of Spider-man to TV or movies.
posted by sparkletone at 6:21 PM on May 7 [1 favorite]


IT'S THAT A MOVIE NEEDS TO KNOWS WHAT IT WANTS TO BE ABOUT. IT CAN'T BE AT WAR WITH ITSELF. AND IT REALLY HAS TO HAVE SOME CLUE OF HOW TO GO ABOUT BEING ABOUT SOMETHING MORE THAN THE SUBCONSCIOUS PSYCHOLOGICAL ISSUES OF THE STORYTELLER (THAT'S WHEN IT EITHER GETS DANGEROUS OR BECOMES A REALLY FASCINATING EXPLOITATION FILM).

I wish FCH would've expounded on this parenthetical a little more because I'm interested in hearing some examples of these types of films. Does anyone have any guesses as to what he may have been making these references towards?
posted by coolxcool=rad at 6:21 PM on May 7


Ask him on twitter. I bet he'd be happy to answer.
posted by sparkletone at 6:22 PM on May 7


Gah, whoever did the commentary on that YourMovieSucks video is no Mr. Plinkett.
posted by Auden at 6:38 PM on May 7 [1 favorite]


Some of the top box office bombs have really interesting sounding stories. I can only assume that Hollywood sucked all the life out of them.

What exactly does Sony have to include in a 'Spider-Man' film? I am warming to the idea that they can completely do away with all of the original character motivation and moral message. Making films with completely different characters using the character names from the Spider-Man franchise. Obviously the way they have done that in this case sounds execrable, but it does open a world of opportunity.
posted by asok at 2:50 AM on May 8


What exactly does Sony have to include in a 'Spider-Man' film?

In trying to answer that question, I happened across this gem of an anecdote about earlier attempts to put Spider-Man on the big screen:
[W]hen Marvel put the feature film rights up for sale in 1985, there were few takers. Hollywood was bored with superheroes...Menahem Golan, a Palestine-born producer whose independent company, Cannon Films, distributed foreign-language features for prestige and Jean-Claude Van Damme shoot-'em-ups for profit, acquired the Spider-Man rights for a mere $225,000. The first screenplay he commissioned, by Leslie Stevens, creator of the TV series "The Outer Limits," was by far the most eccentric, featuring Peter Parker turning into a giant eight-legged tarantula. Apparently Golan and his Israeli partner, Yoram Globus, had misconstrued the basic concept. "Golan and Globus didn't really know what Spider-Man was," says Joseph Zito, the first director Cannon assigned to the project. "They thought it was like the Wolfman."
Sadly, that script was never filmed.
posted by cjelli at 8:25 AM on May 8 [5 favorites]


Sadly, that script was never filmed.

Although, strangely enough, Spiderman did have spider-totemic powers for a period of time, including stingers erupting from his forearms. That was the period where the solution to any problem in the Marvel universe was to throw a Wolverine at it. I'm told that's no longer the case.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 8:32 AM on May 8


My favourite part of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was noticing the incredible protective powers of the flimsy metal barrier.

There's a huge gunfight between police and a tank on feet with large caliber automatic weapons. A group of extras, I mean crowd, looks on from behind waist high metal barriers that a child could knock over. The crowd looks completely unconcerned with their safety despite the proximity to all of this mayhem. It was amazing.
posted by ODiV at 8:36 AM on May 8


under_petticoat_rule: But after Captain America: The Winter Soldier (which I really liked btw despite my next statement) I saw GI Joe: Retaliation and they are almost the same movie. There are plot points and formulas that are embarrassingly similar, as though the "Save the cat" formula was absolutely mandatory.

That's the "there are only six plots in all of fiction" school of criticism; having seen both of those movies myself, they aren't even remotely the same, save for the very general "enemy organization infiltrates the establishment organization, forcing our heroes to go undercover/underground" basis for both movies.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:37 AM on May 8 [1 favorite]


Spiderman did have spider-totemic powers for a period of time, including stingers erupting from his forearms.

The genius of J. Michael Straczynski, ladies and germs.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:39 AM on May 8


That was the period where the solution to any problem in the Marvel universe was to throw a Wolverine at it.

This sentence would be a hundred times more entertaining were it not for the capitalization of that W.
posted by JHarris at 2:20 PM on May 8 [1 favorite]


The real-life inspiration for Dr. Kafka is unperturbed by her character being killed off in the comics, not impressed about being turned into an evil German guy in the film.
posted by figurant at 3:06 PM on May 8


What exactly does Sony have to include in a 'Spider-Man' film?

Taking your question at more-or-less face value, I don't think there's anything in the laws of copyright or trademark that would require a Spider-Man movie to follow the origin story or themes or character arc or whatever. But I figure somewhere in the contracts signed between Sony and Marvel Entertainment (or whatever it's called these days) that make Marvel a co-producer of the film are clauses that state that Marvel's got some level of influence and/or approval over things like story and script and casting. So in practice if someone at Sony starts heading too far out into left field, Marvel executives can just sit there and say, "No," and production on the film will stall until the Sony people fall more in line with what Marvel wants. And I doubt Marvel wants to stray too far from comic canon, such as it is.
posted by soundguy99 at 6:25 PM on May 8


I imagine they are only doing these movies to earn enough cash/favors to do a version of The Thin Man with Garfield and Stone as hipsterish Nick and Nora.
I suddenly feel a need to head over to Kickstarter and get this going.
But who should write and who should direct?
posted by drinkmaildave at 3:47 PM on May 9


> What exactly does Sony have to include in a 'Spider-Man' film? I am warming to the idea that they can completely do away with all of the original character motivation and moral message.

I am warming to the idea that Sony could simply make a Superman movie, but with "Kal-El" changed to "Peter Parker", "Jor-El" changed to "Uncle Ben", and so on.

It would be horribleawesome, and I want to see it.
posted by ardgedee at 6:13 PM on May 9 [1 favorite]


I finally found myself with nothing better to do than watch this movie. It honestly wasn't bad! Good fight scenes, tons of chemistry between most of the main cast. But the plot truly is just a collection of things that happen. So many character bits and subplots that never pay off. Nobody develops, Peter least of all, and the whole thing with his parents has the impact of a BB gun on Godzilla. It's a godawful script saved by great efforts from everyone else down the line.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 9:14 PM on May 11 [1 favorite]


Which has eventually lead us to a world where Ant-Man and Guardians of the Galaxy movies are real things that are actually happening and that look like they might actually be good.

New Guardians of the Galaxy Trailer Is Sensational!
posted by homunculus at 3:37 PM on May 19


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