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(Today’s NaPoWriMo prompt was to write a poem inspired by a tweet from Haggard Hawks, an account that posts obscure English vocabulary. I liked this post on déjà vu and its variants, like déjà entendu (“the feeling you’ve heard something before”), so I used it for Hollywood’s incessant habit of churning out remakes and reboots.)

An alien far out in space was lounging in his ship,
Content to intercept the many signals from the earth.
He loved the so-called “movies” on his decades-spanning trip,
And though the words were Greek to him, he theorized their worth.

The stories held his fancy, stoking joy and shock and awe,
For nothing from his planet was original like these.
But gradually he noticed creativity withdraw,
With déjà vu and entendu in cyclical reprise.

“Now wait a zeptosecond,” he protested to his screen.
“The earthlings may be different, but I’ve seen this tale before.
That killer in the mask is one I’ve definitely seen.
That RoboCop got two at least; that star who’s born got four.

“That ship that’s flipped and upside down, that planet full of apes,
That ‘alien’ that made me laugh at how wrong humans are,
And all these superheroes with their uniforms and capes;
That spider guy especially must be quite popular.

“I fear that human beings must have reached their mental limit
If they’ve taken to recycling what dazzled in the past.
For any globe, there’s only so much innovation in it.
Perhaps I’ll find some younger planet’s budding telecast.”

MPA rating:  PG-13

It’s difficult to appraise Sony’s Amazing Spider-Man films in retrospect the same as when they first came out. Five years after Spider-Man 3 seemed too soon for a reboot (never mind that Tom Holland’s Spidey would come just two years after Andrew Garfield’s second film), and Andrew Garfield was a largely unknown actor inevitably compared with the beloved Tobey Maguire. (All three Maguire films are beloved in my house anyway.) Now that No Way Home has been able to play on our short-term nostalgia for Garfield’s films, it’s hard to look at them the same way, but I’ll try to appraise them fairly since I did rewatch them in preparation for No Way Home.

The first Amazing Spider-Man is not a bad film, just a largely forgettable one that treads some of the same ground that the original Spider-Man did better. (It’s no wonder Holland’s films decided to forgo the origin setup entirely.) Garfield’s Peter Parker is a loner geek who still displays a backbone, pining for high school overachiever Gwen Stacy (the always lovely Emma Stone) and bristling at the guidance of his Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) and Aunt May (Sally Field). I still wish that a fourth Maguire Spider-Man film could have turned the old Dr. Curt Connors (Dylan Baker) into the villainous Lizard since there would have been more history with his character, but Rhys Ifans is serviceable in the role here, sort of a generic alpha predator bent on “curing” humanity.

The Amazing Spider-Man feels like a film that’s desperately trying to set itself apart from its predecessor, including a more realistic tone and lots of peripheral subplots around the all-too-familiar ingredients of the Spider-Man origin story. What happened with Peter’s disappearing parents? What’s up with the unseen Norman Osborne supposedly on his deathbed? Who’s that man in the shadows? It all feels like it should be more interesting, but it comes off as rather prosaic and extraneous. In lieu of an MJ, perhaps the best new addition is Peter and Gwen’s budding romance in the shadow of her stern policeman father (Denis Leary), who proves to Peter how dangerous the hero gig is for those around him. The couple’s awkward banter feels realistic for a pair of high-school students, though it also highlights that the script is generally rather weak on dialogue.

As I said before, The Amazing Spider-Man is a decent superhero film with good performances, an excellent James Horner score, an instantly classic Stan Lee cameo, and the expected impressive, high-flying visuals; it simply pales in comparison with Sam Raimi’s films, as well as the MCU ones. I hate to label Garfield as third-best Spider-Man when his future outings have improved his character and I’ve come to really like him as an actor. This first film simply shows that he and Emma Stone had a bright career ahead of them, considering they were both nominated for Oscars just a few years later. Every Spidey has to start somewhere.

Best line: (Uncle Ben’s voicemail) “If anyone’s destined for greatness, it’s you, son. You owe the world your gifts. You just have to figure out how to use them and know that wherever they take you, we’ll always be here. So, come on home, Peter. You’re my hero… and I love you!”

Rank: List Runner-Up

© 2022 S.G. Liput
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