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A Tale Of Two Spideys

July 11th, 2012 by Paddy 3 Comments

Spider-Man (2002) vs The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)

THE reboot of Spider-Man caused quite the controversy among fans, when it was announced, two years ago, the original film was only eight years old. But now the dust has settled and we’ve all had a chance to see what the fuss was about, how do the two films compare?
Paddy Ryan watched both films over consecutive nights and looked at how they measure up in a number of key areas.

Spider-Man / Peter Parker
Most fans seem to be in agreeement that this is one area that Marc Webb’s film has the upper hand. Andrew Garfield’s casting has gone down well with fans, especially with the female demographic who felt that Tobey Maguire wasn’t exactly pin-up material.
While Garfield makes for an engaging and charismatic Peter Parker, he looks far too old to be playing a high school student, plus Marc Webb’s film never convinces us that he isn’t down with the kids, so to speak, and it seems unlikely that he would be the victim of bullying.
It’s in this area that Tobey Maguire excels, from the outset of Raimi’s 2002 film it’s obvious that he is something of an outsider and is subjected to a daily stream of ridicule and abuse. As he discovers his powers, it feels very much like an underdog comes good tale, whereas Garfield’s just too darn hunky and charismatic to convince in that department.
That said, Garfield’s character feels much more rounded and he is infinitely more engaging and less one dimensional.
Verdict: A draw. Both actors make for a likeable lead and have the ability to carry the film. Plus they make for very different interpretations but both are equally valid.

The love interest
Gwen Stacey or Mary Jane Watson? Emma Stone’s Gwen Stacey is one of the best things about Marc Webb’s reboot. In fact it could be said she’s the best thing about it. Her scenes with Garfield are superbly judged and the chemistry is sparkling.
Kirsten Dunst’s Mary Jane to Stone’s Stacey never comes close in the likeability stakes and it feels like Raimi’s film is aping the Lois Lane / Clark Kent / Superman lovc triangle.
That said the upside down kiss when Maguire’s Spider-Man rescues her from would-be muggers is an iconic moment and there’s little to match it in Webb’s film.
Verdict: Emma Stone wins thanks to sheer force of personality and the fact that we suspect she really is Gwen Stacey, such is the quality of her performance.

The villain
One thing was apparent in 2002 and it’s even more jarring 10 years later. The Green Goblin’s costume is laughably bad. There’s no such problems with the look of the villain in Webb’s film as The Lizard impressively takes to battle.
Unfortunately that’s about all there is to recommend where Dr Curt Connors is concerned in the reboot.
Rhys Ifans doesn’t necessarily give a poor performance but he’s poorly served by a script that gives him short shrift.
Appalling costume aside, Willem Dafoe is great value especially as Norman Osborne. While The Lizard feels very much like an afterthought in the 2012 film, Dafoe’s Osborne plays a key part in proceedings.
His relationship with Parker feels much more organic than Connors’ does a decade later.
There is also a great thread of how Osborne sees Parker as the son he wished he had, instead of the one he actually has.
This leads to repercussions in the relationship between Peter, Norman and Harry Osborne which has ramifications throughout the trilogy.
Verdict: Green Goblin. While the suit’s an embarassment, Dafoe pretty much nails Norman Osborne while Ifans feels like a generic afterthought of a villain.

The director
Marc Webb was brought on board thanks to his work on (500) Days Of Summer and he pretty much nails the quieter moments between Peter and Gwen. His lack of action experience shows though, apart from a great setpiece in the school, as we are left feeling underwhelmed by most of the action scenes, which is surprising given the vastly superior effects.
Raimi’s not helped by CGI effects that are very much in their infancy, the action scenes are badly dated but he has a lot more visual flair than Webb this is never more apparent than in the scene where Peter’s Spider-Sense kicks in as he confronted by an irate Flash Thompson.
Compare this to a similar scene when Flash takes on Peter in a basketball court, Parker comes across as cocky and arrogant, and the scene has next to no visual flair.
Verdict: A draw. Webb doesn’t have Raimi’s eye or invention but he has given us a much grittier and real Spider-Man.

The score
James Horner’s score for The Amazing Spider-Man isn’t a patch on Danny Elfman’s for Raimi. The reboot’s action scenes feel flat at times because of a generic, non-descript score while Raimi’s film soars, despite some wonky effects work, thanks to an immediately identifiable theme tune.
Winner: Danny Elfman.

Overall: Spider-Man (2002) just edges it. Garfield and Stone are great in the lead roles in the new film, and while it’s by no means a poor watch, there is a sense that some scenes are just variations of what’s come before.
Raimi has more to play with though, Webb’s film feels significantly smaller in scale by keeping Parker in high school.
The decision to involve Parker’s parents in his creation, as Spider-Man, makes the Spider-Man tale somewhat less mysterious and exotic and it makes the saga seem smaller in scale.
By the end of Raimi’s film Parker’s moved out of home and is now working for The Daily Bugle and is making his way in the big bad world.
That said Webb does a great job of setting up the universe and the possibilities for the sequels are mouth watering.

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Paddy Ryan, like Buck Rogers, is a man out of time. He's a loose cannon haunted by his past who, when he's not making painful attempts at humour, is busy watching as many geeky films and TV shows as possible. An avid reader, he has vowed one day to start that novel he's been talking about for years. Born in the late 70s, he's an 80s kid at heart who sees nothing wrong with spending hours upon hours watching season three of Robin Of Sherwood. Jason Connery wasn't that bad you know! He's got a million ideas for comic books but thankfully doesn't know anyone with the time to draw them and call his bluff on that one! The Empire Strikes Back is his favourite film, Doctor Who is his TV show of choice and when it comes to books ... well that's a whole other story! I'm Paddy Ryan and you're not...