Spider-Man 2.1 — screenplay, structure, story

"Screenplay, Structure, Story", in-which single dramas are analysed for their pace and narrative.

Theoretical structure:

Duration: 125 minutes

Act I: 0 – 35 minutes

  • Introduce Peter Parker: 0 – 10 minutes
  • Introduce Otto Octavius 10 – 20 minutes
  • Establish conflict: 20 – 30 minutes
  • Plot point I: 30 – 35 minutes

Act II: 35 – 100 minutes

  • Synthesis between Parker and Octavius: 35 – 95 minutes
  • Plot point II: 95 – 100 minutes

Act III: 100 – 125 minutes

  • Conflict resolution: 100 – 120 minutes
  • Ending: 120 – 125 minutes

Actual structure

Act I (minute 3 – 55)

Introduce Peter Parker (minute 3 – 20)

First seen delivering pizzas after a brief monologue. His secret life as masked vigilante Spider-Man gets in the way of his personal life, which is why he’s behind on his education and is still planning his fusion paper on Otto Octavius. On his birthday, his friend Harry Osborn tells him that Oscorp’s working with Octavius on his new fusion project. That night, Mary-Jane Watson tells him she’s in a relationship now.

Introduce Otto Octavius (minute 20 – 24)

Osborn introduces Parker to Octavius, and tells him that his record shows he should work harder and use his intelligence more. Octavius shows Parker how his fusion reactor works, which could provide renewable power for the whole world. He also tells Parker that if he loves Watson, he should tell her, and suggests impressing her with poetry.

Establish conflict (minute 36 – 49)

Parker reads poetry while dry-cleaning his Spider-Man costume, which he wears when intervening in a police chase, which makes him late for Parker’s show. He calls her that night and tries to apologise. but can’t confess to being Spider-Man. Parker and Osborn attend the press demonstration of Octavius’ fusion reactor, which he controls using “smart arms” connected to his brain maintained by an inhibitor chip. They allow him to endure conditions above Human tolerance. He activates the fusion reactor using tritium. The fusion reactor overloads and breaches containment, attracting all metals. Parker attempts to intervene, but Octavius knocks him aide. The fusion reaction destroys the inhibitor chip, before Parker stabilises the reactor. Octavius is taken to hospital, where arms kill the doctors. Octavius awakens to the horror of what he’s done and runs away to the river, where the arms convince him to finish the project by rebuilding the fusion reactor. He’s persuaded to acquire the money he needs, which he can only do by stealing it.

Plot Point I (minutes 49 – 55)

Parker and his Aunt May are sorting Uncle Ben’s life insurance, when Octavius rips open the bank vault. The arms make him unstoppable, and he starts throwing money bags at Octavius. The fight moves outside, where Octavius kidnaps May. He gets away as Parker saves her, and they brawl on the wall of the bank and across the city. Octavius withdraws, and becomes separated from Parker.

Act II (minute 55 – 116)

Synthesis (minute 55 – 108)

At an event held for Watson and her boyfriend, John Jameson, Parker recites the poetry he read. At that event, Jameson announces his engagement to Watson. Octavius has now begun rebuilding his new fusion reactor. Parker’s powers are disappearing, and he decides he needs a strong focus on what he wants, and renounces Spider-Man. He begins to feel happier and his grades improve. He attends Watson’s show, and talks with her afterwards about their relationship. She tells him that she’s happy with Jameson. The new fusion reactor’s complete, and Octavius makes a deal with Osborn – he’ll give Osborn Spider-Man if Osborn gives him more tritium. Parker and Watson talk-over their relationship in a cafe, where Watson tells him that she thinks she might love him after all, while Parker thinks he might actually not love her after all. Octavius has found Parker, and kidnaps Watson. Parker returns to Spider-Man, and chases Octavius through the city, where they battle once more. Octavius distracts him by sending a train out of control. Parker stops it running off the rails, but exhausts himself in the process. Octavius takes Parker to Osborn, who gives him more tritium. Osborn tells Parker where Octavius’ layer is.

Plot Point II (minutes 108 – 116)

Parker confronts Octavius, who’s completed the fusion reactor. Watson’s freed, and Parker and Octavius duel. The fusion reactor overloads (again), and fries the smart arms in the water of Octavius’ river warehouse. Parker convinces Octavius to drown the fusion reactor in the warehouse. Octavius takes control of the smart arms himself. Parker reveals his Spider-Man identity to Watson and saves her from falling debris. They both confess their mutual love of each other, while Octavius drowns with the fusion reactor in the lake.

Act III (minutes 116 – 125)

Plot resolution (minutes 116 – 121)

Octavius redeemed and the fusion reactor destroyed, Parker reconciles with Watson, who understands why she mustn’t love someone living a dangerous double life. Jameson comes to rescue Watson, as Parker departs into the night. Osborn discovers his father’s layer before attending Watson and Jameson’s wedding.

End (minutes 121 – 125)

At her wedding, Watson’s still reconsidering. She abandons Jameson at the alter and runs to Parker’s apartment and declares her commitment to him. Parker’s called away as Spider-Man and swings through New York to his next adventure as Watson looks on anxiously.

Spider-Man 2.1 — director’s cut review

Premièred by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Spider-Man 2.1
Written by Alvin Sargent

Having already reviewed Spider-Man 2‘s original cinematic edition, all there is to say about Spider-Man 2.1 is about the differences. This is more of a check-list review.

In total, there’s eight minutes of extra scenes.

0:5:49 – 0:7:30. Parker delivering the pizza’s a lot longer. There’s more fumbling in the closet with the brooms. It doesn’t really add anything, but that means it also doesn’t feel much different. Take it.

0:31:29 – 0:33:07. The elevator scene’s longer and the conversation’s different. Whereas before, Parker meets a humble civilian, this time (it’s the same actor), he’s from a PR firm and talks to Parker about his public image. On its own, it’s a much better version of the scene because it’s funnier, but in the grander context, it clashes stylistically with what comes before and after. Take it or leave it.

0:42:22 – 0:44:20. Octavius’ transformation scene is longer, and therefore contains more horror. It’s what Raimi does best, but with more of it. The cinematic edition’s version is only improved. Take it.

0:50:13 – 0:54:45. The Parker/Octavius fight is longer. There’s more to-ing and fro-ing, including an aside where Parker and Octavius fight inside an office. It’s difficult to tell what was included cinematically and is re-inserted here, which makes it work. And nothing is at the extent of pace. Take it.

1:02:05 – 1:03:25 A deleted scene with Watson preparing for the wedding. Although the final scene was built-up to in other places, this adds more character and really gives that final decision more weight. Take it.

1:13:41 – 1:14:04. The highlight of Spider-Man 2.1 – Jameson cosplaying Spider-Man. Regardless of one’s subjective opinion of each edition, it’s universally agreed that this scene makes Spider-Man 2.1 the choice edition, simply for the image. It might not work with a different actor, but J. K. Simmons is a delight to behold. Take it.

1:37:24 – 1:40.07. The train sequence is longer and more padded-out. The original cinematic cut is more straight-to-the-point, whereas this version features more of Sam Raimi’s signature style, in-which things collide with other things. As a Spider-Fan, I find it more satisfying. Take it.

As a director’s cut, Spider-Man 2.1 is almost entirely improved upon its cinematic edition. The elevator scenes could possibly edited together in some way, but it wouldn’t be one continuous shot as originally. Which is a shame, because actor Hal Sparks is a delight and can do anything he’s given. I wouldn’t be surprised if all twenty-five versions of the shot are improvised. The only things I’d change are the way Aasif Mandvi shouts “Go!” at the beginning. Here, it’s more direct, but originally it was funnier just because of the way the actor prolonged it. I just love Aasif Mandvi. And the scene with Osborn before the wedding should have been moved to the final scene. It would have made a brilliant segue into the credits, and it’s the dramatic peak. Originally, it was at that point, but Raimi could have still moved it to the end.

Nevertheless, Spider-Man 2.1 is a better edition than Spider-Man 2, and the scene with Jameson makes the whole thing worth buying for any Spider-Fan.

What the Marvel/Sony deal could, does and should mean…

Marvel Entertainment released a press statement today, confirming that, after a long series of negotiations with Sony Pictures Entertainment, who own Spider-Man’s live-action rights, the character was finally to appear in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, alongside characters such as Iron Man, the Incredible Hulk, Thor, Captain America and the Guardians of the Galaxy.

First, it’s been confirmed that this Spider-Man will be a new incarnation, which will likely require a recasting. The top names reported are Logan Lerman – Sony’s second choice after incumbent Andrew Garfield – and Zac Efron, though America’s Matt Smith, Donald Glover, is a popular choice as well. If Glover were cast, it’s possible Sony would have chosen to start a new Spider-Man series with the Miles Morales identity rather than Parker. Personally, I find that unlikely, since it’s probably a soft reboot with little continuity than the basics, and that would mean the new Spider-Man will still be Parker. Which isn’t to say the series won’t develop into Morales being involved, but that’s only likely to happen once the new Parker’s already established. If Morales were to be featured eventually, I wouldn’t say no to Glover being cast. But I would protest to him being cast as Parker, because he’s much more suited as an actor to Morales. He’s a much more interesting character, and Glover’s probably a decent actor, so it would be a shame to miss that opportunity for combination by wasting the potential just to cast Glover as the de facto Spider-Man, rather than a character far more suited to him. Regardless of who’s cast as Spider-Man, there are a lot of actors capable of doing it. Someone we’ve seen before isn’t necessarily a stunt cast, but could help ease the transition to a new version. And a name we haven’t heard before could work, but Sony might not expect the audience to accept a completely new face. SPE Motion Picture Group President Doug Belgrad said,

“This new level of collaboration is the perfect way to take Peter Parker’s story into the future”,

implying Parker will still be the cinema version of the character.

But that doesn’t mean we’ll have to experience his origin story for a third time. The press release states the new Spider-Man will first be seen in a Marvel Studios production as part of the Cinematic Universe. The implication seems to be that he’ll debut in the solo release of another character. The next MCU release, Joss Whedon‘s Avengers: Age of Ultron, has finished principal photography, so it’s likely this appearance will be in Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely‘s Captain America: Civil War. Leaked Sony emails reveal negotiations were already in place for Spider-Man to appear at that point, given his significant role in the comic book storyline Civil War. As these negotiations have finalised, it’s likely to still be the case, especially as it isn’t too late to rewrite the screenplay. Black Panther’s already been confirmed to debut there as well, as it was speculated that the character’s presence was a Spider-Man substitute. Would there be space to add Spider-Man as well? Maybe not and maybe so, but if it turns out to be true, it would be interesting to see how accurately it follows the source material. From what I hear, Civil War‘s major event is Spider-Man revealing his secret identity to the press, which would be a difficult event to reverse if Sony change their mind. What is confirmed about this release is that it’s going to happen before the 28th July 2017, which means, if not Captain America: Civil War, it would be either Jon Spaihts‘ Doctor Strange or James Gunn‘s Guardians of the Galaxy 2. Making his debut Doctor Strange would be a good idea, as Benedict Cumberbatch would already have attracted audiences, and that would provide maximum exposure. I honestly can’t see it being Guardians of the Galaxy 2, which takes place throughout the Milky Way and far from Earth. I like to think they won’t come to Earth because we already lots of other characters for that. Doctor Strange would be the most effective, Guardians of the Galaxy 2 would be the most unlikely, Captain America: Civil War would be the most likely, but there’s still the possibility of a post-credits cameo in Avengers: Age of Ultron. If the MCU Spider-Man’s pre-established, he’ll have already experienced his origin story. But there should still be one for clarity’s sake, and a post-credits sequence would be the best opportunity for that. We’d be able to see it, it would officially introduce the character, but it wouldn’t take up any unnecessary time in his solo release.

Which is what the 28th July 2017 date’s now reserved for, shunting future MCU releases along futher into the future. There was a five year wait between Sam RaimiIvan Raimi and Alvin Sargent‘s Spider-Man 3 and Steve VanderbiltAlvin Sargent and Steve Kloves‘ The Amazing Spider-Man. Following Alex KurtzmanRoberto Orci and Jeff Pinkner‘s The Amazing Spider-Man 2, there’s now a five year wait again. As it happens, we’ve only discovered this with two of those remaining, so that’s something. Plus, Marvel Studios are very efficient at manufacturing an assembly line of releases, and two years seems like a good length of time before releasing it, because that’s the average between announcement and release.

What’s pleasing is that Spider-Man‘s being produced by Marvel’s Kevin Feige and Sony’s Amy Pascal. They tend to be the equivalents of each other in their respective companies, and actually having a face to the discussions is comforting. I already know them, and respect them, and the fact that this blog post is even being written is testament to their ability to work together.

That being said, Sony still own the character’s cinema rights, and will be financing and majorly controlling future cinema releases for Spider-Man, which is slightly worrying. Sony aren’t as big a company as Disney, and from the way the agreement’s worded, it sounds as if Disney legally can’t fund any Spider-Mans because of Sony’s ownership. If Disney fund it, that gives them a right to grossing shares, and that changes their agreement. The last thing that needs to happen at this stage is for Marvel to violate that agreement, even in a small way, because that would give Sony the power to revoke their agreement. And the fact that Sony still own the character is quite disappointing, but then that’s how it would inevitably turn-out. Spider-Man’s the highest-grossing fictional character, and the MCU’s the highest-grossing cinematic series. It makes sense to unite them. But it’s for that same reason that Sony wouldn’t want to just give up the character, so them coming out of negotiations still owning him makes sense, even if I wish they’d just leave it alone and let Marvel use him how they want without having to stick to any guidelines. It’s this same agreement that says Marvel can’t fund it. And even worse, there’s Sony’s ability to overrule Marvel on any decisions made regarding the character. How Marvel expect to ingratiate the character into their own continuity while also letting Sony have the final say on that character’s releases’ creative decisions is worrying. Can this really work? I don’t know. But I’m just hoping it does. Generally, I think, since Sony need this investment, but Marvel are better at handling their properties, Sony’s only interest will be in making money. So that should mean that the only decisions they’ll be overriding are ones they think will compromise a Spider-Man‘s grossing. But given Marvel’s also a part of it, I can’t see them making the kind of decision that would do that. Hopefully, this will be a case of Sony letting Marvel do their own thing, but overruling them whenever they consider it necessary. And that kind of relationship works for me. If Sony are wise, they’ll use their major creative control to let Marvel do what they know they should.

Interestingly, the agreement specifies that Sony will only have that control over the new Spider-Man series. What that sounds like to me is that whenever Spider-Man appears in a non-Spider-Man, Marvel can use him how they like. So when Spider-Man appears in his debut, which will be part of another series, Marvel have full control. The solo release will then be controlled by Sony, but if Spider-Man then goes on to feature in Avengers: Infinity War — Part I, Sony won’t be involved in that. Which also works for me. A character in the MCU is two things – their own character, and crossover potential. Marvel are likely to care about the crossover potential more than that character’s own solo outings, which makes their compromise more satisfying than it could have been, and also more realistic.

The release also states other MCU characters will appear in the Spider-Man series. How this works between Sony and Marvel is anyone’s guess, but it could be the reverse of what we already have here. Meaning that if Sony wanted to include Antony Stark in Spider-Man 2 (which would be a good move, he’s the MCU’s highest-grossing individual character), he’d only appear on Marvel’s terms. I don’t really see that being a problem, since this agreement has already happened, and I believe in the combined power of Feige and Pascal. They’re like the Infinity Gems and the Infinity Gauntlet – put them together, and you unlock literally endless possibilities.

BAFTA Film Awards – 2015 Original Screenplay nominations

The BAFTA Film Awards airs tonight at 21:00 on BBC One HD, and will announce, among other things, the winners of the Best Original Screenplay and Best Adapted Screenplay awards.

Wes Anderson‘s The Grand Budapest Hotel

Wes Anderson’s screenplay for The Grand Budapest Hotel takes place, for the most part, entirely within the titular building, where a murder occurs, prompting concierge Gustave H. to prove his innocence, which takes him through the various parts of the hotel. Inspired by the writings of Stefan Zweig and his real-world travels, Anderson planned the story with Hugo Guinness, which is divided into six acts: PrologueM. GustaveMadame C.V.D.u.T.Check-point 19 Criminal Internment CampThe Society of the Crossed KeysThe Second Copy of the Second Will and Epilogue.

The character H. was inspired by someone Anderson and Guinness both knew. When creating him, the original screenplay draft was a short, and not set in the past or a hotel. Anderson was inspired to revise it when discovering Zweig’s writings. Beware of Pity influenced the opening scenes, which Zweig used in his other writings, in-which a character living on the edge of society meets an equally interesting character, which is how The Grand Budapest Hotel begins. Zweig’s further influences in the screenplay involve the decline of an empire, developing division and declining independance.

Anderson’s previous nominations include The Royal Tenenbaums with Owen Wilson.

Damien Chazelle‘s Whiplash

Chazelle’s Whiplash was nominated by The Oscars for Best Adapted Screenplay, whereas The BAFTA Film Awards have nominated it for Best Original Screenplay. To encourage interest and funding, Chazelle produced a short film from an extract of the screenplay, which The Oscars determine to make the finished product an adaptation. The BAFTA Film Awards determined it to only be an adaptation of itself, and therefore be considered an original screenplay.

Artistic inspiration behind Whiplash can be found in Chazelle’s previous work, Grand Piano, in-which a pianist will be killed by a sniper if he plays a wrong note. This situation is threaded through Whiplash, with playing out-of-time causing music teacher Terrance Fletcher to become violent and aggressive. Writing Whiplash began as reaction to writing another screenplay, which wasn’t working. Chazelle instead began focusing on his other idea of being a jazz drummer, based on his own experiences with a real teacher. It was for this reason that he initially didn’t want to share the screenplay, which felt “too personal”, and for a long time it was in a drawer. It eventually gained interest from producers, but not enough for any to fund it. The Black List ranked it among the top unproduced screenplays of the year, leading to it being greenlit.

This is Chazelle’s first nomination.

Dan Gilroy‘s Nightcrawler

Gilroy’s aim with Nightcrawler was to write a screenplay with a “moral darkness” that would highlight Los Angeles’ best aspects. In that way, it counterbalanced the sociopathic tendancies of Louis Bloom with news media’s own sociopathic nature. It works as a form of alternative psychology, by presenting sociopathy as a scale, and presenting the numerous ways it can manifest in all people. The vulnerability of the characters is another key element to it, which also balanced the sociopathic themes, which both bring-out each other.

Nightcrawler was inspired by Arthur Fellig. the first crime photographer to follow events with a police scanner in his car, who inspired others to do the same. Part of Bloom’s character was inspired by Weegee’s biopic, Howard Franklin‘s The Public Eye. Gilroy based Bloom on a coyote, nocturnal animals often seen around Los Angeles late at night that are never. From there, he wrote Bloom as never being fed spiritually, with his hunger extending itself with every feeding. Bloom’s addicted to the scenes he photographs. This hunger’s the catalyst of his success story, which Gilroy says made him not want to label Bloom with a label that reduces his character. He has sociopathic tendencies, but from a desire to be a self-employed business owner, which is also a very Human feeling.

This is Gilroy’s first nomination.

Alejandro González Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris Jr. and Armando Bo‘s Birdman (or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

The majority of praise for Birdman (or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) has focused on its metatextuality within 2010 cinema. During the peak of the superhero genre trend, it presented the audience with an out-of-work Michael Keaton, who’s career was made with Sam Hamm and Warren Skaaren‘s Batman and and Daniel Waters‘ Batman Returns. Here, Keaton’s Riggan Thomas attempts to stage a comeback through directing a production of When we Talk About When we Talk About Love. Along the way, he encounters Edward Norton of Zak Penn‘s The Incredible Hulk. In this version, Norton is an actor in a similar situation, not only being a further reflection of Keaton’s declining career as a former superhero, but as Norton’s own status as having been replaced as the character in Joss Whedon‘s Marvel’s the Avengers by Mark Ruffalo (also nominated for Best Supporting [Male] Actor as Dave Schultz in E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman‘s Foxcatcher). Also appearing as Sam Thomas is Emma Stone, who’s most famous role – arguably – is Gwen Stacy in James VanderbiltAlvin Sargent and Steve Kloves‘ The Amazing Spider-Man, before being killed-off by Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci and Jeff Pinkner in The Amazing Spider-Man 2. It’s Stone who’s nominated for Best Supporting [Female Actor], due in part to a scene in-which she talks of how nobody really matters. It’s this theme of being dispensable that makes it a story of people who are existing on the edges of their own existence. It may be a meta-parody of the superhero genre, but more than that is it a Human interest.

This is their first nomination.

Richard Linklater‘s Boyhood

Though showing the life of a family over twelve years, Boyhood was scripted and followed a pre-constructed narrative that was altered with every year’s filming in collaboration with the cast. Linklater called it a document of time, though it resembles a documentary to show the indistinction between fiction and non-fiction. The screenplay’s a compilation of smaller screenplays written every year that follow-on, like an inconsistently-lengthed serial. But it still feels like one story, with each year’s segment remaining part of the same thing, rather than seguing into tangents. This was largely a result of the collaboration with the actors, who also began to know where the characters were themselves going. Linklater wanted each year not to noticeably transition, but to only exist through perception, with the effect of the film being emotion created by realising the passage of time. It relied on the audience’s nostalgia, and the emotion that comes that hindsight.

This is Linklater’s first nomination.

Spider-Man 3 — review

Adapted by Alvin Sargent, Ivan Raimi and Sam Raimi from Amazing Spider-Man by Stan Lee.

 

What made Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2 so great was Peter Parker’s character development, and how that transcended the story to become relatable for all of us, while also running parallel with other characters, who were experiencing their own equivalent. It also felt natural, with everything a discrete progression in line with what Uncle Ben said in Spider-Man of these years in Parker’s life being what will turn him into the man he’ll be for the rest of his life. And so, because Sony weren’t sure whether Spider-Man 4 would happen, Spider-Man 3 was written as the conclusion to a trilogy. In doing so, it attempted to wrap everything up rather than do what the previous two had done, which was to just make an enjoyable story. Spider-Man 2 doesn’t completely wrap things up, but it could have made its duology. Spider-Man 3, however, rushed itself to include everything it wanted to, even if most of those things weren’t needed at all.

The main thing about Spider-Man 3 is Venom, as he’s the person who takes Parker to the dark side. Venom then becomes Eddie Brock, who’s like a darker Parker himself. That formula was a good one to start with, and had the story been about Parker and Venom/Brock, it could have been an interesting character piece. But Venom’s relevance is as a manifestation of a person’s darker side. Curt Connors even explains that it amplifies a person’s traits, and so Parker becomes a vengeful vigilante, and learns that he isn’t above these people, who aren’t heartless. But that was already apparent from his relationship with Otto Octavius in Spider-Man 2; what made Octavius such a popular villain is the way he was treated as a real person, and that’s what made Spider-Man 2 great for everybody, as did the way it balanced the light and the dark. Whereas Spider-Man 3 is almost trying too hard to be dark, and isn’t trying hard enough to be light. It’s almost as if Venom is bringing out the darker side of the trilogy itself.

So while Venom’s inclusion is based on recycled ideas, it would have still been a clever continuation of the trilogy’s dualistic themes. It could even ended with Brock becoming Spider-Man – that would have really added something to the story in motion and kept it new. But instead, Flint Marko’s Sandman’s added as well, and that’s the main problem with Spider-Man 3: it doesn’t know how to handle multiple villains. The same criticism is given of Akiva Goldsman’s Batman & Robin, which included Victor “Mr. Freeze” Fries, Pamela “Poison Ivey” Isley and Antonio “Bane” Diego. But multiple villains isn’t the problem with either Spider-Man 3 or Batman & Robin, it’s that neither can handle them. The Nolans’ The Dark Knight features The Joker, Two-Face and Salvatore Maroni, yet balances them in a way that makes it considered the best Batman adaptation. Multiple villains isn’t what makes Spider-Man 3 just not work, but the lack of cohesion in them.

Marko contributes absolutely nothing. He’s introduced completely separately to the story, just so we can see his family background and understand what kind of a person he is. And his transformation into Sandman also has nothing to do with Spider-Man. And ultimately, all he does with Spider-Man is just cause a few public disturbances. It’s explained that he killed Uncle Ben, but the way it’s done shows just how much of a retcon this is – that it was never a plan, and was only included just make the same point being made by Venom. And yet Venom gets much less screentime than desired because of it.

And yet, Marko isn’t even defeated. He just explains to Parker what happened, and Parker forgives him, like it was an accident. But it wasn’t an accident – he killed Uncle Ben because he has a really itchy trigger finger. And then Marko just goes away and is never seen again. When the tertiary villain isn’t defeated, clearly, he doesn’t need to be there. But instead, he makes a verbal point to Parker about forgiveness, even though this would have been much more subtle if the story had the confidence to stick with Venom, and what it meant for Parker rather than giving him a straight-out lecture. It’s as if the creative team had suddenly forgotten how to write Spider-Man and tried to compensate for it by being unexpectedly dark. But it isn’t really that dark, because Venom’s screentime is taken-up by a villain who’s only there because he was clumsily retconned into the trilogy in order to do exactly the same thing as the very villain he’s replacing.

And then there’s Harry Osborn. Great God, Harry Osborn. People say the worst thing about Spider-Man 3 is “emo Peter Parker” and his dancing, but it isn’t. Because at least there he’s being affected be Venom (of course, dark doesn’t equal emo, and emos don’t tend to dance to jazz music, but whatever). No. The actual worst thing about Spider-Man 3 is Harry Osborn and “that bit in the kitchen” in-which he dances with Mary Watson. It’s absolutely awful, because it’s totally out of character. I wonder if James Franco, a wonderfully charismatic actor, really hates Sam Raimi now. Probably not, to be honest, since Raimi himself admits Spider-Man 3 sucks. And if the director says that, there really is no hope for it.

Not to mention that Osborn has a horrible conclusion to his plotline. With Venom and Marko already pushing each-other out of the doorway to the story, Osborn is sidelined in the quickest (and unimaginable) way possible: he’s given amnesia. We begin with him chasing Parker through New York, even though he shouldn’t really hate him anymore. He’s discovered his father was Green Goblin, so it makes sense for him to understand why he had to die. But apparently not. Then he’s ejected into hospital with no memory of anything, until his butler reveals that Norman Osborn was killed by his own glider. Why he’s waited this long to tell him really makes no sense. And his butler knew all this time that Norman Osborn was Green Goblin? And he never said? So finally, he forgives Parker and sacrifices himself to save him by taking the bullet, even though the clear third option was just to take-on Venom himself. Or to maybe deal with Marko.

All of this happens in a very haphazard third act that looks more like fanfiction than anything else. Everyone’s teamed-up to stop Marko, though Marko himself has no qualification to be here and ultimately isn’t stopped anyway. I’d make some sort of conclusion about it, but the multiple plot arcs have no cohesion and there isn’t a through-line to anything. It really just isn’t very good.

 

Spider-Man 3: wrong choices and no cohesion 2/10.

Screenplay by Sam Raimi & Ivan Raimi and Alving Sargent

Spider-Man 2 — review

Adapted by Alvin Sargent from Spider-Man no More! by Stan Lee.

 

What’s so great about Spider-Man? I’ll tell you what’s so great about Spider-Man – this.

I’ve recently been going through the Spider-Man series, and eventually got to this one, having heard the legends of its greatness and legacy. Honestly, I still think it’s underrated.

The hero’s journey formula might be criticised regularly, but Spider-Man 2 shows what it’s capable of when done exactly right. Having done a more-than-satisfactory origin story, Sam Raimi, the director I’d aspire to be like, rolls-out the main event: the sequel. With everything established, we can go into a story allowed to have more time due out of not needing set-up. And at the heart of it’s Peter Parker, a protagonist I often say is the most relatable and inspiring. I myself have many moments through the day when I feel like him, and this motion picture was almost therapy, especially because I’m feeling quite low at the moment.
Ultimately, it’s a story of priorities. Parker has so much stuff happening in his life that each aspect of himself begins to wane, to the point that he realises he has to pick himself up and decide what he really wants, and to chase it.

And “what I want” is the theme of the story for everyone. Parker still desires Mary Watson, who in-turn discovers she really loves him. Aunt May wants to move-on from Uncle Ben’s death, John Jameson switches between wanting Spider-Man stopped and then wanting him back, while Harry Osborn wants to discover who Spider-Man is to kill him.
Following the narrative begun in Spider-Man, the dualism remains the driving factor, with Parker and Osborn against each-other by the time the story’s concluded, but it’s executed in a way I’d willingly compare to William Shakespeare’s Hamlet. The Prince of Denmark is young, and must decide if what he wants is valuable enough to endure the challenges it brings, or to give-up. Parker gives a similar speech during Spider-Man 2 in the window of his apartment, while Osborn discovers who Spider-Man really is, and drops his knife, and falls back into his chair out of pure shock. And it ends with a wedding, and everyone’s happy.

But it’s not just that. Osborn and Otto Octavius aren’t the only protagonists, but so is Parker himself. They exist on the fringes of his perception of the world, and the real battle is fought within him as he learns how to be happy, and to appreciate what he’s got and who he is. By the time the credits rolled, I’d shed a few tears. I’m not afraid to admit that. It’s a movie. But it speaks to all of us in a way personal and specific, and it’s an excellent example of how we all consume cinema in our, unique way. The one factor of Spider-Man 2 I appreciate the most is its representation of the Human condition, and that makes Spider-Man more superhuman than anyone. It does exactly what Spider-Man did – take the characters to challenging places, and build them up even higher. It just takes them to more extremes.
Spider-Man 2: the best superhero’s best film. 10/10Screenplay by Alvin Sargent

The Amazing Spider-Man — review

Adapted by James Vanderbilt, Steve Kloves and Alvin Sargent from The Amazing Spider-Man by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko.

 

Did you know Spider-Man is the highest-grossing fictional character? When taking into account everything, merely including cinema, he’s earned more money than any other character. So it’s no surprise Columbia Pictures want to keep the character. The Amazing Spider-Man was originally Spider-Man 4, but numerous reasons lead to it being a reboot. This meant re-telling his origin story, introducing a new actor as Spider-Man and reinventing the franchise. Many of the positive reviews I give are often due to me considering something to be an accomplishment, and The Amazing Spider-Man is definitely an accomplishment. Because never, in anything else, have I found myself being so immersed in a story because of the combination between character and actor. Andrew Garfield was the perfect casting choice, due to his subtle nuances and ability to make Peter Parker the everyboy, while also showing him to be extraordinary.

As someone’s who never read a single issue of The Amazing Spider-Man, it’s never been a part of me. And I haven’t, as yet, seen any of the original trilogy. This was the first Spider-Man-related product I was exposed to, and that makes me see it as the perfect representation of what that world is probably like. Hiring Mark Webb, the director of (500) Days of Summer, was a genius move. Too many people make the mistake of labelling genres based on setting, rather than characters. The Amazing Spider-Man is, based on Peter Parker’s relationship with Gwen Stacy, a teen comedy drama. And it’s the Parker/Stacy relationship that’s at the heart of the story, and his transformation into Spider-Man is just a part of that. It’s a part of that story, rather than being the story. Which is totally the right way to do  it – I care more about who’s under the mask, and what’s going on in his life. Everything is attached to the romance plot, and the whole story feels imbued with it. There’s a magic to it, because we find ourselves instantly loving our lead actor and protagonist, as well as a darkness, because of the themes and what the characters go through. But ultimately, as is every story, the latter is the most important thing. It’s a story about characters who come closer together because they’re missing something. Parker’s missing his parents, and this brings him closer to Stacy. Stacy’s Father dies, and this brings her closer to Parker. Uncle Ben dies, and this brings Aunt May closer to Parker. The only person who doesn’t come closer to someone is Curtis Connors, who’s missing his arm. And he deals with that through scientific means, rather than emotional means. One of the things about Spider-Man is his ability to be an emotional character, and can show us – because he’s the Everyboy – that emotion is an advantage. Emotion is at the heart of the story, and the story is about how emotion will save us. Spider-Man isn’t like Batman; he doesn’t deal with his trauma by beating people, and he isn’t like Superman, by snapping necks because of his anger. Spider-Man lets it out, shows us it’s going to be okay, and is able to still be happy. We like Peter Parker because he’s happy, despite everything. It’s a bittersweet tale of a person who’s learned to appreciate things, and I’d say that’s what makes The Amazing Spider-Man stand-out as a motion picture: it’s the story of the man behind the mask. It’s about Peter Parker. Others could be Spider-Man, but only he can make him amazing.

And for the first time, we have a character transformed into a superhero, who actually freaks out about becoming a superhero. Were I to acquire superpowers, my initial reaction would be “Holy fuckballs, I’m a fucking superhuman!” They’re only fiction, and in becoming Spider-Man, he embraces it in the most believable way. Which is to go “Ahahahahahaha! Screw you guys, I’ve got superpowers”. Don’t lie – you’d do it. As Webb had only really directed independents up until this point, he’d learned to check the egos at the door. The story isn’t about promoting the characters, it’s just showing us them, and letting us appreciate them for what they are. In Batman adaptations (which I don’t dislike), his most common phrase is “I’m Batman!”, and Superman is dripping with egomania. But this isn’t about the superhero, it’s about the secret identity, and unlike others that attempt to do this, actually seems to know how. That’s why I’ve constantly referred him to as Peter Parker, not Spider-Man. Because one of those is an alias. Only one of them’s a character.

The Amazing Spider-Man: the superhero genre’s Citizen Kane. 8/10