Tuesday, July 17, 2012

A Reboot Made for Walking

I did a little assumptive research before starting this post into why the universe now has a movie called "The Amazing Spider-Man" as part of its cinematic tapestry, and I have to admit, when you're good you're good.  My hunch was that there was trouble in paradise in the Sam Raimi camp, maybe over some sort of contract dispute or creative differences that sent him packing.  And with the arrival this weekend of the final chapter of a real reboot, "The Dark Knight Rises," my intent was to rip apart the new Spider-Man movie, offer my definition as to what a "reboot" was, and then, in the case of Spider-Man, ask why we needed one so soon. 

But now I know.

Let me first say that the term reboot is being thrown around far too liberally for my taste these days.  It seems that there are a few Hollywood executives that need to flip back through their producer's glossaries and look up that word.  Good reboots involve a good amount of reimagining, and really, this latter term should be used in place of the former.  "It's getting a reimagining."  It may clarify some things around the production table when ideas and scripts are given the green light.  Christopher Nolan, for instance, reimagined Batman.  He took it from the weird ice-capade that Joel Schumacher turned it into and brought it back to where I think Tim Burton really wanted to go in the first place.  Of course, this Burton thing is just my opinion, and I'm saying this because I believe that the original franchise helmed my Burton had a marketing and promotional team that was teasing us with the reality of such a film without actually delivering.  We were all salivating over the vision of a sinister Gotham that was closer to the comics than the Adam West camp.  But the truth is, as soon as the opening credits started in 1989's "Batman," in came the camp.  The follow-up, 1992's "Batman Returns," was showing signs of derailing even then and really doesn't stand up to multiple viewings.  They were good movies, but not great movies.  Then came Joel Schumacher and his two films that I won't even mention by name, delegating them to that same place where the knowledge that Joel Schumacher even directed two Batman movies resides.  Who cares about the "nipples on the Batsuit" thing when there were questions like: did Jim Carrey's Riddler have a light and sound guy in his hideout?  I mean, designing all of those spinning, green-neon question marks would have been the least of my worries as a villain.

But I digress.

I think what we have here in the case of "The Amazing Spider-Man" is a Joel Schumacher-type thing.  The Marc Webb (I know, "Webb", right?) vision is less of a reimagining than it is a regurgitation brought about by some Hollywood one-upmanship.  I can appreciate the idea of taking Peter Parker back to his roots, and in some strange way, bypassing the origin story of his spidey powers was merciful.  But this was only because I didn't want to see it again!  The only problem is that this is a reboot, and unfortunately, it goes with the territory.  In all actuality, when I saw this movie two weeks ago, my first thought was that it was nothing we haven't seen before, and in fact, it was a lot less.  I smelled a rat.  And now I know why.

And it seems that it was just a matter of making a deadline.  Sam Raimi just couldn't do it creatively and put his name on it, and thus, neither could any of his cast or crew.  But from what I've read, it was an amicable split, complete with the standard-issue statements about how incredible the opportunity was and all of that.  If only I had known this going in, not only would it have forgiven this reboot that happened just five years after the last Sam Raimi Spider-Man movie, but I probably wouldn't have had such high expectations.

Now, I'm not going to go into why Christopher Nolan's reboot is the real deal.  Just look at "The Amazing Spider-Man," and like Gene Wilder said in the first Willy Wonka movie, "Strike that, reverse it."

See what I did there?  Because not only was there a new Willy Wonka movie that wasn't as good as the original, but it was directed by the original Batman director, and ...

Perhaps I need a reboot.