Tommy Ingram's Eclectic Variety Show

How these curiosities would be quite forgot, did not such idle fellows as I am put them down.

Category: Comic Books

Thoughts on adapting Spider-Man

Despite having an arachnophobia that extends as far as an aversion to touching the word “spider” in print, I have a certain fondness for Spider-Man. Not the comics, which I’ve never read, but the deeper essence of the Spider-Man character of which the comics are a mere instantiation. For me this is best displayed in the 1967 animated series.

Superheroes are like the heroes of Greek myth in that they appear in many different incarnations: each writer does his or her “take” on Spider-Man, Batman, etc., and this take is informed by some central idea of what the character’s about. But this central idea may not be incarnated anywhere—that is, there may be no quintessential version of Superman or Theseus (just as there is no quintessential version of any commonly played jazz standard) even though there is a concept of what is essential to those characters.

I don’t think that any recent Spider-Man adaptation really gets at the essential Spider-Man. However, I think that this latest cynical, soulless, and incompetent movie was actually closer than the previous three watchable ones. In no particular order, these are my ideas about what is absolutely important for Spider-Man as a character. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: The Amazing Spider-Man

Unlike most people complaining about the latest Spider-Man movie, I’m no fan of the previous three. Spider-Man 3 was obviously beyond the pale, but 1 and 2 never really drew me in, either. It’s unfortunate, because I believe a good movie could be made about Spider-Man. It just hasn’t happened yet. And now that The Amazing Spider-Man is in theatres, it still hasn’t happened.

You probably know the background: the creators and cast of the previous series were booted off the Spider-Man 4 project, and a reboot was hastily put together to fulfil contractual requirements. They acquired a younger, less likeable actor to play Spidey and a new director whose name is more amenable to puns. They shot a load of footage, put the whole thing together, hacked it up in response to test audiences, and then shovelled it out to theatres on a Tuesday night just to get the whole thing over with. These are not ideal circumstances for artistic integrity or even skilled hackwork, but someone who cared enough could make it work.

Unfortunately, no one did. The Amazing Spider-Man, in addition to whatever other flaws it may have, is shot through with cynicism in every frame. Not even the music escaped this: James Horner’s score steals sweeping string lines (a practice we abandoned for a reason) from old school Hollywood and “epic” choir parts from movie trailers. Every plot detail and character trait is prefabricated, and each scene is so obviously tailored for a specific demographic that there must be a bingo card or drinking game to be made. Read the rest of this entry »

Spidey Shrugged

With great power comes great responsibility

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