Film Crit Hulk Smash: HULK SMASHES THE PUNY PARADIGMS OF FILM CRITICISM WITH HULK-SIZED SEMIOTICAL ESSAYS ON STORYTELLING, CINEMATIC PRINCIPLES, AND MEDIA THEORY! HULK EVEN MAKE PRACTICAL HOW-TO GUIDES! See More...

Film Crit Hulk Smash: THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN HAS 99 PROBLEMS BUT AN UNCLE BEN AIN’T ONE

Hulk gets smashy with the newest Spidey story. 

Film Crit Hulk Smash: THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN HAS 99 PROBLEMS BUT AN UNCLE BEN AIN’T ONE

THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN IS A MESS.

BUT IT'S THE KIND OF FILM THAT DOESN'T CARRY ITSELF LIKE A MESS AND THIS MAKES THINGS A LITTLE TRICKY. TO WIT: THE LOFTY, YET COMPLETELY HAPHAZARD PROMETHEUS GAVE US THE MOST PASSIONATE CRITICAL DISCUSSION OF THE YEAR. BUT THE END RESULT OF A FILM LIKE THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN (TASM FROM NOW ON) IS THAT A LOT OF CRITICS JUST SORT OF SHRUG THEIR SHOULDERS DUE TO A LACK OF ANY IMMEDIATE AND APPARENT OFFENSE AND END UP GIVING IT A PASS.

THIS IS WHERE HULK ADMITS THAT IT IS PRECISELY THIS KIND OF "BUT IF YOU REALLY LOOK AT IT!" TYPE OF FILM THAT MOST BOTHERS HULK. AND PERHAPS THAT'S NOT ENTIRELY FAIR. AFTER SPENDING THOUSANDS OF WORDS TALKING ABOUT THE NUANCE INVOLVED IN WHAT MAKES A MOVIE GOOD, IT CERTAINLY MAKES IT HARD TO GET UP HERE AND TALK SO CONCRETELY ABOUT A MOVIE HAVING OBVIOUS PROBLEMS AND WHY THOSE PROBLEMS MATTER, ESPECIALLY WHEN THEY ARE ONLY THE SORT OF PROBLEMS THAT MOST OTHER  PEOPLE CAN HAPPILY GLOSS OVER WITHOUT IT AFFECTING THEIR ENJOYMENT.

SO WHY SHOULD THE FOLLOWING ARGUMENT OF HULK'S ACTUALLY MATTER? IF PEOPLE DIDN'T FIND IT BAD OR GENUINELY LIKED IT IN SOME CASES, WHO IS HULK TO SAY THEY'RE WRONG? ESPECIALLY IF SOME OF THEM ARE PEOPLE HULK RESPECTS, THE KIND OF GENUINELY SMART MOVIE-GOERS WHO UNDERSTAND WHAT THEY LIKE? IN THE END, HULK HAS TO ASK A DIFFERENT QUESTION ENTIRELY: IF THE MAJORITY OF MOVIE-GOERS WATCH THIS MOVIE AND SHRUG IT OFF WITH SOME SENTIMENT OF "EH, IT'S NOT BAD" ... THEN WHAT DOES THAT REALLY IMPLY?

HULK ARGUES THAT IT MEANS THE DEEP TISSUE PROBLEMS ARE ABSOLUTELY AFFECTING THE MOVIE, BUT SINCE THEY AREN'T OBVIOUS (COUGH COUGH TANGIBLE DETAILS) NO ONE CAN REALLY WORK UP A TANGIBLE REASON TO GET ANGRY. IN SUCH A CASE, THE DEFAULT POSITION IS JUST TO LET A FILM'S INERT QUALITIES WASH OVER YOU. AND WITH TASM SPECIFICALLY, HULK SUGGESTS THEY WERE SIMPLY RIDING THE EVEN-HANDED SENTIMENT/TONE OF THE FILM AND LORD KNOWS A LOT OF FILMS CAN GET AWAY WITH THAT. BUT WAS THAT THE LONE GOAL OF SONY AND THE FILMMAKERS? IS THAT EVEN-HANDED MEDIOCRITY REALLY ALL THEY WANTED? IF SO, THEN FINE. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.

BUT HULK CAN ASSURE YOU THEY WANTED MORE. AND THEREFORE, HULK CAN ASSURE YOU THAT THE KINDS OF PROBLEMS HULK DISCUSSES IN THIS ESSAY ARE ABSOLUTELY THE REASON THIS FILM DOES NOT AND WILL NOT RESONATE. THESE PROBLEMS ARE THE REASON THAT NOBODY IS WALKING OUT THE FILM AND YELLING "WOW, THAT WAS FANTASTIC!" OR COMPARING IT FAVORABLY WITH SOMETHING THAT ACTUALLY STRUCK A CHORD LIKE THE AVENGERS (A MOVIE THAT HAS JUST AS MANY "PROBLEMS" BUT KNOWS HOW TO RESONATE). BUT IT IS THIS LACK OF RESONANCE THAT WILL LIKELY LEAD TO AN INSIDIOUS, SILENT DEATH FOR TASM. WITHOUT THE SURFACE-LEVEL MESSINESS, THERE WILL BE NO LOVE/HATE DYNAMIC TO GET US THROUGH THE WEEKS. A CRITICAL SHRUG SIMPLY MEANS THIS MOVIE WILL SLIP OUT OF THE COLLECTIVE CONSCIOUSNESS, JUST LIKE SO MANY "IMPORTANT" SUMMER TENT-POLES THAT HAVE GONE BEFORE IT.

STILL, HULK CAN'T LIE... THE FACT THAT SO MANY PEOPLE GIVING THIS FILM A PASS IS GIVING HULK A BIT OF AN EXISTENTIAL CRISIS WHEN IT COMES TO THE CRITICISM.

HULK PRETTY MUCH SPENDS HULK'S ENTIRE DAY CARING ABOUT STORY. THINGS LIKE NARRATIVE PROPULSION, DRAMA CONSTRUCTS, STORY ARC, THEMATIC COHESION AND CHARACTER PURPOSE. HULK BASICALLY STUDIES THE SCIENCE OF CINEMATIC INTENTION: MEANING SCENES SHOULD HAVE A REASON TO BE THERE AND CHARACTERS SHOULD HAVE A REASON FOR THINGS THEY ARE DOING. THESE CONCEPTS ARE VERY REAL THINGS TO HULK. THEY ARE HULK'S TRADE. AND IF THERE IS ANYTHING THAT HULK HAS LEARNED IN LOOKING OVER THE HISTORY OF CINEMA AND OBSERVING THE KINDS OF NARRATIVE FILMS, SHOWS, BOOKS OR MEDIA THAT BEST CONNECT WITH PEOPLE... IT IS NARRATIVES THAT UNDERSTAND THESE MOST BASIC CONCEPTS. AND LO AND BEHOLD, THEY ARE THE ONES THAT GO ON TO BECOME WILD SUCCESSES (LOOK AT THE LIST OF TOP GROSSING FILMS ADJUSTED FOR INFLATION). PLEASE NOTICE HOW THIS IS NOT A MATTER OF PLOT CLARITY OR THAT MYSTERY CAN'T BE INVOLVED. HULK TALKING SANCTITY OF SCENE INTENTION AND CHARACTER UNDERSTANDING. AND NO MATTER HOW MUCH WHEEL-SPINNING OR TANGENTIAL FUN YOU HAVE IN A GIVEN MOVIE, IF YOU OPERATE ALONG THESE BASIC GUIDELINES YOU WILL HAVE A MOVIE THAT RESONATES WITH PEOPLE. ADHERE TO THE ELEMENTAL PRINCIPALS OF CHARACTER, STORY AND DRAMA AND YOU CAN SUCCEED.(1)

AND THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN DOESN'T ACTUALLY HAVE A STORY.

IT DOESN'T. THAT STATEMENT MAY ELICIT A GREAT BIG "WHAT?" FROM YOU, BUT IT REALLY DOESN'T. HULK KNOWS WHAT STORIES ARE. HULK KNOWS HOW THEY WORK. IT'S HULK'S JOB TO KNOW. AND THIS FILM DOES NOT HAVE ONE (WE WILL GET TO THE SPECIFICS OF WHY IN A BIT). SURE, THE FILM DOES ITS BEST TO SKIRT AWAY FROM THAT TROUBLESOME BURDEN OF STORY BY ATTEMPTING TO GET BY ON TEXTURE, GREAT ACTORS, NICE COLOR AESTHETICS AND SOME OKAY-ISH ACTION, BUT IT DOESN'T WORK. THERE'S NO CONNECTIVE TISSUE. NO REASON FOR EACH SCENE TO BE HAPPENING. THE SCENES JUST HAPPEN... WHICH IS PRECISELY THE REASON THE FILM FEELS LIKE IT'S 50 DAMN HOURS LONG. BUT HEY, RELENTLESS BOREDOM IS ONE THING, CRIPPLING REALIZATIONS ARE ANOTHER. AND EVERY SINGLE PROBLEM IN THIS FILM STEMS FROM THE INESCAPABLE FACT IT DOESN'T ACTUALLY HAVE A STORY TO TELL.

DOES ALL THIS STORY STUFF ACTUALLY MATTER THAT MUCH? IN TRADITIONAL NARRATIVE, YES. WHEN YOU HAVE A CHARACTER BEHAVING IN A WAY THAT DOESN'T LINE UP WITH THE STORY, OR YOU HAVE BEAT THAT DOESN'T COME OFF CORRECTLY WITH PREVIOUS INFORMATION, YOU ARE ESSENTIALLY TRYING TO TELL THE AUDIENCE THE FOLLOWING IDEA: 2+2 = 5. GRANTED, THE MATH IS A LITTLE BIT MORE COMPLICATED AND NOT EVERYONE CAN SEE IT, BUT IT IS STILL AN INEXORABLE PROBLEM. AND FOR THOSE WHO DON'T NOTICE IT, THIS LACK OF COHESION CAN CAUSE THEM TO BECOME SILENTLY UNNERVED. SOMETHING SIMPLY BOTHERS THEM OR BORES THEM. THEY DON'T CONNECT TO THE FILM. AND FROM THERE? THEY GO ON TO BLAME THE FAR MORE TANGIBLE THING (IN SPIDER-MAN 3'S CASE, IT WAS DANCE SEQUENCES). BUT THIS ARGUMENT DOESN'T EXPLAINS WHAT HULK MEANS ABOUT THE STORY FAILURES OF THIS SPECIFIC FILM. HULK REALLY HAS TO GET SPECIFIC (SPOILERS AND WHATNOT).

IN ORDER TO TALK ABOUT THE FAILURES OF TASM, LET'S QUALIFY WHAT THE FILM DOES RIGHT: UNCLE BEN.

UNCLE BEN IS WHAT ANY CHARACTER SHOULD BE IN A PROPER NARRATIVE: HE ALWAYS HAS A CLEAR PURPOSE. YOU ALWAYS UNDERSTAND WHERE HE'S COMING FROM. AND THOSE BEHAVIORS ADD UP TO GIVE HIM A FULL SPECTRUM OF BEHAVIOR THAT IS STILL IN LINE WITH HIS PERSONALITY. IN ONE SCENE HE'LL BE WORRIED. ANOTHER HE CAN BE OFFSETTING LIGHTER TENSION WITH HUMOR. IN ANOTHER SCENE HE CAN GET ANGRY FOR DUE REASON AND SHOW TOUGH LOVE. AND IN ANOTHER HE CAN TRY TO REACH OUT WITH SENTIMENTAL LOVE. BUT THE KEY IS THAT UNCLE BEN IS ALWAYS REACTING TO A TANGIBLE THING THAT GIVES HIM A REASON TO BEHAVE THAT WAY, WHETHER IT'S A SPECIFIC EVENT OR EVEN PETER'S EMOTIONAL STATE. THIS MEANS YOU ALWAYS UNDERSTAND WHERE HE IS COMING FROM. THAT'S HOW CHARACTERIZATION SHOULD WORK. HE'S A FULLY-REALIZED HUMAN BEING. ONE SHOULD ALWAYS UNDERSTAND WHY THE WORDS THAT ARE COMING OUT OF SOMEONE'S MOUTH ARE BEING SAID. AND THE WORDS THAT ARE BEING SAID AND SHOULD LINE UP WITH WHAT IS BEING ESTABLISHED IN THE STORY AND THEME. IT SHOULD ALL WORK TOGETHER. AND THAT'S WHAT THE WORDS OF UNCLE BEN DO IN THIS FILM. BETTER YET? THE WORDS ARE BEING SPOKEN BY MARTIN FREAKIN' SHEEN, AN ACTOR SO DEPENDABLE WE FORGET HOW GOOD HE REALLY IS. AND HULK THOUGHT HE WAS JUST TREMENDOUS IN THIS FILM. HIS UNCLE BEN IS KIND, RESPONSIBLE AND WELL-ARTICULATED. THERE'S A WORKING-CLASS SENSE OF DECENCY, PRIDE AND HUMILITY THAT JUST RADIATES BEAUTIFULLY. THIS MAY SOUND STUPID, BUT HULK THINKS HIS FEW SHORT SCENES MIGHT BE SOME OF HIS BEST WORK IN YEARS. THERE IS NO REAL DENYING THAT HE IS THE BEST PART OF THE FILM BY FAR.

AND YET A NUMBER OF PEOPLE ARE WALKING OUT OF THIS FILM CLAIMING THAT THE ROMANTIC RELATIONSHIP IS THE BEST PART OF THE STORY... THIS IS BOTH TOTALLY UNDERSTANDABLE, YET PERSONALLY DISAPPOINTING. AS DEVIN ACCURATELY STATED ONE OF THE BIG PROBLEMS IS THAT THEY LIKE EACH OTHER IMMEDIATELY. THERE IS NO CONFLICT. NO ARC. REALLY, THERE'S NO NOTHING. WHERE THEY ARE THE BEGINNING OF THE MOVIE IS LARGELY WHERE THEY ARE AT THE END OF THE MOVIE. THINK ABOUT IT. THEY MEET EACH OTHER IMMEDIATELY. THEY FLIRT. LATER SHE TRIES TO CONSOLE HIM BUT HE JUST TURNS HER AWAY LIKE A SELF-PITYING POOP. TIME GOES BY AND SHE RANDOMLY HAS HIM OVER FOR DINNER. THEY FLIRT MORE. THEY MAKE GOOD ON FLIRTING. AT ONE POINT THEY'RE SUPPOSED TO STOP FLIRTING AND IN THE END HE DECIDES HE DOESN'T WANT TO STOP FLIRTING. WHEN YOU LOOK AT IT, THE ENTIRE "STORY" IS BASICALLY SHOE-GAZING.

OKAY FINE. LET'S PRETEND THAT CONFLICT ISN'T THE BASIS OF DRAMA (IT TOTALLY IS THOUGH) AND FOR SOME REASON SONY WASN'T CRAZY ABOUT PUTTING "CONFLICT" IN THEIR MOVIE. AT LEAST THEY MADE THEIR SCENES LIKABLE AND STUFF. SO HOW DID THEY DO THAT? WHAT THE FUCK ARE THE AUDIENCES RESPONDING TO?

HULK NOT SURE, BUT THEY MUST LIKE WATCHING PRETTY PEOPLE FLIRT.

BECAUSE THAT'S ALL IT WAS. AS ITS OWN PLOTLINE, IT'S A MUMBLECORE MOVIE. AND HULK EVEN LIKES SOME MUMBLECORE MOVIES, BUT THAT'S BECAUSE THAT'S THE EXPECTATION AND THE SUBJECT BEING EXPLORED. THIS IS A GIANT BLOCKBUSTER FILM ABOUT A CHARACTER SEARCHING FOR HIS IDENTITY. AND THIS FILM SPENDS NEARLY HALF ITS RUNNING TIME BY HAVING ITS TWO MAIN CHARACTERS SHOE-GAZING. IS IT CHARMING ENOUGH? SURE. DOES IT FEEL LIKE A REAL, TEXTURED RELATIONSHIP? SURE. BUT IT SO LACKS FUNCTION AND IMPORT TO JUST ABOUT ANYTHING THAT HULK PRETTY MUCH AS NO IDEA WHY IT'S EVEN THERE. THERE IS NO PURPOSE TO ANY OF THEIR SCENES. ESPECIALLY CONSIDERING THAT THE WORDS ACTUALLY COMING OUT OF THEIR MOUTHS ARE MEISNER-LIKE GOBBLEDYGOOK.

NOW... IS ANY OF THIS THE LEAD ACTORS' FAULT?

NOPE. EMMA'S STONE IS ACTUALLY PRETTY  GREAT. SHE'S A CHARISMATIC, COMPELLING ACTRESS AND SHE SELLS THE GOBBLEDYGOOK WITH SWEET-NATURED ABANDON.

BUT THE STORY OF ANDREW GARFIELD IS MORE COMPLICATED. HE'S A GREAT ACTOR AND HULK LOVES HIM, BUT GOOD GRANOLA WAS EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS A TERRIBLE CHOICE. HULK WAS RECENTLY CHATTING WITH A FRIEND AND WE BOTH CAME TO THE EXACT SAME REALIZATION:

IMAGINE IF SPIDER-MAN WAS SUDDENLY PLAYED BY JAMES FRANCO'S CHARACTER FROM FREAKS AND GEEKS.

SERIOUSLY. THAT'S THE CHOICE THEY MADE FOR PETER PARKER. HE'S A SULLEN, OUT OF IT, CHARMING, MUMBLY TALKER DOING JAMES DEAN IMPERSONATION OR SOMETHING. AND ALL OF IT IS SO STUNNINGLY MISCALCULATED. HULK HAS NO IDEA WHY THEY CAST HIM OR MADE THIS CHOICE WITH THE CHARACTER. MAYBE THEY WANTED TO EXPLORE SOMETHING NEW? FINE. BUT IT DOESN'T WORK BECAUSE THEY DIDN'T WRITE HIM WITH THAT PERSONALITY. SERIOUSLY EVERY OTHER CHARACTER REACTS TO HIM LIKE HE'S SOME OTHER PERSON. LIKE HE'S FAR MORE LIKE TOBEY MAGUIRE'S VERSION OF PETER. THAT'S HOW SO MUCH OF IT IS WRITTEN ON THE PAGE. AND WHEN IT'S NOT WRITTEN LIKE CLASSIC PETER/SPIDER-MAN? IT'S WRITTEN AS SOME WHINY EMO SELF-CENTERED BULLSHIT (AND HULK DOES NOT USE THAT TERM LIGHTLY. HULK KNOWS EXACTLY WHAT THAT TERM MEANS). NONE OF IT MATCHES TOGETHER. HULK KNOWS THIS FILM WAS ABOUT THE SEARCH FOR IDENTITY AND SHIT, BUT THERE'S NO REAL ARC FOR THAT IDENTITY. IT'S JUST A HAPHAZARD DISPLAY OF ATTRIBUTES AND A FEW THINGS PROVIDING FODDER. AND WITH THESE INCONGRUITIES BETWEEN THE SCRIPT AND PERFORMANCE, ABSOLUTELY NO ONE SEEMS TO HAVE AN IDEA WHO THE PETER PARKER CHARACTER ACTUALLY IS AND WHAT HE SHOULD BE PORTRAYED LIKE.

AND IF WE WANT TO THINK ABOUT CLASSIC SPIDER-MAN AND EVERYTHING HE REPRESENTS, THE FILM JUST GETS IT ALL SO WRONG. LOOK. HULK SPENT AN ENTIRE CHILDHOOD READING SPIDER-MAN AND MARVEL COMICS AND UNDERSTANDING WHO THIS CHARACTER IS (AND NOW THAT HULK A HULK, HULK ACTUALLY KNOWS SPIDER-MAN. HE'S A FRIEND. AND HE REALLY GOOD AT VIDEO GAMES). SO LET'S MAKE SOMETHING CLEAR: HULK HAS NO IDEA WHO THIS SPIDER-MAN IS SUPPOSED TO BE. AND IT'S NOT SOME NEW INTERESTING TAKE ON THE CHARACTER. BECAUSE THAT WOULD IMPLY A COHESIVE TAKE ON THE CHARACTER. THERE IS NOTHING COHESIVE. NOTHING INTERESTING. HE'S AN ADOLESCENT DICK OBSESSED WITH HIS OWN PROBLEMS AND BELIEVE IT OR NOT HE ACTUALLY ENDS THE FILM AS AN ADOLESCENT DICK OBSESSED WITH HIS OWN PROBLEMS.

YUP. IT'S TRUE. THE ENDING UNCLE BEN VOICE-OVER LEADS US TO THINK HE'S COMING TO SOME UNDERSTANDING OF HIS IDENTITY AND PURPOSE, BUT THINK ABOUT WHAT HAPPENS AFTER... IN THE END HE'S GOING BACK ON A PROMISE MADE. TO PARAPHRASE: "PROMISES YOU CAN'T KEEP ARE THE BEST KIND OF PROMISES?" SERIOUSLY? THAT'S WHO THIS CHARACTER IS GOING TO BE? A GUY WHO HAS APPARENTLY LEARNED NOTHING? NO OFFENSE, BUT FUCK YOU WHOEVER WROTE THAT. FUCK YOU.

UGH. HULK JUST HAS TO KEEP RAMBLING ABOUT THIS FOR A FEW MORE PARAGRAPHS. SORRY. THIS TOTALLY THE LEAST PRODUCTIVE THING THAT HULK EVER TRIES TO EXPRESS, BUT PARKER'S ENTIRE DISPOSITION IN THIS FILM IS NOT JUST SOUL-CRUSHINGLY WRONG FOR THE HEART OF THE CHARACTER, NOT JUST SOUL-CRUSHINGLY WRONG FOR THE WORDS ON THE PAGE, IT'S ACTUALLY SOUL-CRUSHINGLY WRONG FOR THE BASICS OF STORY, CHARACTER PURPOSE AND DRAMA ITSELF. LIKE THE ROMANCE, THEY MADE PARKER JUST A TEXTURE THING. HE MUMBLES AND DOES JAMES DEAN AND NEVER EVEN REALLY SAYS ANYTHING. HE'S AN ALOOF DICK WHO DOESN'T PAY ATTENTION. AND HULK HATE TO BREAK IT TO YOU, BUT HULK KNOWS THE GUY WHO BEHAVES LIKE THAT IN CLASS. HERE'S A TIP. HE'S NOT SECOND IN HIS CLASS. OH AND PROOF HE'S A DICK? WELL, THERE WAS A FIVE SECOND MOMENT IN THE TRAILER THAT GOT EVERYONE EXCITED FOR A FILM WITH WISE-CRACKING SPIDEY WHEN HE'S IN THE BACK OF THE CAR AND SAYS "SERIOUSLY, YOU THINK I'M A COP?" WELL IN THE ACTUAL MOVIE THAT "WISE-CRACKING" GOES ON FOR LIKE 5 FUCKING MINUTES IN A BIZARRE CASE OF ADOLESCENT DICKTITUDE THAT MAKES NO SENSE WHATSOEVER. SERIOUSLY, IN THAT SCENE HE'S JUST A NOT-FUNNY, OUT OF CONTROL ASSHOLE. HULK COMPLAINED ABOUT THIS, AND SOMEONE ARGUED THAT THE ENTIRE POINT IS FOR HIM TO OVERCOME THESE PROBLEMS AND ATTITUDES, BUT GUESS THE FUCK WHAT? HE REALLY DOESN'T. HE JUST HAS SOME SCENES WHERE HE DOESN'T BEHAVE LIKE THAT SOMETIMES. WHEN DOES HE LEARN THAT BEING A DICK IS REALLY WRONG?

WHY IS THE CHARACTER LIKE THIS? HULK ACTUALLY BLAMES MASTURBATORY NONSENSE. THINK ABOUT HOW MANY SCENES HE COMES BACK TO THE HOUSE OR TO GWEN'S WINDOW AND PLAYS THE WOUNDED SOLDIER. THE WAY THE BRUISES JUST SHOW HOW SACRIFICING HE IS AS HE PAUSES AND WINCES FOR HIS GIRLFRIEND... HULK HATE TO BREAK IT TO YOU, BUT THIS IS A JUVENILE AS SHIT BEHAVIOR. IT'S THE KIND OF THING THAT ONLY SEEMS COOL TO THE ADOLESCENT MIND AND THE PEOPLE WHO WROTE IT SEEMED TO THINK IT WAS HEROIC OR SOMETHING. FUCK THAT. IT'S THE SAME WHINY, EMO BULLSHIT DISPOSITION HULK WAS TALKING ABOUT EARLIER.

REALLY HULK, THAT'S MASTURBATORY? YUP. THINK ABOUT IT. THEY WROTE A RELATIONSHIP WHERE THERE ACTUALLY AREN'T ANY PROBLEMS. THEY HAVE A CHARACTER WHO IS SMART, HANDSOME, POSTURIFICALLY JAMES DEAN-ING IT, AND YET THE WORLD TREATS HIM LIKE HE IS NONE OF THOSE THINGS. IT AVOIDS CONFLICT IN FAVOR OF BI-POLAR SELF-PITY OR SELF-AGGRANDIZING. AND IN THE END THEY CAN'T EVEN LET THEIR CHARACTER LEARN THINGS AND HE ENDS UP CONTINUING THE RELATIONSHIP ANYWAY (AND YES, HULK KNOWS WHERE THEY GOING WITH THAT BASED ON THE COMICS, BUT NO HULK DOESN'T THINK THAT MAGICALLY MAKES THIS SHITSTORM WORK). IT'S ALL INWARDLY FOCUSED, MASTURBATORY THINKING. THE VERSION OF SPIDER-MAN THEY CREATED IS NOTHING BUT A MASTURBATORY FANTASY.

SERIOUSLY, IF THIS PETER PARKER WERE A REAL DUDE HULK WOULD RATHER BE FRIENDS WITH FLASH... WHO APPARENTLY GOES FROM ASSHOLE BULLY TO SENSITIVE SOUL OFF-SCREEN OR SOMETHING. HULK GUESS THEY WERE TRYING TO MAKE SOME POINT ABOUT PEOPLE CHANGING OR NOT BEING ALL THAT BAD OR SOMETHING, BUT IT DOESN'T TRANSLATE BECAUSE THEY, YOU KNOW, DON'T SHOW WHY THE CHARACTER IS BEHAVING THIS WAY (BIG SURPRISE FOR THIS FILM HUH?). THE END RESULT IS A READING OF THE INTERACTION THAT SAYS THE FOLLOWING: EMBARRASS THE SHIT OUT OF A BULLY! THEY'LL LIKE YOU MORE ! (HULK WILL GET TO THIS BULLY SHIT IN A SECOND. JUST WAIT).

OKAY LET'S GET AWAY FROM PETER PARKER FIASCO AND LOOK AT CURT CONNERS. HE WAS ACTUALLY UNDERSTANDABLE FOR THE FIRST HALF OF THE FILM, BUT ONCE HE TURNS INTO THE LIZARD THINGS JUST STOP MAKING SENSE. EVIDENTLY HE KEEPS HIS MIND AND KNOWLEDGE, BUT THE LIZARD FORMULA APPARENTLY ALSO INFECTS YOU WITH THE ASSHOLE GENE? WHICH SUCKS, HULK GUESS. AND THEN HE WANTS TO TURN EVERYONE INTO LIZARDS OR SOMETHING? DEVIN ALREADY COVERED THIS GROUND WELL, BUT LET'S JUST AGREE IT'S NOT GOOD. THERE'S NOTHING BETTER THAN A VILLAIN WHOSE MOTIVES YOU UNDERSTAND AND HULK WAS EXCITED TO SEE HOW THEY WERE GOING TO EXPLORE HOW THIS NICE, MORAL BUT SINGULARLY FOCUSED GUY WAS GOING TO GO DOWN THE PATH OF DEALING WITH THE FACT HE WAS A LIZARD. HULK THOUGHT THEY WERE GOING TO EXPLORE HOW THIS MADE HIM REACT... NOPE! HE'S JUST BAD NOW. EXCEPT WHEN HE'S NOT AT THE END BECAUSE PEOPLE HAVE OFF-SCREEN FLASH-LIKE ANTI-BULLY CHANGES.

UGH... BEYOND MERE CHARACTERIZATION, THERE IS THE INESCAPABLE FACT THAT WITH MOST OF THE OKAY PARTS OF TASM WE HAVE SIMPLY DONE ALL THIS TOO MANY TIMES BEFORE. THE WEB-SLINGING. THE FIGHTS. THE ORIGIN SCENES. IT'S ALL BEYOND FAMILIAR. THERE'S NO THRILL. ONLY A FEW MOMENTS FEEL DISTINCT (LIKE THE WAY HE USES THE GIANT WEB AS A SONAR). BUT YOU HAVE TO SIT AROUND AND SAY, WAS THIS REALLY THE YEAR TO MAKE THIS FILM? HULK KNOWS THAT STUDIOS LOVE MONEY AND THEY WERE SO DAMN ANXIOUS TO GET THE PRODUCTION COSTS DOWN FROM THE CRAZY SWIRLS OF BEING INVOLVED WITH ALL THOSE OTHER PEOPLE BEFORE, BUT DAMN THIS WAS NOT THE WAY TO DO IT.

THE ENTIRE POINT OF TASM WAS TO EXPLORE IDENTITY, BUT WITH THE CREDITS STINGER THEY SO FUCK UP THAT VERY IDEA. THE ENTIRE DAMN POINT OF THE MOVIE IS APPARENTLY THAT THOSE QUESTIONS OF ORIGINS DON'T MATTER AND HE WENT OFF TO MAKE HIS REAL IDENTITY, BUT GUESS WHAT? THE CREDITS STINGER SAYS NOPE. IT SAYS "THAT ORIGINAL QUESTION WE PROPOSED AT THE BEGINNING OF THE MOVIE AND IMPLIED IT WOULD BE WHAT THIS FILM WAS ABOUT? YEAH! THAT'S TOTALLY STILL A QUESTION AND WE'RE NOT GONNA RESOLVE IT! OOH THE MYSTERY!" DUN DUN DUNNNNNN OR SOMETHING... UGH... HULK JUST... HULK JUST DOESN'T EVEN. AND IF YOU KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT THE DIRECTION THEY WERE GOING WITH THE MOVIE (WHICH ALL GOT CUT OUT) THE REASON PETER'S JOURNEY TO IDENTITY DOESN'T MAKE SENSE IS BECAUSE ORIGINALLY THEY WERE GOING TO EXPLORE SOME FATALISTIC NONSENSE ABOUT HOW PETER WAS DESIGNED TO BE SPIDER-MAN BY HIS PARENTS OR SOMETHING. HULK GUESS THEY'RE STILL GOING TO GO IN THAT DIRECTION WITH SEQUELS, BUT IT COMPLETELY UNDERMINES JUST ABOUT EVERYTHING THAT MOVIE WAS TRYING TO SAY AT THE END AND EVERYTHING WE HOLD DEAR ABOUT THE CHARACTER... GREAT STINGER DECISION GUYS!

OH AND HULK'S NOT A BIG "MOVIE LOGIC" GUY OR ANYTHING, BUT WHEN THE FUCK WERE HIGH SCHOOLERS ALLOWED TO DO TOP FLIGHT SCIENCE FOR THE MOST IMPORTANT SCIENTIFIC COMPANY IN THE WORLD? WHERE THEY PUT A SENIOR IN CHARGE OF OTHER HIGH SCHOOL SENIORS? AND APPARENTLY SHE CAN DO ANTIDOTES AND THAT'S SOMETHING SHE'S ENTRUSTED WITH ALL THE TIME? WHY IS THIS GIRL EVEN GOING TO HIGH SCHOOL ANYMORE IF SHE CAN DO ALL THIS? AND WHERE THE FUCK DID PARKER GET THAT MONEY TO BUY THOSE CRAZY EXPENSIVE WEB SHOOTER MATERIALS? THE WEBSHOOTER IS NOT BOTHERSOME OR ANYTHING, BUT IT'S THE KIND OF THING THAT FEELS LIKE A CHANGE FOR CHANGES SAKE. OH AND WHEN THE FUCK DID EVERYONE START LOVING AND SUPPORTING SPIDER-MAN? HOW DID HE BECOME "CRANE WORTHY" SO TO SPEAK? AND WHY DID THOSE CRANES MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN HIS BEING ABLE TO GET TO THE TOWER AGAIN? CAN'T HE GO BACK AND FORTH BETWEEN BUILDINGS, LIKE HE ALWAYS DOES? WHAT DOES AUNT MAY THINK HE'S DOING AT NIGHT, GETTING ALL THOSE BRUISES? THEY KEPT MAKING IT SEEM LIKE HE WAS ABOUT TO ADMIT THAT HE'S SPIDEY, BUT IT NEVER HAPPENED. OH AND WHY DOES AUNT MAY HAVE LIKE NOTHING TO DO IN THIS MOVIE? AND WHY HAVE A CREDIT STINGER THAT UN-RESOLVES THINGS WITHOUT ACTUALLY DOING ANYTHING INTERESTING AND ACTUALLY TAKES AWAY THE ENTIRE FUCKING POINT OF YOUR MOVIE? OH THEN THERE'S THAT HILARIOUS MOMENT WHERE HE FALLS THROUGH THE CRACKS AND SEES THE SPIDER-MAN MASK.

HOW DOES IT GO SO WRONG? THE POSSIBILITIES ARE ENDLESS. HULK DOESN'T KNOW WHO TO BLAME, BUT AT EVERY STEP OF THE WAY IT SEEMS THE WRONG CHOICE. FIRING RAIMI. DEVELOPING THE FILM BEFORE IT WAS READY. ORIGINALLY REBOOTING THINKING OF IT IN LINE WITH THE TWILIGHT SERIES. REALIZING THAT'S A HORRIBLE IDEA. HIRING WEBB ANYWAY... IT'S WORTH NOTING THERE'S ACTUALLY NICE SKATEBOARDING SCENE THAT FEELS LIKE THE ONLY NEW THING WE'VE SEEN IN THE MOVIE. THE ONLY TIME WHERE A MARC WEBB SPIDER-MAN MOVIE ACTUALLY FEELS LIKE A GOOD FIT. BUT MOST OF THE NEW THINGS FEATURE A BAD SCRIPT AND A STUNNING MISUNDERSTANDING OF CHARACTER.

AND THERE'S ONE OTHER ISSUE HULK WANTED TO DISCUSS. HULK WAS TALKING WITH VERY SMART SOMEONE WHO UNDERSTANDS MORE THINGS ABOUT MOVIES THAN JUST ABOUT ANYONE. AND WE STARTED TALKING ABOUT TASM AND THE MULTITUDE OF PROBLEMS AND HE ARTICULATED SOMETHING WONDERFUL: THE ABSURD, BI-POLAR WAY THEY GO TELLING PETER PARKER'S STORY ENDS UP REVEALING SOMETHING AWFUL: PETER PARKER SPENDS 99% OF THE FILM BEING A BULLY. EVEN BEFORE HIS TRANSFORMATION, HE CONFRONTS FLASH. HE THEN HUMILIATES FLASH AND GETS CHEWED OUT BY UNCLE BEN FOR IT, BUT DOESN'T TAKE THAT TO HEART WHATSOEVER BECAUSE HE THEN GOES ON HIS ASSHOLE SPIDER-MAN STREAK. HE'S JUST ALWAYS FIGHTING AND GOING DOWN THE PATH OF REVENGE. THERE IS SOME IMPLICATION AT THE END THAT HE LEARNS THAT THIS IS NOT THE RIGHT PATH, BUT HULK JUST CAN'T GET AWAY FROM THAT ENDING WHERE HE SAYS HE'S NOT KEEPING HIS PROMISE... IT JUST SAYS SO MUCH ABOUT HIM NOT MOVING FORWARD AND NOT BEING MATURE. HE STARTS THE FILM PRETTY SELF-OBSESSED AND THEN HE ENDS THE FILM SELF-OBSESSED. EVEN THE FILM'S PRE-OCCUPATION WITH HIS DESTINY MYTHOLOGY COMES BACK FOR THE ENDING KICKER IN THE CREDITS AND HAMMERS HOME THE LACK OF CHANGE. TAKE OUT THE FEW ATONAL MOMENTS OF HEROISM, AND IT SEEMS LIKE SPIDER-MAN SPENDS THE ENTIRE FILM BEING A SELF-CENTERED BULLY. WHICH MEANS EVEN WITH THEIR OWN IDENTITY ARC, THEY STILL MESS UP THE CORE OF HIS IDENTITY.

WHY DOES THIS MATTER SO FREAKING MUCH?

AT THE END OF THE FILM IT POSITS THE FAMOUS SAYING THAT THERE ARE ONLY TEN CORE STORIES IN ALL OF HISTORY (BY THE WAY, THAT NUMBER CAN FLUCTUATE BETWEEN TWO AND FOURTEEN DEPENDING ON THE TELLER). BUT THE TEACHER INSISTS THE ONLY QUESTION IN ALL OF STORYTELLING IS "WHO AM I?"

IT IS AN ASTOUNDING MOMENT FOR HULK BECAUSE WHILE IT SHOWS THEY WERE REALLY TRYING TO HAMMER HOME THIS POINT ABOUT HOW THE FILM WAS ABOUT THE SEARCH FOR IDENTITY, IT STILL PROVES HOW MUCH THEY IGNORE THAT MOST BASIC REALITY OF WHAT THIS WHOLE "SPIDER-MAN CHARACTER" IS ACTUALLY ABOUT. IN TERMS OF "FINDING IDENTITY" THEY JUST MADE THE QUESTION LITERAL AND EXPLORED IT IN CLUNKY MYSTERY (THAT WAS MOSTLY CUT) AND PERHAPS THAT'S BECAUSE THEY DON'T UNDERSTAND WHAT THAT QUESTION EVEN FUCKING MEANS.

UGH... YOU HAVE TO UNDERSTAND THAT HULK WASN'T LOOKING TO PICK ON THIS MOVIE. HULK REALLY WANTED TO LIKE THIS MOVIE. HULK WANTED THE DIRECTOR TO HAVE A CHANCE. HULK HATES THE CREEPING IMPLICATION THAT A ROMANTIC COMEDY DIRECTOR CAN'T DO A BIG SUMMER TENT POLE. WHY NOT? MORE PEOPLE OUTSIDE THE WHEELHOUSE DESERVE SHOTS AT THIS KIND OF STUFF. BUT IT TURNS OUT THAT TASM HAS THE SAME PROBLEMS AS 500 DAYS OF SUMMER. BOTH FILMS PUT NICE PRETTY SHEEN OVER A SCRIPT THAT KIND OF SAYS SOME AWFUL, NONSENSICAL THINGS. BUT THIS ONE JUST MADE HULK SMASHY. HULK OBVIOUSLY ADORES MARVEL WITH EVERY FIBER OF HULK'S BEING AND SPIDER-MAN HAS FELT LIKE ONE OF HULK'S "BEST FRIENDS" FOR HULK'S ENTIRE LIFE... AND THIS MOVIE WASN'T ABOUT ANY SPIDER-MAN THAT MAKES SENSE.

BUT THE THING THAT IS MAKING HULK THE MOST SICK IN ALL THE TALK OVER TASM IS THE REVISIONIST HISTORY ON SAM RAIMI'S SPIDER-MAN FILMS. SURE, RAIMI HAD A CAMPY STREAK, BUT THAT'S WHAT MADE HIM A JOY. THAT'S WHY WE LOVE RAIMI. AND DEVIN'S COLUMN ON THE DANCING SCENES IN THE THIRD FILM IS SPOT ON. THE FILM IS MESS, BUT IF YOU EVEN READ TWO THINGS ABOUT THE MAKING OF THAT FILM, YOU'D UNDERSTAND HOW MUCH WAS FORCED ON HIM AND HOW IT WAS ALMOST DOOMED BEFORE IT BEGAN. ULTIMATELY IT JUST HAS TONE ISSUES AND CAN'T FIND THE TIME TO ORGANICALLY CONSTRUCT THE SCENES IT NEEDS . BUT AT LEAST IT UNDERSTAND SCENE PURPOSE AND CHARACTER UNDERSTANDING. BUT MORE IMPORTANTLY THE FIRST SPIDER-MAN FILM IS JUST AS WONDERFUL AND JUST AS LACKING IN CYNICISM AS WHEN IT FIRST BURST ONTO THE SCENE. HIS ORIGIN STORY IS TOLD BEAUTIFULLY IN THAT FILM. AND AS WE RETREAD THE SAME SCENES IN TASM ALL HULK COULD THINK ABOUT WAS HOW WELL RAIMI DID THEM THE FIRST TIME A MERE TEN YEARS AGO. AND LEST WE SUDDENLY FORGET, SPIDER-MAN 2 IS A PERFECT COMIC BOOK MOVIE. AT EVERY SECOND HE'S A GUY TRYING TO DO GOOD AND BALANCE HIS LIFE. IT ASKS REAL QUESTIONS OF SACRIFICE AND DOESN'T POSTURE SACRIFICE IN THE FORM OF BROODING BRUISES. THERE'S A JOURNEY. IT'S WELL-ACTED. IT'S DRAMATIC. ACTIONS HAVE IMMEDIATE CONSEQUENCES. SCENES HAVE PURPOSE AND LEAD INTO THE NEXT SCENES AND MOVE THE JOURNEY FORWARD. AND CHARACTER MOTIVATIONS MAKE PERFECT SENSE.

WHICH MAKES HULK COME TO ONE SIMPLE REALIZATION: RAIMI'S FIRST TWO MOVIES WERE WHAT MARTIN SHEEN WAS IN THIS FILM.

LEST WE FORGET.

<3 HULK

ENDNOTE:

(1) HECK, THE BIGGEST FILM OF ALL TIME, AVATAR, IS ALMOST CYNICAL IN ITS PAINT BY NUMBERS APPLICATION OF STORY, CHARACTER AND OBVIOUS THEME. AND THE MOST CYNICAL TRUTH IS THAT THE FILM SUCCEEDS WILDLY BECAUSE OF THIS CLEAR APPROACH. THERE'S A REASON IT TRANSLATES TO EVERYONE. SURE, IT'S ONE OF THE MOST ROTE AND EYE-ROLLING THING EVER. BUT THERE ISN'T A FALSE BEAT IN THE FILM'S STORY. SO IT SUCCEEDS... AND FOR THE RECORD. HULK TALKING ABOUT TRADITIONAL STORIES HERE. HULK ADORES SOME OF THE MOST EXPLORATIONAL ART FILMS. HULK BELIEVES THE PINNACLES OF CINEMA REST ON THE SHOULDERS OF PEOPLE LIKE KUBRICK, BERGMAN, TARKOVSKY, KUROSAWA, ANTONIONI, SCORSESE, VARDA AND BRELLIAT. BUT THIS IS NOT THAT KIND OF MOVIE. AND THIS KIND OF MOVIE WORKS BEST WHEN ADHERING TO THE KIND OF UNDERSTANDING OF STORY THAT HAS BEEN IN PLACE SINCE THE ANCIENT GREEKS.

Film Crit Hulk's photo About the Author: FILM CRIT HULK WAS CREATED IN A CHAOTIC LAB EXPERIMENT INVOLVING GAMMA RADIATION, TELEPODS, AND THE GHOST OF PAULINE KAEL. NOW HULK HAVE DEEP AND ABIDING LOVE CINEMA.
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