The problem with fantasy: A lack of imagination?

I have been told I can’t give a fair review of a film because I’m too picky. I don’t just look at the basic elements of what makes up a good film, but the tiny parts which some people will look over and think highly of a film anyway;  elements which add to specific scenes in small ways. For example: the way someone walks. Would they realistically walk at that speed, that cautiously, etc, in that situation? Yes, picky. I told you.

Last night I went to see The Amazing Spiderman (2D, for those of you that still need telling that 3D is an awful idea aimed at emptying our purses in return for a headache). The film opened with Peter Parker as a small child playing hide and seek. Imagine any child doing this. Unless they have been playing the game for some hours and are thoroughly bored they will most likely jump up and run to find their friends/parents/abductors (delete as appropriate depending on film) as quickly as they can. Peter Parker 1.0 did not react in this way, but cautiously started walking around the house in a way a soon-to-be-dead victim would look for a hidden intruder, while on some mild tranquiliser.

There are numerous other tiny examples of things not being quite right in this film, which overall don’t affect the storyline in any way but are annoying nonetheless. I could call this type of criticism an unfair expectation of reality, but many of the annoyances often come from an inability to find something believable, despite the fantasy genre. To me, it doesn’t matter that a normal human being is swinging through New York in a homemade suit, outdoing the police. As an audience we have to believe that for the film to work at all, but it is once again the smaller aspects of scenes that appear unbelievable that spoil it. For fantasy films, I think we are expected to believe too much, and this allows filmmakers to overlook errors by assuming our imaginations will connect errors with fantasy and therefore let things go which truly don’t make sense, regardless of the level of reality it is based on. For instance: Peter Parker’s ability to make a superhero costume in his bedroom to such a good quality that it works as well as custom made athletic wear. Peter Parker may be a superhero, but he is still a 17 year old school boy who is unlikely to have a working knowledge of textile design and therefore should have taken the Batman route and ordered his suit from a far off country, not that his allowance would have allowed for that.

One of the other stand-out parts of the film that didn’t work was Stan Lee’s cameo. His desire to appear in the film gave way to creating a scene that made any sense. It appeared badly cut and didn’t flow with the scene immediately prior to it, instead telling us: ‘Stop watching Spiderman for a second. Appreciate Stan Lee’s appearance. Okay? Right, back to Spiderman.’ Or possibly it was to distract us from the giant lizard that morphed from a human with all the physical traits except the mouth. A giant, ferocious lizard with a smile like one of the Tweenies should never have been taken seriously as a threat to society.

On the other hand, I will give praise where it is due. If someone told me Rhys Ifans had committed to the role so seriously that he had an arm surgically removed, I’d have believed it. Of course though, that’s not all. I am picky about small things but I don’t let it ruin films. The Amazing Spiderman is well worth seeing and was entertaining throughout. This isn’t a review but more of a statement of the expectations placed on audiences. I have my pen and paper ready for The Dark Knight Rises. Let’s just hope Batman hasn’t decided to take up home crafts since the last film.


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