The Cynical Optimist : 14/1/10


“With great power comes great responsibility.”

I’m currently drowning myself in 16 ounces of Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee complete with two packets of Stevia Extract In The Raw. I’ve also stirred in some fresh, organic half & half I picked up at the local market this morning.

That’s right kids, for this column I’ll be pulling a page out of Clint’s caffeinated playbook to talk about Sony’s premature resurrection of the “Spider-Man” franchise, Fox’s “A-Team” trailer and your typical slew of cynical rants and raves.

Sam Raimi’s “Spider-Man” was released on May 3, 2002. It was my senior year of high school, and I was preparing to graduate in a little over a month. Me and some friends had decided to skip school and drive to the next city over to see “Spider-Man” on opening day on the big screen while the rest of our friends sat and suffered through Advanced Placement English Lit.

Not since seeing Tim Burton’s 1989 film, “Batman,” had I been swept up in the kind of anticipation and excitement of seeing one of my childhood heroes swing his away onto the screen. The film was a monumental success, raking in over $400 million domestically for a total of $821 million worldwide.

It’s sequel, which I maintain is one of the best superhero movies ever, produced an equally impressive worldwide gross of $783 million. OK, so “Spider-Man 3” sucked. Honestly, in the long line of cinematic comic book blunders, “Spider-Man 3” takes a seat beside 1997’s “Batman and Robin” and half-hearted films like “Ghost Rider” and “Superman IV: A Quest For Peace.”

“Spider-Man 3” pissed me off. Let me get this straight, the fuckin’ guy who killed Uncle Ben in the first film, didn’t actually kill him? He had a partner who killed him – so Peter’s vengeance was wasted on someone who didn’t actually do the deed?

Spider-Man 2 wrapped everything up in nice pretty red-and-blue bow, and here comes “Spider-Man 3” to rip the package open, destroying every bit of wrapping paper into an indiscernible ball of recycled garbage. They purposely looked for ways to destroy Peter’s relationships with others and then there’s the whole ridiculous amnesia character-turn for James Franco’s Harry Osborne.

And then there’s Venom… Jesus Christ, Eric Foreman is playing Spider-man’s most vicious and sadistic villain. What the fuck were they thinking? With that being said, I think most people would agree that the Spider-Man franchise was obliterated after the “Emo Parker” dance sequences and countless scenes of our heroes huddled around crying like school girls.

There’s a part of me that fully agrees with the concept of rebooting the Spider-Man franchise, but then I look at the facts. We’re talking about a trilogy of films from 2002 to 2007.

Now, I realize Ang Lee’s 2003 disasterpiece, “Hulk,” got it’s own remake of sorts with 2008’s superior “The Incredible Hulk,” but this is something different. We’re three films with their own established continuity and extensive cast of characters… and you’re simply going to reboot the franchise?

Well, you’ve used up most of Spidey’s most iconic villains so… does this mean we’ll get to sit through the same villains and action sequences again? Will we have to witness the origin story yet again? Has anyone really thought this through, or are they too busy dreaming of the yachts and summer houses they’ll buy with the profits from another blockbuster Spider-Man flick?

You want my prediction? I think Sony is planning to target this new Spider-Man series to the Twilight generation – the crucial demographic of pre-teens and teenagers who grew up with Raimi’s “Spider-Man.” Sony has made it clear that Peter Parker will be going back to high school in his next cinematic outing… and I have to wonder if that’s more than a statement about the setting.

I have a feeling the cast will be comprised with familiar faces from “High School Musical” and Disney’s never-ending cavalcade of child stars destined to get pregnant out of wedlock and become drug addicts. Just for fun, let’s play the guessing game on the cast:

Peter Parker: Zac Efron

Mary Jane Watson: Miley Cyrus (or Hannah Montana, I’m not picky)

Harry Osborne: Nick Jonas

Gwen Stacey: Taylor Swift

Let’s go further. How about some villains? Well being as vampires and werewolves are all the craze right now, why not get Robert Pattison in talks to play Morbius? That should rake in plenty of cash to make the plot of this film completely disposable. While we’re at it – Taylor Lautner could step into the shoes of Man-Wolf!

Kill me now, seriously. I actually like Zac Efron, I think the kid’s charming and he’s got tons of potential.  To me, he’d be a great Peter Parker and Spider-Man – but this film hinges on the screenplay and the director behind it.

At this point, I might say let’s give “Spider-Man: High School Heroics” to someone like Marc Webb, director of “500 Days of Summer.” Look, this guy blew my friggin’ socks off with his first feature film, and I’d love to see what he can do with it.

Also, why not get Sam Worthington to play Venom. Can you imagine Sam Worthington and Zac Efron on screen together? The sheet size of Worthington would be intimidating… not to mention Worthington is a complete badass who could pull off the sadistic, brutal side of Venom to life.

The part that bothers me the most about this whole reboot thing is the idea that this “Spider-Man” will be a “gritty, contemporary” take on the story. When has the word “gritty” ever applied to Spider-Man? This dark, gritty spin has never been the appeal of the character! Sure, Spidey’s been through some dark times but he’s never been the brooding anti-hero who talks like he’s gargling shattered glass…

“I love it when a plan comes together…”

While I’m still enjoying this hot, fresh-brewed maelstrom of sugar, cream and coffee beans, I’d like to comment on the recent teaser trailer for Joe Carnahan’s big-screen remake of the 1980s television series, “The A-Team.”

You may recall, a while back I did a script review on “The A-Team” and pretty much tore it to pieces. My review was subsequentely removed (Thanks FOX!) and while not too much of the plot can be discerned from this trailer, it doesn’t look that terrible!

“The A-Team” actually looks like lots of over-the-top fun with plenty of big explosions and unfeasible action sequences. Also, I want to give it up for Sharlto Copley, who plays Capt. ‘Howling Mad’ Murdock. After seeing his performance in “District 9,” I think Copley is going to be one of those guys you cheer for and want to see get the credit he deserves.

“Best Buy my ass…”

Finally, let’s go out with a bang. Today two of 2009’s best films were released on DVD and Blu Ray. I went to my local Best Buy to pick up “The Hurt Locker” and “Moon” on Blu Ray only to be greeted with a stiff kick to the groin in the realization that they were “completely sold out” of these items.

By “completely sold out,” Best Buy means they only had five copies of each Blu Ray to begin with. Let me ask a question – what’s the fucking point of going to a store if they don’t have what you want? Honestly, every time I go to Target or Best Buy they’re stock is so pathetic, you’d have better luck finding what you’re looking for at a flea market.

And while we’re on the subject, since when did Best Buy have the fuckin’ best buy on anything? The only place most expensive in terms of DVDs and Blu Rays are Barnes & Noble and Borders.

Sweet Jesus, why would I pay for $30 for a Blu Ray of “Moon” that you don’t have when I can get it for $24 (with free shipping, might I add) on Amazon?