Saturday, June 2, 2012

Marvel Media Mania: Amazing Spider-Man Pilot (1977)

The Amazing Spider-Man was a made-for-television movie starring Nicholas Hammond as Peter Parker that was released in 1977 on CBS. It acted as the pilot episode for the television series that followed in 1978.
File:Poster of The Amazing Spider-Man.jpg
Amazing Spider-Man TV pilot 
The poster for this film claims that this is the first time Spider-Man is done in a live version. Technically, this isn't true - the Electric Company shorts came before this film. Still, this is the first serious attempt at a live-action film. 

For the time, I think the effects are great. Spider-Man climbs up walls and jumps onto ceilings in a manner that was fabulous for the day. Sure, today watching this you can say, "Oh, that's just wire work," and, "He doesn't even appear to be putting any weight on his legs!" but to see Spider-Man spinning around on a wall and kicking crooks is good enough for me. The camera angles used really sell the shots. Often, as the viewer, we are given a street-level shot up. Since all of the stunts were done on real buildings this really gives a terrific effect. The other shot frequently used is a dizzying Spider-Man POV shot as he's climbing. You see Spidey's hands move on the wall and when he looks down you realize how far down it really is! This lends a sense of authenticity to the climbing sequences.

The origin is left unchanged for the most part. Except of being in high school he's a graduate student in college. That was also what Parker was doing in the comics at that same time. The radiation was specifically named as radioactive waste, perhaps playing on fears of nuclear energy and nuclear bombs at the time.

The plot itself is oddly unfriendly to kids. The villain of the film is a cult-leader who brainwashes his subjects and is demanding payment from the city lest he have all of his followers commit suicide. He tests his power by having his followers, all respected community members, rob banks and armored cars. When they're captured the money is gone and they have no memory of what they've done. Kinda creepy for a show that suppose to be kid friendly. Also not the supervillain fare that many Spidey fans wanted! Also, it oddly mirrors the real-life events with Jim Jones's cult in Jonestown that happened the following year.

While this movie won't disappoint true Spider-Man fans, I could see how someone not so taken by the character wouldn't find much value in it.

1LR REVIEW - 13 out of 20 - It's a Glancing Hit!

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