Tuesday, July 24, 2012


In the wake of the Dark Knight Rises release has prompted me to admit that once again I've fallen behind in my posts, so here we go with my 2nd retro review, Marc Webb's series reboot, The Amazing Spider-Man. This film met with some harsh resistance in the wake of Sam Raimi's original trilogy which starred Tobey Maguire simply due to it's proximity to the last films. In all honesty, we didn't need a Spider-man reboot, but Sony did, and considering the franchise is probably Sony's biggest cash-cow, artistic integrity probably didn't factor into rebooting the series at all. Batman Begins, on the other hand, probably did.

This is a 'gritty' reboot, and in some ways more in touch with the source comics, although more in line with the Ultimate series of Spider-man. No matter. For me, anything that wasn't the originals is good in my books. I retain a nostalgic soft spot for at least the first two X-Men films. Spider-man, not so much. Not even Willem Dafoe's terrifying visage could save that film.

But instead of ripping on Maguire, the padded costume, horrible dialogue, and what strikes me as Raimi's inability to produce quality, let's focus on the good and shitty about the new film.

From my understanding, Garfield did the majority of
his own stunts.
It's first problem out of the gate is that it is rebooting a story that we already know. If you notice, they shorten, condense, and shine the light in different areas to tell the same story. Orphan-Peter, spider-bite, uncle Ben; all these events play out as expected, with little deviation, other than to hasten the process. They focus more on Peter being an orphan, and how that effects him growing up, as well as the struggles every teenager has with the adults of their lives. 

Now is as good a time as any to espouse Andrew Garfield as an actor. He does a fantastic job. He captures that on-edge feel that most of us have when we're deep into our teenage years, where everything is just a little heightened and tense emotionally. As someone who, within the last year, lost a father figure to pancreatic cancer, I related very much to his journey and his performance. 

It was also refreshing that Peter Parker was established as an outsider ... not a dweeb. This is the age of the nerd, as I talked about in my Avengers review, and he had to still reflect that outsider status that most if not all teenagers feel. I can actually point at Peter Parker now and go, "That. That is what I was like in High School....actually I think I own that jacket."

Seriously, the flirty scene with Gwen, I think I once had, just in my case the girl did not reciprocate, so there is that. 

Yeah, that scene ...
And lastly, what was seriously lacking in the other films was Parker's trademark wittiscm. I mean, half the reason his villains hated him so much in the comics is that he would beat them up and make fun of them. He really comes across, in this film, as an internet troll. Peter Parker gains the power of anonymity via the suit, and it shows. 

Ifans did in fact do all his own stunts while wearing
a ridiculous Lizard motion capture suit.
I can't say I was wowed by the Lizard, although I thought that Rhys Ifans did a fantastic job, the character seems a bit of a rehash of other villains, especially Doc Ock's "I'm going to better mankind," nuttiness. But it was done sincerely, which from Spider-man, is all I ask. The effects were fantastic.

Also, not bothered by the removal of the Lizard's snout. I preferred retaining a vestige of Ifans' face in the performance. Twas good.

Emma Stone was enjoyable, although I find myself hard pressed to find much more to say. She ... kinda played a similar character to the one she always does. Some might call her distinct, but well, I just kinda see her. Perchance this is a personal problem. The character worked in the context of the film, so that's all that matters. She's still inherently charming, with quite the girl-next-door vibe. More so than Kirsten Dunst did, at least in my opinion.

There are minor nitpicks I have overall, but I'll save them for my Brand New SPOILER SECTION!

But before I get to that, I wanna comment on how cool the suit looked. It had the look of something made at home, it was slim, and awesome. I loved it. I also loved that they took the middle ground with the web-shooters. It's such a classic bit of Spidey-lore that the Raimi films ... understandably opted out of. Well, Marc Webb, of (500) Days of Summer infamy, found a delightful middle ground. Parker didn't invent the technology, just modified it to his needs. It gives him the wiz-kid cred without making him Tony Stark.

Sally Field and Martin Sheen did a splendid job as Aunt May and Uncle Ben respectively, this film again playing the orphan-family dynamic more than the others, and impressing me with the weight placed on Aunt May after Uncle Ben's death. Also, I enjoyed Parker's vendetta in looking for the guy who did it. It gives his early period as Spider-man a less than altruistic angle, which works for an angry, hurt teenager.

Garfield worked to incorporate Spider-man's style of movements even when not in the suit.

Some, not a lot, but I do have to say that near the ending, the cheese factor got laid on Chicago Deepdish style and it was unbearable. In Raimi's film, we have Spider-man dangling from a web holding onto a cable to a tram-car with a bunch of kids in it, with Mary Jane. Goblin comes swinging around on his glider to finish our trapped hero once and for all. Then New Yorkers start barraging the Goblin with garbage, wrenches, and random debris. From what I recall, this is stereotypical New Yorker behavior anyways.

In Marc Webb's, Spider-man is shot in the leg, and half-a-dozen crane operators all the way to OsCorpe tower happen to be ignoring the evacuation warning so that they can reposition the cranes so that Spider-man can get his injured pussy-ass to the final fight.

For me, it was too big. It was too ... staged. It felt like the screen-writer was like, "Okay, we need something big and inspirational," and slapped this scene on us. Just too much for me, I was drowning in cheese.

Now the scene that immediately preceded it, was gold, where Parker get's tazed while swinging and then downs a group of cops before facing off with his girlfriend's father, Denis Leary--I mean, Captain Stacy. Now that scene worked. If anything, I thought Captain Stacy letting Spider-man go was enough of a small, inspirational moment for the character. Oh well.

Also, the Lizard's redemption moment was tacky as well. Oh look you're just saved the kid who can stick to f***ing walls that you've been trying to kill for half the film. Also, the bit with his learning Parker's identity was 'meh' in my mind. Although, the school fight was very well done, and Stan Lee's cameo did garner a laugh from me.


Anyone else thinking of the damage the moon
would do were it that close?
So, overall, was the film amazing? No. But it was damn good, and might more internally consistent than say Prometheus was, in my mind. There were just little moments that made me honestly shake my head. They had to pander to an audience that already knew the story and felt like they were hitting their marks with -- I dunno. The film ultimately suffered by just being so close to the others, even if it was infinitely improved. I think the film will improve with age, if anything.

No comments:

Post a Comment