Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Amazing Spider-Man

There seems to be a very, very deep split on this film. Some critics I respect have really enjoyed it, some have decidedly, not. The issue, really seems to come down to the undeniable fact that Sony Pictures is "rebooting" their Spider-Man cash-cow franchise a mere 5 years after the last Sam Raimi-directed, Tobey Maguire-staring film (the pretty abysmal Spider-Man 3), and only 10 years after their first film.

Here's the way I look at it: They didn't really need to tell the origin story again (another Spidey-tale, with a new actor, would've flew fine), but they did a pretty good job of doing it. Better than Raimi and his team, in some cases. Not all, but some.

I really, really like Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker/Spider-Man. He still embodies the nerdy, hurt child, but also has a sense of aggression. It also helps that they allow Spidey to talk more, with his trademark quips and bad jokes. In terms of the sequel(s), I hope the production team goes even farther with that element. It's part of what makes the character really snap, and sets him apart from other long-underwear characters. Maguire (who I loved, I am a HUGE fan of the first two Raimi films), God bless him, tended to always make Peter look like he was on the verge of tears. The character is pretty proactive and aggressive about what he does. I just felt like Garfield got to that point, granted, the story helps him.

The other great performance here is Emma Stone as a truly radiant Gwen Stacy. I've always been a Gwen Stacy fan, Mary Jane Watson, despite the fact that Peter eventually married her, was always a rebound girl from Gwen. Gwen is, was, and always shall be Peter Parker's first true love, and the way that storyline plays out is hugely important to his development as a character. Stone and Garfield are tremendous together, and that relationship benefits the most from having Marc Webb (500 Days of Summer) in the director's chair. His sense of relationships is strong, and has to be a huge part of why Sony attached him to the project.

The rest of the cast are all quite good, Ryhs Ifans is striking and very good as Dr. Curt Connors/The Lizard. Hitting the right notes of a good man who gets himself in over his head. The only sad part here is that Dylan Baker never got to fully flesh out the character he played in two of Raimi's films.

I really, really loved Sally field and Martin Sheen as Aunt May and Uncle Ben. Something about how they were handled in this film worked so much more for me than what Cliff Robertson and Rosemary Harris did in Raimi's film. They're all wonderful actors, but what Webb and team pull off with these characters worked much more on me, emotionally.

Yes, the ultimate event that causes Peter to be come Spider-Man has changed, as it did in Raimi's film. This film, however, it seemed very immediate and powerful, whereas, if my memory serves, the actual event happened off-screen in the 2002 version. The one gripe I have here is that you can't be scared of the line "with great power comes great responsibility," you can't finesse it, and you can't avoid it. There's a, well-played, I admit, but painfully over-written scene were Ben talks and talks about this concept. Yet he never just says the line. It's a mistake that keeps the scene from working fully.

The Amazing Spider-Man is not a bad movie, and anybody who tried to tell you that is overstating things. It works. Is it too soon after Raimi? Maybe. I do encourage you to check it out for yourself.

At the end of the day, for myself, personally, I have to agree that there was no need to re-tell the origin story. There is an element where you're just waiting for the events to fall into place, again. Still, as with every time a comic-book is written re-telling that story (which happens a LOT), the way it's told trumps everything else. This is a well-told version of Spidey's origin. It's exciting, funny, well acted and directed. It's ludicrous to think that serialized characters like this are not going to be told, and re-told, and re-told again. It's the nature of the characters. Every generation gets their own version.

That said, guys? Next time, just skip re-telling the origin.

1 comment:

  1. I really enjoyed this one! Is it an improvement? It's a different movie. It's a different director. It's different actors with the same iconic hero. I actually felt myself more emotionally involved with this one when it came to the Uncle Ben, Captain Stacy, Gwen and Aunt May characters. Maybe it was because I was watching the movie with my wide-eyed 8 year old son. Who was quizzical,sad and scared at all the right parts. I don't want to compare this to the Raimi/Tobey McGuire movies. But, this one took it up a notch.