Monday, July 2, 2012

The Amazing Spider-Man - Movie Review

The Amazing Spider-Man
Directed by Marc Webb
Starring Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans, Sally Field, Denis Leary, and Martin Sheen

I'm really tired of reading advance reviews of this film and seeing "This was unnecessary," and "Raimi's movies are still on everyone's minds!" Those movies were Sam Raimi's Spider-Man. It was a classic take on the character, and there was a lot of cheese involved. They were great. Even the third one had its moments. There was a colossal problem for me, though. A Spider-Man Tobey Maguire does not make. I always wanted Topher Grace as Peter Parker. He would have been spot on. I was ticked that he got cast as Eddie Brock, but it makes sense in that he would be the complete opposite of Tobey's Peter. Enough with that rant, though.

Andrew Garfield plays a teenaged Peter Parker a la Ultimate Spider-Man, and he is wonderful. He's pretty amazing, actually. The whole film was amazing. I loved it. This was the Spider-Man movie I've been wanting to see. That's not to say I don't have some minor nitpicky things, though.

For the most part, the casting in this film was awesome. Again, Garfield is wonderful as Peter, with just the right bit of teenage awkwardness(and this guy is 28. What the hell?) that he is likeable, even when he does questionable things. The chemistry between him and Emma Stone's Gwen Stacy is electric. They are written like a real couple, with their drama stemming from Peter's moonlighting, but they as a couple really have no problems and are smitten with each other. Martin Sheen as Uncle Ben has a couple of great moments and Sally Field as Aunt May is a welcome change from the ancient old-lady version of the character that is usually expected. Denis Leary stands out as Gwen's father, Captain Stacy, replacing J. Jonah Jameson as our anti-Spider-Man character. Then there's Rhys Ifans. While he does adequate work here, it was weird for me to buy him as Curt Connors/The Lizard. Maybe it's because Connors wasn't British? I don't know? Maybe it's because I kept anticipating Dylan Baker to finally go reptile in the old movies? Or maybe it's because Connors himself seems much more sinister than his comic counterpart?

The movie retells the origin with a slightly different tune than Raimi's first flick. Peter is trying to uncover the mystery of his murdered parents, which leads him to Oscorp and his run-in with the spider that gives him his powers. The web shooters are non-organic this time around, which the film gets major points for. However, I've got to deduct a few, because there's never an issue where Peter runs out of webbing. There is an instance that one of his shooters doesn't work, but it's not due to lack of fluid. There should have at least been that little nod to the classic comic conundrum of Pete running out of webbing. Speaking of, his webbing is pretty much a stolen product from Oscorp. Granted, he tweaks it a bit, but this Peter Parker isn't the total genius he leads people to believe.

The action is great, and The Lizard feels like a genuine threat to Spider-Man. He is big, strong, mean, and can match Peter in speed. The fight scenes are frantic and Spider-Man's movements are way better than the static, basic fights from the old films. There are a lot of video game inspired moves to be seen. Every now and then, the camera will switch to first person, but this isn't used much at all. I've seen some people complain, but I feel like they were just needing something to gripe about. It's not really distracting at all. Just odd. It makes sense when you realize it was done mostly for the 3D aspect of it all.

Speaking of which, the 3D in the movie was not needed at all and didn't really do anything to impress. I barely noticed it. I saw it in IMAX 3D, so I was forced to wear the glasses the whole time. All this did was make the film a little darker. I saw when it was intended to be 3D, but it never felt like it to me. I'm so tired of 3D movies anyway. I prefer my experiences to be 2D viewing, and had that been the option for this screening, I would have been way happier.

Back to the good things. This was not "Twilight" or "Emo" Spider-Man. When pictures of Garfield first hit the net, people were up in arms. Well, you know what? He's not very brooding at all. He's kind of just a normal teenager. He gets picked on, but brushes it off without thinking too much about it. He deals with it. He crushes on Gwen, maybe even borderline stalks her, but it never feels forced or cheesy, and a lot of that is because of the chemistry between Garfield and Stone. They play so well off each other that you could believe they were really dating. That's probably why they are now.

I'm not a fan of CG use in movies. I came from the era where puppets, models, and matte paintings reigned supreme. I like it when there's actually something there for the actors to interact with. I like sets and the work that goes into making all of these fantastic things and places a reality. That said, I was pretty impressed with the CG in the movie. It never bothered me, and that was probably because I was so wrapped up in what was going on on the screen and in the story.

I loved The Amazing Spider-Man. It's right up there in quality with The Avengers and this is a solid start to reworking the franchise. The cast was great, effects were good, and the story wasn't bad at all. There are some nice teases of things to come in the future, such as a certain character mentioned several times but never really seen. Stay after the credits, but not all the way to the end.

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