Wednesday, 11 July 2012

The Amazing Spider-Man

I'll be the first to admit that I was prepared to thoroughly hate this film for several reasons. ONE: It's only been handful of years since Raimi's last Spider Man film. TWO: I got the impression that Marvel was trying to win over the Twilight crowd by hiring R-Patts twin, Andrew Garfield. And THREE: Hollywood and Marvel wanted to take Peter right back to high school and start over with his origin story AGAIN. Never mind that Peter has been an adult in his comics and cartoons for like three decades. Anyway...

So it was with a sense of deep-seated skepticism that I entered the theater on Sunday to see The Amazing Spider-Man. Well, I was pleasantly surprised. Garfield pulled off the loveable dork that is Peter Parker very well. He imbued his Parker with a sense of awkwardness and vulnerability, yet captured that inner steel core that makes Peter rise to heroic heights once he gets his spidey powers. He has fun with his new-found powers, has those moments of WTFery as he discovers he can climb walls and oh yeah, that his hands now stick to things. Like ladies blouses. A side note: poor Tia Texada, gone from badass TV cop to subway eye candy.

Director Marc Webb certainly amped up Spidey's story, showing us a bit more about Peter's parents and utilizing some wonderful f/x that had my jaw agape a few times. He also fleshed out Uncle Ben and Aunt May a bit more with the incredible Sally Field and Martin Sheen in the respective roles. And I love, LOVE the fact that he dumped that eternal screaming damsel in distress, Mary Jane Watson, in favor of the smart, thinks-on-her-feet, Gwen Stacy, played by the awesome Emma Stone. For the first time I was not seized with the impulse to backhand Peter's love interest into next week. Props, Mr. Webb for giving Peter an actual partner and not some pretty toy who is basically good for nothing.

Rhys Ifans gave a great performance as Dr. Connors, the brilliant scientist turned super villain, who once worked with Peter's father. He showed us Connors' torment over the loss of his arm and his desire to help others while also giving us the arrogance that gets magnified when he injects himself with the serum. I also enjoyed Dennis Leary as Captain Stacy, a realistic hard ass unlike the comedic J. Jonah Jamison.

Okay, now we come to the not so good, the writing. What do you call having Peter's father be the scientist who develops the spider that bites Peter? Contrivance. In all capital letters. I mean, really? That's just lazy writing. You can play with the source material to a certain degree, but this is messing with the very heart of the story. And what happened to the Big Secrets of Richard Parker's past, the plot point that drove the trailer fever? A lot was left out or quickly glossed over until the Easter egg after the first credits. The writers were apparently already anticipating sequels. I hate when they save everything for sequels. Use your imagination more. And I'm also disappointed that they left out the immortal Spider-Man line "With great power comes great responsibility." How can you leave out THE line every one knows and loves from the comics?

The Amazing Spider-Man is a good summer action flick that I enjoyed and will see again. Not in the movies though. I'm saving for multiple trips to see The Dark Knight Rises.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

My expectations were low for the same reasons and I was really impressed. Thought everything about it was superior.

Melissa Bradley said...

@Alex It was superior in a lot of was to the last Spider Man movie and I enjoyed it very much. I found myself wanting more, though.

Craig Edwards said...

No one is mentioning J. Jonah Jameson in the reviews, so he's either not in this one or played pretty poorly when compared to the incredible JK Simmons. Terrific review, Mel. Your reasons for apprehension about this one before seeing it mirrored mine. And THANK YOU for calling the filmmakers on cutting and holding back story for the sequels. I remember when a movie told the complete story as written - with no thought to a sequel. Let those filmmakers figure that out IF this movie makes money. That reasoning is why I don't read a lot of fantasy and science fiction for the last decade or so - too many pre-fab book series where the main story is dragged out across any number of books - going on so long you risk the author dying before tge story is complete. That's BS.

George Beremov [Nebular] said...

Wonderful review, sweetheart.
I'm surprised you didn't say anything about the Lizard. Everyone who saw the film was complaining about him being a weak villain and the poor CGI work on its design as well.

I'm a huge fan of Spidey franchise with Spider-Man 2 being my favorite. Sadly I won't be able too see it until the next week as its release date here is July 13.

Maurice Mitchell said...

Excellent review Melissa. Raimi agreed with you about the webbing, but the fanboys shot him down. I'm seeing TAS this weekend, but I'm saving my money for multiple IMAX screenings of the Dark Knight. Hopefully, my jaw will be agape there too.

Matthew Vanacore said...

Superb review, Melissa! We pretty much agreed on all the major points. And we both entered the theater with equal trepidation.

The reboot culture is only growing stronger. At least this movie justifies it somewhat.

Melissa Bradley said...

@Craig I call it like I see 'em and I cannot stand holding back for the sequels. Why not tell your best story at this moment? J Jonah is not in this and I agree JK was the shit as Jameson.

@George Thanks, hon! Yeah, the Lizard was a pretty weak villain. I thought Connors was a better character in human form. Spider Man 2 is definitely my favorite of the Spidey flicks, too. :)

@Maurice Thank you! And to think Spidey lost his crown to Sid and crew from Ice Age this weekend. I knew there was no way he was going to approach Avengers. I've got my Dark Knight money already set aside. I know my jaw will be unhinged in the very best way possible. :)

@Matt Thank you very much for the high praise. The reboot culture is taking over and this one was definitely one of the good ones. I was very skeptical going in and for once was shocked at how good it all turned out.

J-SON said...

I like your commentary on the film's writing. Nice opinion. Also loved Emma Stone's Gwen Stacy over a Mary Jane, adds lots of spice and taste to the production. Also LOL at your comment on Tia Texada.

Great opinion :)