Monday, July 9, 2012

The Amazing Spider-Man

Ladies and gentlemen, the amazing Spider-Man! – Mark II. Due to many complications and problems typical of Hollywood, after three movies and ten years, Sam Raimi, Tobey Maguire, and Kristen Dunst and her bright hair are being tossed to the wind. They had a good run, but now it time for the new; two of the hottest young actors (in both appearance and skill) Andrew Garfield, and Emma Stone, and the director with the perfect name, Marc Webb, are all set for an at least equally long, probably better reboot of everyone’s favorite web-crawling franchise.

For my sanity, I’m going to try my best not to directly compare this movie to the 2002 version, but I’m afraid it might be hard, though not quite as hard as it is to not judge people who say “The reboot is actually a better film, but since I enjoyed the ’02 version just fine, I’m going to say I didn’t like it at all!” Ahem.

Andrew Garfield is Peter Parker, a smart, slightly geeky, and more than slightly troubled, but still hip high school student. He lives with his Aunt and Uncle ever since his parents unexpectedly left him with them, and disappeared. His dad was a scientist, who was working on something very secret. One day, when cleaning out the basement, Peter finds his dad’s old briefcase, and inside, some equations he doesn’t understand, and a picture of his dad and a co-worker; Dr. Curt Connors, played by Rhys Ifans. Peter goes to talk to Dr. Connors, but ends up doing more sneaking around than talking. He ends up in a strange room full of spiders, where one bites him. No way.

Getting used to his new super powers proves to be hard for Peter, and while funny, it was a little unbelievable… even for a comic hero. After that awkward first day though, things start to pick up for Peter. He first uses his power as we could all assume; to make his own life easier, but it doesn’t exactly work, and after a tragedy we all knew was coming, he puts himself toward a more noble cause, more noble, but still his own cause. You get the super part overnight, but the hero part takes some work. The spider didn’t make Peter good, but it does jump-start his journey toward heroism, a journey that takes a long time, and involves the audience in a way only a modern super hero pic could.
Peter has a crush on a pretty, popular girl at school named Gwen Stacy played pleasingly by the lovely Emma Stone. Gwen apparently likes him too, because when Peter finally – and awkwardly – talks to her and asks her out, things get moving along pretty fast. They have a cute, hilariously awkward relationship, (and you should know, I don’t often think awkward movie moments are actually funny, I usually just laugh to keep from crying… not in this case) and before you know it, he admits to being the “masked vigilante” her police captain dad has been trying to catch and arrest, immediately eliminating at least half of the unnecessary melodrama classic to the genre. Another thing I enjoyed was that Gwen never requires rescuing through the entire film, another refreshing change from the usual super hero fare, which will also remove that drag-y repetitive feeling when it inevitably happens in the next film.

This web-slinger is flying in 3D, and if you’re pulling out the extra money for that ticket, I will not say ye nay. The 3D is quality, and shows off the action sequences very well. But this action would look good without it as well, in fact, it would look good anywhere – it is some of the most stylish and exciting action I’ve ever seen. It has a certain crisp, clean feeling that really brings out that fun thrill that should be in a comic hero film, while never throwing away the gravity that makes Spidey’s situations worth investing in.

I would tell you, as a general rule, to never, ever, ever, ever put slow motion in a movie unless it was absolutely necessary to show what happened, or if you were making a ridiculous, stylized movie. I have now changed my mind. Marc Webb did a great job knowing exactly where to put the slow-mo to perfectly enhance the visual appeal, and the intensity, and I now believe he should be the only person ever allowed to use that dreaded gimmick.

Webb also did wonders in the character department. I have never felt so invested in Spidey’s story before, whether when he was sad and bitter from being abandoned by his parents, or his sense of duty when it came to saving the city, his slow journey to being a true hero, to his sweet nervousness around Gwen, it was all great. (Things totally missing or done painfully wrong in the ’02 Spidey! (Sorry, I compared them… but I couldn’t help myself, and hey, I lasted a pretty long time!))

So now we come to the conclusion, and what is there to say? Which Spidey is better in my opinion? Is it finally time for the comparison? Well, I say no, because both movies are perfectly good stories of the Spider’s origin on their own merit, and this review is on The Amazing Spider-Man, so that’s where I’ll stay.  This movie is a high-flying good time with pizzazz that gives The Avengers a run for its money in visual flair, but delves in deep, and is emotionally resonant, just how we like our heroes these days. We all basically knew what the plot for this film was going to be; there’s only so many ways to do an origin story, so there's nothing really surprising, but it promises there will be more - much more - and I for one, can hardly wait.

- 4/5 stars

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