Film Review: The Amazing Spiderman

ImageAlright, so I don’t normally review films and don’t intend to make a habit out of it. Occasionally, I feel moved or inspired by a film enough to mention in a blog or even comment about it on my Facebook page. The reason why I’m doing a more full-on review for this particular movie is because I read several reviews on Flixster and the official reviews on Empire and Total Film, which almost put me off going to the cinema to watch this one. Fortunately, my son is a Spiderman fan (nutter is a better description) and I really wanted to treat him to it.

He was born the year the last Spiderman movie came out on the big screen, but he has all three on DVD and watches them repeatedly. He has a bunch of Spiderman figures, tshirts, shorts, bed-covers . . . you get the picture. Anything with Spiderman on it is an essential item for him to possess. So I took him, with my wife and daughter in tow as well. We opted to watch it in 3D and it came to a total of £30 for a family of four. It was showing in the largest screen in my local cinema, with a curved screen and auditorium for optimum viewing. We even managed to get seating in the middle (which I believe gives you the prime spot in relation to sound, vision and the overall experience. I even coughed up another £5 for the kids to have popcorn, Oreo’s and a Fruit Shoot each.

This was my families first 3D cinema experience, and only the 3rd for myself. Previously, I’ve watched Avatar (which kind of really relaunched the whole 3D film experience thing) and Clash of the Titans (wish I hadn’t) in 3D, so I was interested to see how they would react and how far 3D had come since my last viewing. Suffice to say that I spent a great deal of time whispering furiously to the kids to put their glasses back on (having paid for the privilege).  My wife was suitably impressed with the 3D and I must agree, The Amazing Spiderman made good use of the technology, particularly when entering the first person perspective with Spidey free-running and swinging through New York. A lot of the on-screen computer interface and projectiles where often flying out of the screen, with lots of depth in the city-scape shots and over the shoulder angles. If you are going to watch this film or really want to know what the fuss is about 3D cinema, then this is a perfect film to go experience it.

Back to the film. This edition was helmed by Marc Webb, who also directed 500 Days of Summer. On a scale ranging from slapstick superhero capers such as SUPER, and dark fantasy such as The Dark Knight, this is what I call a Half-Nolan. At times it reminded me of M N Shymalan’s Unbreakable, in the way it explored the coming to terms with super powers, with some of Raimi’s Spiderman’s humour injected to keep it from becoming to broody. Webb even gives a nod to Nolan’s Batman Begins, with Peter Parker falling through a flaky roof (instead of a boarded over well), and then gaining inspiration for his costume from a giant luchador mask. Parker/Spiderman is played by Andrew Garfield (Social Network, Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus), who brings a little bit of ‘cool’ to Peter Parker and a more introverted performance that shows the inner-life of the character and an free-runners athleticism to Spidey. The love interest is Gwen Stacy (rather than Mary-Jane) played by Emma Stone (Easy A, The Help, Friends with Benefits), who also provides a strong performance. Rhys Ifans plays Dr Connor’s/The Lizard.

This is effectively a reboot, but many critics and fans have suggested that it is too early for one. The last Spiderman movie came out 2007 and the first came out in 2002. So you could argue its five years or ten years since we had a Spiderman movie or his origin told. Like in the comic book, Spidey is bitten by a radioactive spider and uses a web-shooter instead of firing webs out of his wrists. We have to relive key moments from the 2002 original, such as getting bitten, the confrontation with Flash Thompson, the wrestling hall, the first terrifying moment of jumping off a building and Uncle Ben’s (Martin Sheen) death, There is even a scene towards the end of the movie that seems like pastiche from the original. But as someone who grew up reading the comic books, and watching Spiderman and his Amazing Friends and the Spiderman reboot cartoons from the 90s, I still found it exciting to watch his transformation from geek to superhero. In fact, the origin movie is my favourite kind of superhero movie. After the disappointing Spiderman 3, I think it was the right time to bring someone else to re-imagine Spiderman for the big screen.

But how does it compare? I was excited to watch this film, but nowhere near how excited I was to see the 2002 version finally hit the screens. There are two moments in that first version; first when Tobey Maguire experiments with his powers on the rooftops and the moment he pulls on the mask the first time to swing out over the streets in pursuit of the thug who killed Uncle Ben; that the new movie couldn’t compare with for the feeling of sheer exhilaration and fear for the character. But then, as mentioned above, the Spidey-eye view in this movie, in 3D has created a special place for itself in my heart. But that’s about it. The only thing I found myself missing during this film is J K Simmons’ Jonah J Jameson, otherwise, I think this movie holds its own. How can I say that? Well, the Raimi movies used a lot of CG, but in this version, I can’t tell if they did. CG doesn’t compare to knowing that a real person is doing all that crazy stuff on screen, and being able to tell something is CG just spoils the magic (suspension of disbelief).

Rhys Ifans’ bad guy is well-balanced and well acted. You can chart when he goes from being a scientist who wants to help people to bat-cuss-crazy, although his Lizard does look a lot like the Abomination from Incredible Hulk. He’s not a black and white ‘evil-villain’ as the reviews make out.

The only other thing I’d like to mention is the critics complaints about loose-end. I’m not going to say what they are, but anyone who reads books knows that a storyteller likes to leave loose-ends so that they can pick up those threads in the sequels. That’s right, a sequel is very likely in the offing.

In short, yes this is a good movie and go watch it in 3D. 4 stars.

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