Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Amazing Spider-man (2012)

Reboots only happen when a movie franchise has run its course, both critically and financially (think George Clooney and Bat-nipples from the '90s). Admittedly, Spider-man 3 did suck ass, but it's only been five years. Really?

*No spoilers. Unless you've seen Sam Raimi's Spider-man.*

Considering that The Amazing Spider-man (TAS) goes back to the start of the story, the first half plays out like the first half of Sam Raimi's Spider-man. The only difference is that TAS is more faithful to the source material, with Peter making his own webbing devices (rather than being part of his mutated biology), Gwen Stacy being his first girlfriend (not Mary-Jane Watson) and the villain (the Lizard instead, and not arch-nemesis Green Goblin). Since we're still relatively fresh from Raimi's movies, the first part of TAS can be a bit draggy.

[The only thing missing from this movie is the iconic, “with great power comes great responsibility," line, but if you pay close attention, though, Uncle Ben kind of summarises the concept in one of the scenes.]

Surprisingly, TAS wasn't the chatty emotional dullfest I expected it to be (apparently it is based on the Ultimate Spider-man series, which had less emphasis on villains). It had sufficient action in the second act to thrill me (at least, enough to satiate my blockbuster cravings), and it also spent quite a bit of time on character development, which luckily didn't really slow the movie down at all.

Going in with no impression whatsoever of Andrew Garfield (haven't seen The Social Network), he completely bowled me over as Peter Parker. He's able to pull off being an awkward gangly teenager (despite being almost 30), and thankfully, isn't namby-pamby. Mainly, Garfield was adorable; think I may have a mini-crush now.

Special mention also goes to Rhys Ifans, who plays Dr Curt Connors/the Lizard, doing a fine job of balancing ethically-conflicted and what he actually wants (which is growing his arm back). It's a bit of a waste that Dylan Baker (who played Connors in Raimi's films) didn't get the chance to go full-on baddie, even after two instalments of foreshadowing. If you're curious to see what's been missed, he guest-stars on The Good Wife once in a while, and he's deliciously slimy in that.

Since this is the restart of the franchise, there is plenty of foreshadowing in this (there's a scene midway of the end credits), and several unresolved minor plotlines saved for the sequel. I'm hoping that they bring in Norman Osborne in the next one; he's plenty mentioned in TAS, but not seen.

I can't decide whether this trumps Raimi's first Spidey flick or vice versa, because both are equally enjoyable and both are good movies in their own right. The clearest comparison I can give is that Raimi's first is true to the definition of 'summer blockbuster', whereas TAS seems to be slated for a February/March release, rather than in July. The journey to becoming Spider-man is felt more in TAS, and in way, the timeline is slower as Peter is still in high school at the end of TAS (whereas in Raimi, everyone graduates high school quarter-way through the film).

[My only gripe with TAS is that I like Denis Leary too much.]

Although I still don't see the point in rebooting the series in such a short time, TAS is a worthy entry into the movie series. Do watch this. 8/10

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