Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Amazing Spider-man - FilmReview

Article author: Alwyn Ash

Director spins a Webb that surpasses previous installments...

If you felt that James Vanderbilt's story of the famous Marvel Comics character had come too soon after Sam Raimi's trilogy then you are not alone. I, too, had been deeply concerned by the reboot tag. Why a reboot and not a sequel? However, my viewpoint has changed somewhat after watching Andrew Garfield in action as teenager Peter Parker/Spider-man. Though Tobey Maguire's performance set a benchmark for the webbed superhero - I had always been a fan of Nicholas Hammond, and The Amazing Spider-Man television series which ran for two seasons from 1977-79 - in film, Garfield's handling of the role has gained him far more points in my opinion. And although the chemistry between Maquire and Kirsten Dunst as high school crush Mary Jane Watson was a delight to watch, there is no doubting the far superior chemistry between Garfield and co-star Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy.

And so to the plot: this is probably where I feel a "reboot" wasn't particularly necessary. Except for the look into Peter Parker's history, and his parents, the spider bite is still there, obviously, and the teenager's realisation that he has undergone a DNA "change". However, Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans) and his Lizard alter-ego could have sat quite easily in a Spider-Man 4 feature.

The special effects are simply superb, though the Lizard doesn't really make much of an impact as a super-villain. I guess full credit for this movie must be given to Garfield, who's character is seen as a geek, bullied and never truly fitting in. The death sequence of Uncle Ben (played here by Martin Sheen) is beautifully and painfully told, as is Peter's relationship with his Aunt May (Sally Field) throughout the film. There is warmth and positive direction in a feature that could have gone so badly wrong. The decision to reboot was explained too, with director Marc Webb decribing this new outing by saying "we're not making Sam's movie again. It's a different universe and a different story with different characters."

At the heart of the tale we have a boy learning to become a man while at the same time coming to terms with his new abilities. And, as with previous stories in this franchise, his love for the girl who catches his eye, in this case high school classmate Stacy. The Amazing Spider-man does feel more grounded than Raimi's vision, though perhaps its conclusion fails to satisy completely.

I have always stated that I am no comic book fan, and so these cinematic productions are my main glimpse into the worlds of Marvel and DC Comics. Perhaps fans will have felt more excitement by the Lizard's inclusion - Dr Curtis "Curt" Connors had featured in Raimi's Spider-man (in brief mention only), Spider-Man 2 and Spider-Man 3, and had been played by actor Dylan Baker, though there was no transformation into his alter-ego - but for this reviewer there was something lacking in the villain role this time around.

I have to pay tribute to James Horner's score for the film, which was simply wonderful throughout and embraced the emotional string just that little bit tighter.

The simple question is, does The Amazing Spider-man stand up boldly and proudly next to the success that was Batman Begins or sit in shame with Superman Returns? With a sequel already coming our way, the former is likely. Though how long this franchise can be sustained with Garfield in the lead role is unknown.