Monday, October 1, 2012

The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)

Without giving an explanation, a young Peter Parker is abandoned by his mother and father. Peter is raised by his Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) and Aunt May (Sally Field), but he can‘t escape the memory of a mysterious departure from his parents. Now a teenager, Parker (Andrew Garfield) is still looking for closure, and he finds an important clue, while searching through his father‘s old paperwork. Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans) could be the missing link that connects Peter to his parent’s vague past. Connors might have the answers, but a trip to Oscorp changes everything. Parker suffers a bite from a genetically enhanced spider, and Peter accidentally inherits superpowers. Eventually, Peter adopts a crime fighting alter ego. Spider-Man is dedicated to stopping all criminals, but Curt Connors will provide his toughest challenge. The Lizard threatens to use a chemical weapon, that will transform all humans into lizard creatures. Can Peter Parker balance his life as a normal high school student, fight crime, and stop The Lizard’s diabolical plans?

At first, I didn’t have a lot of faith in Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker/Spider-Man. He just seemed like an odd choice to me, but Garfield delivered a fine performance in The Social Network, so I did have some hope for him here. I was skeptical about Garfield as Spider-Man, but he really impressed me in this film. Garfield is full of charisma, and he was able to bring some believable cockiness and enjoyable humor to the Spider-Man character. As Peter Parker, Garfield showcased some real emotions (especially during one final and intense argument with Uncle Ben), and he really nailed the nerdy, shy teenager persona. Garfield proved to be an excellent choice for Peter Parker/Spider-Man, and he has the potential to outshine Tobey Maguire as the true star of the Spider-Man franchise.

Garfield delivered the goods, and the rest of the cast was enjoyable. Emma Stone was very solid as Gwen Stacy. Stone was a nice choice for Peter Parker‘s love interest, and she shared some excellent chemistry with Andrew Garfield throughout this film. Chris Zylka (Flash Thompson) had the perfect look of a high school jock, who bullied and picked on the weaker kids. Zylka was able to adapt to a more friendly personality during Flash’s character change for the second half of this film, and he provided a believable performance as the jerk, who loved to pick on and torture Peter Parker. Martin Sheen and Sally Field brought their experience as reliable veterans to the Ben and May Parker characters. Field and Sheen were convincing as Peter’s mentors/guardians, and their performances flowed so well. And Denis Leary brought a stern, strict attitude to Captain George Stacy, but Leary never reaches the level of an unlikable character. Yeah, he’s an overprotective father, and he has his moments as a hard ass police Captain, but Leary is one of the good guys. Captain Stacy is more than willing to make the necessary sacrifices, and Leary did bring a strong sense of realism to the normal, hard working, family man side of this character.

Willem Dafoe and Alfred Molina did set the bar pretty high for Spider-Man villains, but Rhys Ifans deserves a spot amongst the more entertaining antagonists in Spider-Man films. Of course, Ifans received a lot of help from CGI during his scenes as The Lizard creature, but as Curt Connors, Ifans could deliver the essential personality of a devious, mad scientist. Ifans is very convincing as an intelligent villain, and he did provide one of the more enjoyable performances here.

Marc Webb won’t top the praises for Sam Raimi’s directing of the original Spider-Man trilogy with one film, but he’s on the right track so far. His style might feel kind of basic and ordinary at times, but Webb’s thrilling action sequences are so fun to watch. Webb didn’t abuse the CGI, and he didn‘t throw a barrage of unnecessary and flashy special effects at the audience. I usually enjoy the limited and conscious approach, because SO many big time Hollywood blockbusters feature an abuse of special effects, and some mainstream directors can‘t control their urges for overusing CGI and unnecessary explosions, especially Michael Bay.

The Amazing Spider-Man has a sleek, sharp look, and the visuals are impressive here. Marc Webb was a fine choice for the director of this film. His vision for the new Spider-Man film felt refreshing, and Webb should be the #1 option as director for the planned sequels.

I took a chance on the 3D, and the extra cash didn’t bother me one bit. You can clearly see a few 3D tricks throughout the film, but The Amazing Spider-Man doesn’t go overboard with Hollywood’s most popular gimmick. Webb knew when and how to use 3D effects, and I never got that “this is so unnecessary” feeling. 3D isn’t used as a diversion tactic, that tries to distract the audience from a shitty and nonsensical storyline (I.e. Resident Evil: Afterlife). Instead, the 3D provided a nice bonus attraction, while maintaining high quality effects at the same time.

The Amazing Spider-Man features great thrills, and the final showdown between Spider-Man and The Lizard is loaded with some fantastic action, that will keep you on the edge of your seat. The Amazing Spider-Man has a run time of two hours and seventeen minutes, but I didn’t feel it. The lengthy run time flies by, and Webb’s steady pacing was a nice touch. A good cast, highly entertaining, stylish action scenes, and Marc Webb showed some real promise as director here. This reboot/remake should give Spider-Man fans and other moviegoers a lot of hope for the new series of films, and I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but bring on the sequels!

Final Rating: 8/10

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