Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Review: The Amazing Spider-Man

Starring: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans
Directed by: Marc Webb
Language: English
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 136 minutes

Another year of superheroes and so far I'm not complaining. Next to The Avengers and Dark Knight Rises, The Spider-Man reboot was up there on my list for the year to see.

The movie introduces us to a young Peter Parker and his parents. Immediately this family faces conflict and causes them to leave their home. His parents leave him in the care of his Uncle Ben and Aunt May. The story fast forwards to Peter in high school. He's a smart, handsome photographer who wants to be part of the popular crowd, but not in a desperate way. We're subtly introduced to his crush, Gwen Stacy. Peter finds something of his father's in the basement while helping Uncle Ben and he begins investigating the hidden documents inside. This leads him to sneaking into OsCorp and meeting Dr. Curt Connors. This is also is the beginning of him becoming a new man.

I'm not sure where to begin with this one. There's just so much I want to say, so this'll be an unusually long review of a recent movie. I suppose I will start with my thoughts on the movie without comparing it to Sam Raimi's Spider-Man. First of all, I really enjoyed the take of the original story. We all know it well, whether you're a fan of the comic book or only saw the first movie. It was still interesting and showed the audience a different perspective of Peter Parker's life by showing us a brief moment with his parents and his relationship with his aunt and uncle. I also enjoyed the contrast of character personalities as well. Peter is a bit of nerd, but he seems more familiar as well as the other characters the audience come across. Lastly, the casting choices were very smart. The trip through this reinvisioned story was quite enjoyable despite a few plot holes. It definitely made me excited for the sequel and I hope it doesn't lose it's momentum by then either.

Since I was conflicted on whether or not to make this a review, a comparison, or just bunch it all together in a video, this will just have to sufficence as I put all my thoughts together in one massive post. I kinda don't want to compare this new version and the old. They both execute basically the same story in different ways. Sam Raimi gave a more comic book tone to Peter Parker's story and Marc Webb gave it a more realistic, slightly darker tone. Both movies are great in their own way and they both have problems here and there, but it doesn't take away from the entertainment value of either one.

Tobey Maguire's portrayal of Peter Parker was definitely nerder between the two. He was picked on, awkward, and pretty much fit the television stereotype of what a nerd is. Andrew Garfield was a more sarcastic, slightly cocky, but still an outsider type of nerd. They both shared a love for photography, felt awkward around their object of affection, and had a strained bond with their uncle which became a catalyst for them becoming Spider-Man. Once they learned that they had this new found power, they took advantage of it in a slightly irresponsible way. Lastly, they were both reasonably emotional when things didn't go right (ignoring Spider-Man 3) and it fit the tone of the movie. If they switched how to portray the same emotion, it would feel out of place.

Next is Peter Parker's love interest Mary Jane Watson played by Kirsten Durnst and Gwen Stacy played by Emma Stone. Like Peter Parker, these characters fit the tone of the movie that the directors wanted to portray and if they switched it would feel out of place...especially with the love interest. Mary Jane fits the standard mold of damsel in distress, which can be a little annoying. As for Gwen, she felt like a familiar character. She's smart, beautiful, and still seems like a typical high school student that gets nervous around Peter Parker. I honestly cannot picture her being the damsel in distress type.

Then we have our villians. Norman Osborn and Dr. Curt Connors both had a good head on their shoulders. They shared a vision of greatness to change the world, but the power seeped into them in the wrong way as well as an experiment gone wrong. Green Goblin was definitely more cartoony than Lizardman, but it fit the comical style of the movie Raimi visioned. Sometimes it was a little silly and went overboard, but the execution was passable. Despite some plot holes, Curt Connors's motive seemed reasonable as well and his interactions with Peter and Gwen seemed believable.

Lastly, I will lump all of the supporting characters together in comparison. I can't compare Peter's parents since they were not introduced in the Raimi version, but they both shared the aunt and uncle relationship. Both portrayals, once again, fit the tone of the movie. Aunt May were both supportive characters and had their weak moments when called for. Uncle Ben were both strong father figures to Peter as well and reasonably butted heads with him in a believable way for the tone of their respective movies. There are some extras that don't match up with each other, so I'll just generalize and say that they were decent characters and successfully delivered their purposes for the movie.

Now for the final part I want to discuss on this lengthy movie review. I highly advise those who haven't seen the movie yet to skip to the end because there are going to some spoilers. They cannot be avoided as I want to talk about my thoughts on the plot holes in this movie. So, once again, move onto the last paragraph of this post to avoid spoilers.

Despite all the praise this movie has received, I'd have to agree with those who commented on the plot holes and lack of unveiling Peter Parker's untold story. I haven't researched many people's opinion on the matter, but I heard some thoughts from some reliable sources: Pretty Much It, Badass Digest, and Doug Walker (a.k.a The Nostalgia Critic). Now I remember viewing the review from the PMI team when the movie premiered at midnight and some of the love for the movie on first viewing was rather low due to indulging on the various trailers and teaser pictures released. This affected the enjoyment of the movie, but it was later stated that the second round made the movie more enjoyable. I must say that I will agree with Eric that if you didn't give into all the promotional clutter, you'll enjoy it more. Even though I want to get into the movie industry and enjoy films as a fan, I don't really seek out extra trailers, teaser photos, concept art, or any other promotional efforts that are not shown on TV, YouTube ads, and movie previews. I like it that way. The same goes for music videos, but that doesn't concern this post.

I know I just praised this movie earlier, but my biggest praise was the casting choices and story angle. Of course, more of the problems I have involve the story. Aside from the plot holes, the climax wasn't all that exciting. After you've seen the movie, you'll notice that the trailers on TV reveal the final act. It's borderline anti-climatic, but it still held my interest just nothing extremely exciting. As for the plot holes, it seems this has to do with the editing department and the possible last minute decision to change Peter's back story. I understand that this movie was supposed to reveal the untold story of Peter Parker and it was completely cut out. I get how that can be upsetting, especially since all the promotional videos kept pushing that information and we never got it. So, I suppose at the last minute they decided to use it as a lead up to the sequel. It's clever, but they shouldn't have pulled a false advertisement move.

Before looking at the sources I linked above, I noticed these odd things in the movie. First was Peter Parker's purpose as Spider-Man. Most know, especially if you've read the comic or seen Sam Raimi's version, that Uncle Ben dies and it's Peter's fault in some way. Once he becomes Spider-Man, he uses his power to find the killer and then suddenly his search stops like he forgot or something. I found that odd, but I shrugged it off and continued enjoying the movie. Then there was Mr. Ratha's sudden end off the bridge. Did he die or survive somehow? Honestly, his conclusion didn't even look like he died at all. I thought he was going to show up later or that Lizardman was going to attack, but no...just another nice little hole in the story. As fascinating as they made Curt Connors, Lizardman was a bit underwhelming with his motives and personality. It just seemed so cliche and out of the blue. Aside from that, Dr. Connors's back story is quite vague. We see close ups of his wedding ring, but no tie in on its significance. Another sudden moment that happened in the movie that I didn't catch on to immediately was the dinner scene where Peter meets Gwen's family. The sudden mood change didn't flow very naturally. Another moment involving Lizardman that seemed completely useless was when the officers become infected and turn into lizard-like creatures. I got excited and thought the city would be in chaos, but they simply cut away, never heard from again until the anecdote is released and they change back to humans. Ah, my heart just sunk a little reflecting on a possible epic moment.

For those who skipped to this paragraph, I would like to close that after the movie was over, I was immediately pumped for the sequel. I like the direction they're going in despite the plot holes and somewhat anti-climatic ending fight scene. Hopefully, they will tie up some loose ends in either the sequel or the deleted/bonus footage when the DVD comes out. Once again, I love the reimagining and casting choices a lot. Marc Webb has a good thing going and I hope he keeps his momentum going...and that Sony will back off, especially with promotions. If you haven't seen it yet, I highly encourage to see it!

Rating: 4/5

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