Thursday, July 5, 2012

Review: The Amazing Spider-Man

Only 10 years removed from the Sam Raimi/Tobey Maguire collab "Spider-Man" in 2002 we get another reboot of the web slinging film franchise.  When I first heard about this new Marc Webb helmed movie "The Amazing Spider-Man" I thought that this film was greenlit about 15 years too soon.  After all, Marc Webb's greatest directing accomplishment to-date (and ONLY other major Hollywood movie) has been the quirky romantic film 500 Days of Summer .  After seeing the new Spider-Man a few days ago I must say that this film is surprisingly well-done with an amazing cast that actually eclipses each of the films in the Raimi trilogy.  Primarily thanks to Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone, this Spider-Man really is amazing.

What makes this movie tick is the two leads.  While I did enjoy Maguire's performance as Spider-Man (minus all the Emo-Spidey stuff in the third Raimi film), Andrew Garfield is a much more effective Peter Parker.  He just comes across as a nerdy kid with a quiet confidence that gets magnified once he learns to control his powers.  Where Garfield really excels.  I wasn't a big fan of The Social Network but I could tell that Garfield was a talent when I saw it.  His age may hurt him as the "new" batch of Spider-Man movies progresses, but I feel that he'll be able to achieve more after his franchise run is over than Maguire was able to.

As good as Garfield is in and out of the Spidey suit, Emma Stone as Gwen Stacey is a monumental upgrade over the whiny boring Kirsten Dunst (Mary Jane in the Raimi movies).  Not only does she look great rocking the knee-high boots and dyed blonde hair, but as we have learned from her earlier films, Emma can act.  She turns in a smart performance as the perfect compliment and love interest to Garfield's Parker.  The producers were able to fill in the rest of the cast with accomplished and talented actors such as Martin Sheen, Sally Field, Dennis Leary and Rhys Ifans.  All of these actors nail their roles and add to the overall effectiveness of the script and Webb's direction.

It's hard to believe that this is only the second movie for Marc Webb.  He and his effects team do a fantastic job of keeping the action "realistic" and the pacing timely.  There are very few slow and boring parts in this film and all of the Spidey actions scenes are carefully thought out.  Webb does an awesome job of featuring several "point-of-view" sequences where the audience gets a first-hand-look at what swinging through New York City must feel like.  Another welcome addition to this reboot is the fact that Parker is now making his own web slinging "goo" rather than having it come organically from his arm (as Raimi's version portrays).  The webs seem more authentic and are used more effectively throughout the movie.

Other reviewers have complained about the lack of an effective villain in this Spider-Man film.  I thought Ifans did a great job as scientist Curt Connors (The Lizard) and the visual effects are expertly handled to make a human to lizard transformation seem somewhat plausible.  It'll be interesting to see where Webb and the franchise producers go from here in selecting the next villain for the series.

Believe it or not, with all due respect to the excellent Avengers film, I actually think this is the best comic book movie of the year (some Caped-Crusader guy might have something to say about that in a few weeks though).  While this is not the most original movie idea out there it's definitely executed with thought and care and doesn't feel rushed at all.  I definitely did not walk into the theater thinking that this new Spider-Man would be better than any of the three Raimi films but it actually is.  I'm back on board the Spider-Man train and look forward to the next Spidey movie with Garfield back in the suit.  A solid 4.5 out of 5 JRs for The Amazing Spider-Man.

NOTE:  I did not see this movie in 3D due to showtime conflicts.  There are several scenes that seem made for a 3D viewing audience and since the movie was indeed shot in 3D, I would recommend paying the few extra bucks to see it that way.


Dan O. said...

Nice review Jordan. This movie definitely had plenty of fun and exciting moments and characters that we could feel something for. For some reason though, I just kept on thinking about the Sam Raimi original movies and yes, I know they aren't masterpieces by any means, but I still loved them and it just seemed like this whole film was unnecessary, but fun.

CombatMonk said...

Better than the Avengers? Some faggy guy in a Spider outfit? That must be one helluva film.