Tuesday, July 3, 2012

'The Amazing Spider-Man' is character driven, story stands strong

 I'm sick of origin stories. They are pointless. Comic book fans know them left, right and center, and movie fans could easily pick up what is needed from context or from a couple of quick flashback scenes, that is how comic book films should be made from here on out. I want fresh stories, not the same old tired crap slightly modified and called new. That's nothing more than putting lipstick on a pig.
That said, “The Amazing Spider-Man” was nothing short of just that, amazing. It's a reboot to the Sam Raimi led Spidey trilogy that started with a bang and ended by alienating me to the point that I can't pop in any of the films in the series anymore to watch with enjoyment.
I'll go as far as to say that had this movie been released pre-Avengers it would have held the title of best comic book movie of the summer, this has really jumped into rarefied air. Especially when after the first trailer for this flick was released I wasn't even sure that I would bother seeing it. It hadn't been long enough for a reboot in my eyes, plus the disaster of “Spider-Man 3” was still fresh in my memory. The trailer, which was nothing more than some first person web swinging looked more like a video game than a movie, and it turned me off.
Somewhere along the way I saw the rest of the trailers, and the memory of the third flick of the last series melted from the forefront of my mind and this film became one of my more anticipated films of the year, behind two other comic films though, the aforementioned “Avengers” and the third Christopher Nolan led Bat-film “The Dark Knight Rises.” Well now Nolan has a lot to live up to if he wants to match Joss Whedon's May marvel or Marc Webb's aptly named Spider-Man.
Andrew Garfield won me over as Spider-Man, managing to ditch his British accent and play an American teenager with ease. Emma Stone as Gwen Stacey was great casting, though I felt a little dirty pining for her as she played a teenager, Rhys Ifans was great as Dr. Curt Connors, even if I didn't care so much for his Lizard portrayal.
The look and feel of the Lizard is another sore point with me. He doesn't look like a lizard, but rather some type of dinosaur, and his ability to regenerate limbs while the Lizard is way too fast. So basically there wasn't much there for me to enjoy out of the “big bad” but that withstanding the character driven story didn't need for there to be.
What was great about this film though, it's not bogged down with origin. It happens in the course of the film, and yes there is a few minutes where Peter figures things out, but it's not half the film, it worked well. Spidey also gets to do some of what I love the most about the character and that's interact and shoot quips at some random street punks and the like, he's not just fighting the super-villains the whole time.
The update on how Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) is killed is great for a modern audience, and let's Peter still think that he is responsible. Sally Field as Aunt May was one of the characters I was worried the most about, as I didn't think she could play the old woman, well I didn't realize how old she's gotten. That plus some make-up and she is very believable as the eldest Parker.
My biggest complaint about the movie is the Peter-Gwen relationship, they go from not knowing each other to him being invited over for dinner without ever having a date. Her parents are thinking of him as a boyfriend already, and they end up making out by the end of the night. The relationship should have been explored a lot more.
I love the update switching her from a rich girl to one of his high school contemporaries, though I also miss Harry Osborn from the high school scenes. Peter also showed just a bit too much backbone to Flash Thompson and wasn't all that worried about a secret identity it seemed, at least at times. Really that's just picking nits though.
The film knows where it is going, and gets there with ease. It's believable, it's enjoyable and most of all it's fun.

OVERALL RATING: B+ It has heart, but there is still some room for improvement.

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