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Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Amazing Spider-Man: Movie Review & Analysis *Spoilers*

Officially showing in international territories including The Philippines, The Amazing Spider-Man is currently swinging into theaters now. Below is a review and analysis of said movie, centering on its modern take as well as making comparisons to the Sam Raimi Spider-Man films. SPOILERS are here, so be warned and read at your own risk.

The Amazing Spider-Man swings into theaters on June 29 and July 3rd.

It's been more than 10 years since Spider-Man swung into theaters, reinvigorating and helping usher in the blockbuster superhero film initiative we've come to expect year in and year out in from Hollywood. The Sam Raimi version is easily one of my favorite adaptations of the character, and while it didn't end on such a high note thanks to the shenanigans of Spider-Man 3, it still resonates with audiences who took to seeing Peter Parker's story told in the big screen. Flashforward to present day, and now we have 500 Days of Summer director Marc Webb's treatment of the webslinger's tale with "The Amazing Spider-Man". Taking its title directly from the first ongoing comic book series of the same name, it's literally a bold and modern new take for Spider-Man and his world. It's darker, emotional, and full of intensity and action that will give fans and audiences something new to talk about. The big question is: how does it stand up to its predecessor and the Spider-Man legacy? We'll find out in this review, as well as analyze how the film works up to bringing the concept of the character to a new generation. Thanks again goes to Sony Pictures, Marvel, and Columbia Pictures Philippines for the film viewing.

SPOILERS HERE, so if you have yet to watch the film, don't read this.

The first and simple question needed to be answered is this: Why the reboot? It's moot at this point now to ask why it was necessary for the Spider-Man franchise, but it was delivered at a time where renewed interest came to the Marvel Universe and its characters after the Marvel Cinematic Universe delivered awesomeness in the form of The Avengers. The recently released   superhero flick raked in the big ones, and featured the big guns like Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, and the Hulk fighting bad guys and taking names. While not much of a team player himself, Spider-Man recently joined the Avengers in comic continuity, and sees himself among the most beloved members of Earth's Mightiest Heroes. While it is still under Sony Pictures, the reboot of the Spider-Man franchise could be a way to "feel through" and get to seeing that dream come true someday. That however is a subject best reserved for another time.

Movie: The Amazing Spider-Man
Starring: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans, Martin Sheen, Sally Field, Denis Leary
Release Date: June 29 , 2012 (RP), July 3, 2012 (US)

Arguably, the true reason for making a new Spider-Man film franchise is working towards a new direction after the conclusion of the last film under Sam Raimi's direction, which ended up being too cluttered and filled with jargon that's a good enough of a reason to "wipe the slate clean". The first two films of Raimi's Spider-Man trilogy were heartfelt works of art that spoke true to the character's nature, and came from a visionary who understood the character and what defined him as a hero. For the time it was made and set in, it was revolutionary. Now, we come hot on the heels of a new interpretation of Peter Parker, one living in a universe that is understandably more darker and filled with the kind of dangers and situations we face today in life. Tobey Maguire is Spider-Man no more. Say hello to Andrew Garfield.

On all accounts, The Amazing Spider-Man is a great film to take a better look at the world of Peter Parker - his dilemma, his conflicts, and his moral obligation to do what he does best while living out his uncle's creed of "With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility". Garfield representation of Peter is the stereotypical outsider and loner; A certifiable nerd genius who tries to find importance in his life by searching for his identity in society. Left behind by his parents at a young age, Peter was raised by his Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) and Aunt May (Sally Field), who were good surrogates that the boy very much needed in his life. All the elements that made up the Peter Parker in high school speak highly in TASM, from being a photographer for the school to getting bullied by Flash Thompson (Chris Zylka) and his posse. Peter was a natural introvert who kept to himself, but adding new dynamic to this version of the character was that he was a thrill seeker. He loved to skateboard and bend the rules, and he was a certifiable tech-wiz, one who'd use his genius and the power of the internet to his advantage later on in the film. 

The Amazing Spider-Man Trailer

After finding evidence that could link him to the whereabouts of his father Richard Parker, Peter makes his way to OsCorp and to the life of Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans) - a brilliant scientist who once worked with the elder parker and tries to revolutionize science by regrowing lost limbs and tissue. It is Peter's search for his dad that ultimately leads him down the journey to become Spider-Man, and once the genetically altered spider gives him that bite and tragedy strikes in his life, his world is changed forever. Taking responsibility and using his own ingenuity, he becomes Spider-Man, and wears a mask to fight and safe guard his secret from his loved ones, including love interest and high school classmate Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone). When Dr. Connors' experiments go out of control and he becomes The Lizard, Peter must reconcile any conflicts within himself to protect the city and become the hero he was destined to be.

So the true test of the Peter Parker/ Spider-Man character is conflict - both figuratively and literally. The Amazing Spider-Man helps to demonstrate that approach by interpreting Peter Parker as your average modern day Teenager who has to come to gripes with all the conflict, tragedy, and emotional turmoil he experiences in order to be the heroic, caring, and friendly neighborhood Spider-Man we all know and love in the comics. I  will say for the most part that unlike the Tobey Maguire version of Spider-Man that borders on wooing his situation and conflicts time and day, Garfield's interpretation is a well-balanced sort that doesn't hinge on being too wild or spectacular all the time throughout the course of the film. His Spider-Man is just starting out, and the new costume for the film (which nods to the 90's Ben Reilly character) reflects his new and early beginnings that compensate for the new reboot's style and direction. Besides the spandex returning, the film's introduction of the non-organic webshooters is a big plus, and it plays well into showing Peter has a brilliant mind besides crimefighting like a badass. In fact, I'm surprised the character only cracks a joke or two in a few action scenes, but overall the build up to becoming who he is pretty much pays off as the movie plays out. 

Focusing on the other characters, Emma Stone plays a pretty good love interest in the form of Gwen Stacy. It's a refreshing new take and wonder to see a love interest who isn't just your girl-next-door or "damsel in distress", but an equal and foil to Peter who genuinely cares and is willing to make sure the guy doesn't get lost. She does what she has to do, and it makes her character stand out as strong and independent, despite being the daughter of New York Police Captain George Stacy (Denis Leary). Rhys Ifans lends another angle of conflict and turmoil in his interpretation of Dr. Curt Connors/ The Lizard, and while I find his character sympathetic, the creature he turns into is a hulking mass full of evil intentions. Even though he's built to be a CG badass, this Lizard doesn't quite take me as intimidating, and I still defer to the look of the character in the comics. Ifans played the part well enough, and adds a layer of responsibility that Spider-Man must deal with. For other supporting roles, it's good to see Martin Sheen, Sally Field, and Denis Leary play parental roles that give Peter Parker support and patience. His life of Spider-Man is hard enough, but it's those who love him closest in life that ground him.

The Amazing Spider-Man International Trailer

I suppose the real star of The Amazing Spider-Man will always be Spider-Man himself, and there's tons of action and fight scenes to behold thanks to the wonders and improvements of technology today. Watching this in 3D or IMAX 3D will give you the benefits of that experience, but 2D isn't so bad either if you want to experience Spider-Man and his death-defying moves in a grander scale. It's naturally fluid and full of gymnastic stunts and maneuvers that will surely keep audiences fascinated and glued to their seats. The only thing I wonder sometimes is why doesn't he run out of web fluid? Now that he's actually developed webshooters, doesn't he use cartridges to refill them? The use of the device is very Iron Man dependent now that it has a supply source, but I do enjoy how he uses it in unique and creative ways through the course of the film. While it's off to a slow start, this Spider-Man is well into his beginnings the right way, full of style and flair.

So bottomline, is The Amazing Spider-Man good? Definitely. It's required viewing by any Spider-Man fan, but it doesn't overshadow the significance the Sam Raimi Spider-Man films have played out in the last decade. The reboot has a very Batman Begins feel to it, but it goes off into its own pace and may be a little bit dark and too serious for young kids to truly appreciate. Fun and wacky also play into the appreciation for the Spider-Man character, and this franchise still needs to balance things out, hopefully in the inevitable sequels. Grounding Spider-Man is one thing, but making him a little too dark and emo will alienate some audiences. It's a fine and unique new look for Peter Parker, but once he gets older he'll hopefully become the Spider-Man we all know and love. a good and well done effort by Marc Webb, Andrew Garfield, and Emma Stone. Say hello again to this generation's Spider-Man.

Rating - 4/5

*Originally Posted by Timzster in The Crusader's Corner and Timzster

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