Friday, July 13, 2012


Having finally managed to catch the latest Spidey reboot in 3-D this week, I'm pleased to tell you that it's pretty good! It is what you might call 'Spider-Man Begins', another origins story that takes us through the ringer of the classic tale of a boy, and a girl, and his uncle, and a giant lizard. I initially felt uneasy about the film the moment it was announced. After all we only just had the very recent three adventures of Spider-Man by Sam Raimi... So the subsequent falling out between him and Sony over Spider-Man 3 combined with the troubled development of a 4th entry which forced Raimi and the cast to split all seemed like Sony's rush to reboot the series was a desperate plan in order to maintain the rights to Marvel's most popular character. Thus it could've gone so so wrong and been so so unnecessary... But thankfully, director Marc Webb has managed to hit this out of the park, and all for the better! Read on to learn why!

Some of you may still be overdosed off the Avengers, which is a tough act to follow... I should warn you that the new Spider-Man doesn't have the epic scope to match it. So one should go into this with the expectation that this isn't going to be anywhere as exciting as Avengers was... Which is not to say it isn't good, it is! It's just a more humble affair... You could however compare it to 'Batman Begins', where instead of following Bruce Wayne, we instead follow Peter Parker. We follow them from glimpses at their childhood, their relationship with their mother and father, and the tragedy that follows where leaving them orphaned, they are adopted and raised by other caring people who are like family. In Peter's case, however, we don't know the fate of his parents. They disappeared and are presumed dead. Peter isn't out for vengeance, he continues to live normally, albeit as someone who misses his father and is plagued by the questions surrounding his father's absence. Peter's father was a scientist researching spiders and working on cross-species genetics, ways to combine the DNA of different species of animals such that one could engineer positive traits from one to another. One of his father's colleagues, Dr. Curt Conners, a man who'd lost his right arm, is still working on carrying on his father's work. So Peter sets out to learn about what his father was working on as a way of getting closer to knowing him. This sets off a chain of events where Peter breaks into a  restricted area and gets bitten by a particular experimental, possibly even radioactive, spider that bequeaths unto him superpowers that let him cling to objects, give him super strength and a heightened awareness, agility and speed. What follows next are lessons for our young protagonist where he learns to use his power, and the hard lessons of what it means to be responsible with the gifts that are given to you.

One thing I have to say, and I doubt I'm spoiling anything here for those of you familiar with Spider-Man, is that the entirety of the moments leading up to the death of Ben Parker, Peter's Uncle, and the whole power and responsibility spiel, is that what could've just been another corny rehash of the same old story is far more natural and unique here! Spider-Man's origin story in this film is far more realistic and sincere in its development than it ever was in the previous films or even in many of the comics I've read it retold in. In fact I could outright just say this is perhaps the best defining origins tale of the character I've personally seen! The relationships between all the characters feel real and intimately genuine with real weight and motivation! Even the romance between Gwen Stacy and Parker is a real highlight and their on-screen charisma really clicks! The film doesn't just leap into the action and spectacle right away... it's all slowly builds up to it. For awhile you might be left wondering when Spider-Man will finally show up, but its never dull thanks to the down-to-earth drama which is neither too light nor too heavy, but precisely hitting the tone it needs to be. The tale feels very different while still maintaining everything we love about the origin story in both scenes, sequence of events and dialogue. This is mighty hard to pull off! But they did!

Action fans need not worry, because Spider-Man does eventually show up, and there's plenty of him to go around! The coolest thing about this film is the general reliance on actual stunts and parkour for the majority of it that makes Spidey's movements more realistic and believable. There will be obvious moments when you'll know they're now using a CG Spider-Man versus an agile man in suit based on the way Spidey will move, but for the most part everything works here! There is some great choreography and action sequences throughout the film, and efforts have been taken to make Spider-Man feel as grounded and realistic as possible when he fights. Spider-Man's webbing here should also be mentioned. It's no longer organic like in Raimi's films, Peter makes use of one of his Father's and subsequently Oscorp's tensile strength material based on the webbing of actual spiders, and he builds web shooters for himself which are way cool! I haven't gone to the toy store lately but I'm sure these are a hot product somewhere. If they aren't, then Toys'R'Us isn't doing its job knocking on Mattell's doors to make these.

 Of course, much needs to be said about the villain here, and it's Dr. Curt Conners who inevitably becomes the creature known as the Lizard. I don't like the overall design for the Lizard that much, he definitely needs that snout instead of a more human face... But it's a small complaint. Overall, the character is represented very faithfully with the whole Jekyll and Hyde aspect intact. Other obstacles to Spider-Man are the police who distrust him led by Gwen's father Captain Stacy. Not to mention scenes of Spider-Man taking on criminals are also moments of hilarity. This is the wise cracking super-confident Spider-Man fans have been hoping for!

Amazing Spider-Man is a great film with plenty to love! Spidey as a character is neither a character of pure light and righteousness like say Superman, nor is he dark, brooding and tragic like Batman. He runs the spectrum of dark and light; sorrow and joy; tragedy, comedy and triumph! Which is what has made the character so enduring and versatile. Unlike Bruce Wayne, Peter Parker never lets the darkness of obsession swallow him. He is a character full of hope who will again and again have to face more tragedy and loss, and those who know the plot of the comics will foresee what's in store for young Parker even as the film closes on a thread of optimism.

There are some minor moments I could complain about, such as a Deus-ex-machina like moment where we get to see the good citizens of New York work together to help Spidey out that all feels somewhat forced... Some fans may also not like the outcome of certain supporting characters or portrayals of others. And the end of the movie might feel a little too familiar in ways to the first film by Raimi. But it's hardly anything that will hinder your enjoyment of the film, or the hopes for what is to come in a sequel. There is a quick and vague scene you might want to stick around for mid-way through the credits... As for the use of 3-D... the film, despite being shot in 3-D, didn't really seem to be making much significant use of it... It's all very toned down, which might sound good to some of you. However, I didn't feel there was much benefit to it, and you'd have imagined there would be... what with Spider-Man swinging around and stuff, and there are certainly some cool 3-D moments but these are few and far between... Certainly it was very comfortable viewing, and I certainly would still recommend watching it in 3-D! But if for some reason you're unable to get a 3-D showing, I wouldn't worry about missing out on much...

One last thing I want to mention is that I, like many others, have been eager to have Sony and Marvel somehow working together to bring Spider-Man into the Avengers universe... But after seeing this film, now I'm not so sure... In fact, I now believe it'd be more beneficial for this Spider-Man reboot to remain its own thing and set apart from the craziness present in the Avengers. It's sort of the same way I'd feel about having Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy suddenly get shoehorned from its setting into a Justice League film where Superman and Green Lantern exist... It just wouldn't fit in my opinion... Now certainly Spider-Man, being the fantastical super hero guy that he is, will have an easier time adjusting to the Avengers, than would the realism of Nolan's Batman fitting into the fantastical world of Justice League. I like the way Nolan handles Batman in a way that I would've wanted Nolan to keep his Batman separate and just doing its own thing. Coming out from Amazing Spider-Man, I felt the same way... That this Spider-Man needs to have time to himself... Time to grow and to explore his own more personal endeavors and his own relationships while getting through school life. All without having Samuel L. Jackson show up out of nowhere, his eye patch twitching yelling, "Parker! What are you doing?! I told you to get on that plane an hour ago! Stark and the Cap need you! There's hyper-dimensional aliens destroying France led by some crazy Titan and his sparkly gauntlet! No, there's no time to fill you in on the details now! Hop on Thor's back and he'll fly you there while telling you what's up! Don't make me say it again! Say what?! Say 'What' again! I dare you!"

Amazing Spider-Man is great! You got your action. You got your romance. You got your tragedy. You got your humor. You even got lots of little homages to classic Spidey stuff. It has Bollywood actor Irfan Khan. And Stan Lee also shows up! Its got lots of everything you might want and tastes good after blending it all together too. What could've been an unnecessary move by Sony Pictures could now have the potential to be an amazing set of films all on its own! I can't wait for the next one!