Wednesday, July 04, 2012

The Amazing Spiderman

      A very entertaining but totally unnecessary reboot of the Spiderman franchise. Toby Maguire wore the suit 10 years ago and made a terrific Spiderman. The series lost steam with the forgettable Spiderman 3 but Sony and Columbia have found a way to keep this cash cow alive by starting fresh with a new cast, new villain and tweaks to the origin story.

      For those familiar with the comic, the earlier films or even the Broadway play, the first hour drags on as these fans (including myself) know Spiderman's origin by heart. Neither this version or the earlier film completely get it right, changing certain events to suit the script. Maybe the 3rd reboot in the next decade will finally get it right. Now there's an idea, a new Spiderman for each generation.

      What works very well here is the great chemistry between Andrew Garfield's "Peter Parker/Spiderman" and Emma Stone's "Gwen Stacy. Unlike Mary Jane Watson in the original, Gwen Stacy was Peter's real first love. It's refreshing that the writers acknowledge that. Mr. Garfield makes a very credible teen superhero and the film spends a great deal of time on the human element and not just CGI and special effects. A nice touch (true to the original) are the mechanical web shooters and not organic webs.

            There is a great deal of early bonding between Mr. Garfield and his Aunt May (Sally Field) and Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen).  Rhys Ifans brings gravitas to the tortured Dr. Curt Conners /Lizard and Denis Leary plays it straight as Police Captain Stacy (Gwen's father). One character I really missed was J.J. Jameson, the cigar chomping editor of The Daily Bugle and Spiderman's biggest critic. Mr. Leary's "Captain Stacy" is given that role here and without J.J. Jameson, there's a gaping hole in the Spiderman universe.

           Once the menace of "The Lizard" is introduced, the action is pretty much non-stop and there are some great fight sequences and wonderful web swinging through Manhattan.  The camera work, in particular, is wonderful with unusual angles and beautiful wide shots of New York City as a backdrop. The film makers are obviously proud of their work as they include two long scenes of web swinging that are pretty amazing and really "pop" in 3-D. I didn't see the IMAX version but I would imagine that one sends audiences out dizzy from the effects.

            If you were completely satisfied with Mr. Maguire performance and Sam Raimi's direction ten years ago, there is really no need to sit through this new version unless you are a huge fan of Andrew Garfield. If you've been living in the dark for the last ten years and never saw the earlier versions, this one will be a thrill ride.

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