Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Did It Need to Be Made? No, But We're Glad They Did!: Our Review of "The Amazing Spider-Man" (2012)


Directed By: Marc Webb ((500) Days of Summer)

Starring: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Denis Leary, Rhys Ifans

Rating: PG-13 for sequences of action and violence

Synopsis: Raised by his Uncle Ben and Aunt May after his parents die in a plane crash, Peter Parker (Garfield) grows up to be a bit of an outsider but is also very bright. Finding his father’s old briefcase leads him to Dr. Curt Connors (Ifans) at Oscorp, where Peter is bitten by a spider that gives him incredible superhuman abilities. When an experiment Connors performs on himself turns him into The Lizard, Peter must balance stopping Connors and his fledgling romance with the beautiful Gwen Stacy (Stone).

REVIEW

Andrew: Hello readers! Sarah and I just got out of seeing Marc Webb’s reboot of Marvel’s Spider-Man franchise, The Amazing Spider-Man, starring Andrew Garfield (The Social Network) as Peter Parker/Spider-Man.

Sarah, this is another film we haven’t had a chance to preview since it came out on a Tuesday (thanks to the Fourth of July being on a Wednesday), but it’s certainly a film we’ve been looking forward to. That said, it’s only been 10 years since Sam Raimi’s original Spider-Man starring Tobey Maguire. What did you think of this reboot of a film franchise that’s really not that old?

Sarah: I liked it! I thought it did a really good job of being a good origin story. It stuck pretty true to the comic-book version of Spider-Man’s origin, whereas Raimi’s took a couple of liberties. It was obviously a lot grander in terms of scenery because of the 3D, which were pretty good for the most part.

But I liked it. It was a fun movie, like all the other recent Marvel movies we’ve come to know and love. So this one fits well with the rest of the Marvel film family that is out right now. What did you think?

A: I don’t want to compare it to the original too much, so based on its own merits I thoroughly enjoyed The Amazing Spider-Man primarily because of Andrew Garfield. I thought he was an inspired casting choice to play Peter Parker/Spider-Man. Garfield is actually 28 years old but he looks, sounds and acts just like a teenager should.

We think Andrew Garfield was the perfect choice to play the high-school version of Peter Parker. Even at 28 he looks more like a teenager than Tobey Maguire ever did.

And yes, this is very similar to Raimi’s original because they’re both telling the origin story, but other than adding in Peter’s parents…I liked that they kept him as a teenager in high school, because he is in the comics a lot, too. He’s always been a wise-cracker and they nailed that aspect.

S: He’s also a bit of a misfit in this one.

A: Yeah, he’s a social misfit. On the same token as Garfield, I thought Emma Stone (The Help) was perfect casting as Gwen Stacy. The two of them have a chemistry that you can only HOPE your two love interests will have.

S: Oh absolutely!

A: So that brought a lot to this film. I’m glad Webb focused a lot of the film on their relationship and on parts where Peter isn’t in costume, where he’s piecing together the mystery of his father and BECOMING Spider-Man. It was very similar, to me, to Batman Begins because in that film it takes a while before Bruce Wayne actually gets into his full costume. There’s even a point where Bruce goes out with a rough draft of his costume and sort of has a soft open, and there’s stuff like that here, too. Where Peter has the beginnings of his costume but not much else.

S: Yeah I liked the costume. I liked this film’s Spider-Man costume WAY more than the original. It doesn’t look so cartoony up close. I hate to compare them but with things like that you kinda have to compare. I thought it looked sleek and I thought it was funny that Peter makes fun of how he’s in spandex.

A: Also, I like that he creates his web-shooters in this one. In Raimi’s they made Peter’s webbing come right out of his body organically, which bothered me. Webb’s stays true to the comic books.

S: I liked the 3D. There were times it looked a little too computer generated, which is expected sometimes. You can’t have a stunt guy do ALL those stunts without some CGI.

A: It was particularly cool when Spidey is swinging through the city and they show his point-of-view. The 3D as a whole wasn’t as good as in Prometheus, but it’s still worth it to see it in 3D. I’m sure it looks just fine in 2D, though.

What did you think of the villain, Dr. Connors a.k.a. The Lizard?

The Lizard looks pretty sweet and is a formidable foe for Peter, but his character arc left Andrew wanting more.

S: I thought the makeup done by Ve Neill was excellent. We like Neill because she’s a judge on one of our favorite shows, the SyFy reality show Face Off, and her work on Rhys Ifans (Notting Hill) was fantastic. The CGI used when The Lizard is fully changed was really cool. I think it would have looked ridiculous if it would have always been Ifans in make-up, but when he’s the full-blown Lizard the CGI was a good example of the motion-capture they use today.

When it was Ifans and they had prosthetics on him it looked great, too, but I didn’t mind the CGI either. I liked that The Lizard spoke. It caught me off guard…

A: Well he speaks in the comics.

S: Yeah, so I appreciated that. Did you like the villain?

A: I was left wanting more.

S: I think that says more to the character than it does to the physical bad guy.

A: Physically he looked great and he was finally an imposing to fight against Spidey. He was teased at in Raimi’s trilogy, so it was nice to finally get him in a film. But they worked him into Peter’s backstory and…I don’t know, it just left me wanting more.

S: I would say that wasn’t fully fleshed out, yeah. In fact they hint at the end that there’s going to be more to that story in the sequel. The Lizard didn’t have a malicious side, truly. He was just this crippled guy who wanted to get his arm back. And then he’s forced by Oscorp to rush the experiment and test it on humans, so he does it to himself and he snaps, so he’s more of a sympathetic character.

A: I didn’t hate him. He’s a much better villain than all the other Spider-Man film villains other than Doctor Octopus. So he was fine, I just think I would have been ok if the film focused more on Peter and Gwen’s relationship. I thought that was the stronger part of the movie.

A couple other quick points: there weren’t a boatload of action scenes, so when they hit they had more impact; Martin Sheen and Sally Field were perfect as Uncle Ben and Aunt May, as was Denis Leary as Captain Stacy; and I wasn’t enamored with James Horner’s score.

Rose and Jack, or Gwen and Peter? Seriously, there are times you wonder if the theatre swapped out the score for Titanic's

S: Yeah, it reflected a LOT of his Titanic score. There were times when he blatantly cribbed from Titanic. Then there were other times the music didn’t necessarily fit what was going on.

A: It wasn’t as good as Danny Elfman’s score in Raimi’s trilogy. And I suppose I have to compare it to John Williams’ Superman score and the scores Elfman and Hans Zimmer have done for their Batman films. It wasn’t nearly as good as those. You want a superhero score to be iconic like the above examples, and this one wasn’t.

S: You want it to be able to hear just a snippet of it and be able to instantly recognize what it belongs to.

A: And if you heard this one you would’ve thought it was Titanic.

S: The movie was a little slow at times, but you get that with an origin story sometimes because it has to build. I definitely think it’s one you have to see on the big screen.

A: I think this is one we’ll own someday.

S: And probably more from the standpoint that we like all the Marvel movies they’ve been making lately…

A: Well I also really liked Garfield and Stone’s performances. If anything, I’d say see this one in theatres because of those two.

(Out of Five Clapboards)
Photo Courtesies: Shockya, Flicks and Bits,  The Sun

2 comments:

  1. Very good review. I think this is the first time I've comment on here, but I have read a handful of your guys' stuff. I love the layout and the method of your reviews, it's much more of a conversation than it is paragraph after paragraph (boring, like mine! lol).

    I have read a ton of reviews of the film and you two were some of the only people to mention Horner's score. It's a shame it wasn't as epic or memorable as other superhero movies but it still did a decent job. One thing I've pointed out in my review (http://www.cinekatz.com/2012/07/july-6-amazing-spider-man.html) is that the use of the soundtrack to full effect was much more powerful than the score itself. Unlike the other Spidery movies, where each soundtrack had about 10 different songs, Amazing Spidey only used a couple. My favorite was the use of Til Kingdom Come by Coldplay, as Peter's discovering his powers and his relationship with Gwen begins to blossom.

    Overall, I really enjoyed the film and can't wait to see where the franchise is going. Garfield and Stone really made the movie their own and you're right, it's worth seeing for them alone.

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  2. Thank you for your comment, Nick! You make an excellent point about the songs they use in the soundtrack. As a whole it just didn't do a lot for us in this version of Spider-Man.

    We even caught Spider-Man 2 on FX the day after we posted our review and it helped us remember that while Elfman's scores weren't amazing, they were recognizable as being from that trilogy. Horner's score won't do that.

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