Monday, 23 July 2012

The Amazing Spiderman review


Since the time of Shakespeare it has been believed that there are only a mere five stories in literature, it would appear that this same rule applies to films, well to more precise Hollywood films. This is no more apparent than in the recent re imagining of the Spiderman story. It has only been a decade since Sam Raimi adapted the story of Spiderman from the comic book to the multiplex. Yet this would appear, at least by Sony, to be an appropriate amount of time to reimagine the story of one of Marvel’s oldest superhero. 

This time (500) days of Summer director Marc Webb is behind the camera to helm the production. When first chosen to direct the comic book adaptation many questioned Webb’s ability to handle the larger set pieces required to make the Spiderman come to life. Yet what Webb has managed to create on screen works as a graduation in Hollywood film making with some inspiring set pieces, most specific the climax which is an array of brilliant stunts and colourful CGI.

In Raimi’s 2002 origins film, Tobey Maguire played the heroic yet emotionally flawed protagonist. But despite Raimi’s critical success the casting of Maguire was pure and simply wrong, the humour was lost with Maguire and it was difficult to accept as the character comic book fans grew to love. But Webb successfully succeeds Raimi’s failure in casting by opting for British actor Andrew Garfield. Garfield is the key ingredient in a recipe that most believed would crumble, his portrayal of Parker eclipses that of Maguire with a near perfect reflection from the comic. As Spiderman Garfield’s sarcasm and humour creates a light-hearted centre to a darker take then Raimi. But the role is far more then humour as we see in an argument between Peter and uncle Ben in which Garfield’s emotional muscles are flexed and creates a real eruption of emotion within the audience. Though there are limits to Garfield’s Parker. When we first encounter him in school he is bullied and victimised yet its difficult to accept that Parker is uncool. Especially in a new world to when Stan Lee create Spiderman in the 1960s and Raimi adapted in 2002, now the nerd in the school class are the Mark Zuckerbergs of the world, running billion dollar companies with millions of users from behind their laptops. So Garfield’s post-Facebook Parker’s authenticity is questionable but maybe the world has moved on from such stereotypes.  
Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy
Although at a rather staggering length of two hours and 16 minutes the story in places seems rushed in its preparation. This is evident in the transformation of Rhys Ifans’ Dr Kurt Connors, who through genetic manipulation attempts to regrow his arm yet this process goes catastrophically wrong. Instead of growing an arm Connors genetic manipulation transform him in to a monster lizard, imagine a scaled Mr Hyde if you will. Yet the transformation of Connors from good willed scientist to crazed monster happens too quickly. Furthermore Webb’s villain has unexamined potential. Raimi’s villains, Green Goblin and Dr. Octopus, were character studies that had detailed depths enhancing the story and creating emotional attachment to Parker. But Webb’s exploration into the character of Connors lacks the attachment and detail of Raimi, thus causing the lizard foe to have a rather two dimensional character in a three dimensional film. As well the emotional link between Parker and Connors could have been strengthened with more of a study but this leads to my other problem with the film. Many storylines that are examined by Webb are left dangling and unanswered. Most noticeable is the story of Parker’s parents which is the main story arc of the film yet after over two hours we are left with more questions than we started with.  Though this is could be the main construction piece for the trilogy as the after credits scene suggests.
Garfield's more convincing Spiderman

Despite these hick ups in the story Webb’s film does deserve applaud especially in the construction of the romance between Peter Parker and his first love Gwen Stacy played by Emma Stone. The relationship that blossoms in front of the camera is a wonder to behold, with both perfectly capturing the awkwardness of teenage love. What is the real ingredient to this chemistry is the casting of Emma stone. Unlike Kirsten Dunst’s Mary Jane, Stone’s Stacy is Parker’s intellectual equal who contains a strong feminist stance against the authority of both her Policeman father and Parker’s Spiderman.  
Its undeniable that Amazing will be compared to Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins but it may seem like an awkward and unrewarded comparison. Nolan’s origin film from 2005 worked as a yard stick for any other start up superhero film, with its realistic plots and intelligent story telling. But Batman Begins and its sequel The Dark Knight work as exceptional pieces of film making but Webb’ s Amazing is a perfect, epic comic book adaptation perfecting aspects that many directors such as Ang Lee and Daredevil’s Mark Steven Johnson failed to accomplish. For me The Amazing Spiderman was thoroughly enjoyable but holes in the story and character construction are clear, yet Webb’s direction works as a brilliant distraction.
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Verdict: Whether Webb tells the untold story or not, it is still thoroughly enjoyable with well placed humour and spectacular CGI set pieces. As long as you don't compare it to Nolan's begins, Amazing will be a pleasure to watch.

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