AKA: The Amazing Spider-Man in 3D (2012) - 3D Title
(I mean... obviously, man!)
AKA: Untitled Spider-Man Reboot (2012) - Working Title
AKA: Spider-Man 4: The Amazing Spider-Man (2012) - Working Title
AKA: Spider-Man 4 (2012) - Working Title
AKA: Fiona's Tale (2012) - Fake Working Title
AKA: Cudesni Spajdermen (2012) - Croatian Title
AKA: El sorprendente hombre araĖa (2012) - Spanish Title
(PremiŤre Date: June 13, 2012 (Tokyo, Japan)
(USA Release Date: July 03, 2012)
Case in point... I ordered an absolutely vital piece of software from Amazon, two day shipping... I needed it Monday and it arrived Monday. My landlady decided to do me the "courtesy" of signing for it and keeping it in the locked office... for me. This is in spite of the fact that all other packages (including the expensive computer the stupid software was purchased to run on) were left on my doorstep safely with no trouble. So, I left a note and called saying I needed it right away, but apparently they were too busy at their other properties to come in on Tuesday. And Wednesday is the July 4th Holiday... meaning I'm off work and could be video editing all day long before a single firework hit the dark curtain of night... but they're off too and why should they give a rancid fig. Folks, this is every bit as much of a "courtesy" as those people in the mall who fan out in groups and walk at 0.00000000000003146 miles per hour just to make sure you do your movie the "courtesy" of being late for it. This makes no damned sense.
Another thing? My dog! No matter how much I've tried to train him, no matter how many times he's been told no, no matter how obviously close a friend I'm with, Jack thinks he needs to "Protect" my ass. He weighs 11 pounds and he's evil. So, any time any other human being, dog, cat, bicycle, inanimate object is anywhere within leash distance, Jack tries to bite... whatever that thing is. Seriously! Bite! The little monster is an adult dog and he still can't figure out that every time he gets aggressive he gets yelled at and muzzled? Yet I'll drop him off at Doggy Day Care and I'll be damned if he isn't their favorite dog. Other dogs, employees, total strangers... everyone loves him when I'm not around because he's never agressive. And this isn't anecdotal... They have a webcam... I am witness to this crap. Then the moment I go to pick him up, we get over the threshold and Jack tries to bite my good buddy and my buddy's dog whom Jack spent the last 8 hours being best buddies with. This makes NO DAMNED SENSE!!!
The Amazing Spider-Man, on the other hand? Yes, this movie makes sense. I remember being in a theater the first time a friend saw the teaser and she said "What the hell? Why don't they make something new?" Fair question! Why all these reboots that start out as sequels (the original working title of this film was, in fact, Spider-Man 4)? The obvious answer is "Money" (though this isn't always a safe bet... note the crap-splash waste of time known as Punisher: War Zone), but it's not that simple. Comic Book movies are only making so much money now because we, the audience, actually want to see them. This is because, yeah, they're usually pretty damned good!
Still in a recent interview with one of the stars of this film (for PopMatters.com), I asked one of the stars of this film if it was too soon for a reboot (in that the previous film in the series, Spider-Man 3 was released only five years ago). His answer was that this was, in fact, something totally new, it's a familiar story told in a completely new way. And that... makes sense.
And, for the most part, this is true. The story by James Vanderbilt (who wrote the screenplay with Alvin Sargent and Steve Kloves), while having its roots in the stories (and foreshadowing) of Spider-Man 2 and Spider-Man 3 (both also co-written by Sargent), actually takes the character of Spider-Man back to his roots in the Silver Age Marvel Comic books.
And who did they hire to direct this incredible new evolution of the most famed and successful collaboration of Masters Stan Lee and Steve Ditko (with undeniable contributions from Jack Kirby)? Who is directing this back-to-the-beginning tale of the wall-crawler, web-slinger, crime-fighter? Why Marc Webb, of course! The director of the comedy/ drama/ romance (500) Days of Summer. He also directed some music videos, an episode of The Office and the pilot for Lone Star, which was cancelled slightly over one week after that pilot aired. So, what, did he get this blockbuster gig because his last name was Webb? But I kid Marc Webb. The man does a great job stepping up to the gridded-page here and he brings forth a canny and interesting evolutionary story of Spider-Man's high school years that feels so legitimately engrossing that it almost seems weird when CGI takes over the screen and we kick into Operation: Popcorn/ Action!
Our man Peter Parker, the man behind the red-webbed mask, is brought to us by Andrew Garfield. Garfield's skateboarding Parker is a sensitive and sincere young man with a cool, creative and troubled side (not to mention one hell of a respectable coif that I can scarcely believe fits under that tight mask). So cool and sexy is this teenaged Peter Parker (played by an actor pushing thirty) that it's immediately believable that he might end up as the dashing boyfriend of miss Gwen Stacy (played by Emma Stone who, in most movies, is a dead ringer for Spidey gal-pal Mary Jane Watson). Stone's Gwen is straight out of the comics, mini-skirts, pony tails and all, but the nerdiness that we found in the Peter of comics (and even the previous Spider-Man trilogy) is almost entirely absent from this film. When Peter is finally bitten by the radioactive spider, re-telling that story, he immediately gets his powers, but doesn't seem particularly cooler than he already was. It's like he was a vampire from Twilight, mixed with the brain of Will Hunting and a totally Hot Topic wardrobe before he's bitten. After the bite he's like a Vampire from Twilight mixed with the brain of Will Hunting and a newly-knitted spandex wardrobe.
Gwen and Peter's connection (besides an uncomfortable relationship with Chris Zylka's Flash Thompson) is their love for science and their friendship with one-armed super-scientist Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans).
The cast and crew (much of which is made up of the same gang who brought us the previous trilogy) does an exciting job of bringing us a new angle on this story, covering, obviously and irresistibly, many of the same plot points that popped up in on film ten years ago (and most every Spidey adaptation since his first appearance). That first appearance, by the way, was in 1962's Amazing Fantasy #15... a year and a half before The Beatles appeared on Ed Sullivan's "really big shew", so naturally the burden of relevance falls squarely on the shoulders of the new film. However, while remaining mostly true to the character's origins, The Amazing Spider-Man does bring us a very modern tale where Peter uses a smart phone to communicate (even when masked), does his research over the world wide web and shoots out almost as many text messages as he does web-lines (all on clearly branded Sony products, of course, so that the evil overlords of Columbia Pictures can keep laughing all the way to the Yen Vault).
Speaking of which, back are the Parker-invented web-shooters (instead of the Raimi-added web glands) in a refreshing and believable return to form. The costume, inspired by many years of varied spider-suits, from Peter's original to the Ben Reilly variation, looks incredible on screen. It brings back the black webbing (dispensing with the silver of the previous series) and somehow manages to look more realistic with wrinkles and tears, like we might see in real life (but without falling into lame-ass Comic Con knock-off territory).
The supporting cast is, dare I say it, pretty amazing. While it's strange to see Sally Field as old enough to play Peter's white-haired Aunt May, she steps into the role very well, as does her altruistic and idealistic counterpart, Martin Sheen's Uncle Ben! We also get Peter's parents (as played by sexy Embeth Davitz and Campbell Scott, in flashback, providing additional role models and plot points as the tale progresses. Dennis Leary steps to the plate as Gwen's dad Captain George Stacy of the NYPD, while the mysterious Irrfan Khan shows up as Rajit Ratha, the right hand man to the (not pictured) Norman Osborn. All that, plus small but vital roles for such noteworthy actors as Michael Massee, Leif Gantvoort, C. Thomas Howell and, yes, of course, Stan Lee in his pre-requisite cameo. What becomes of all of these characters when our main, big, bad villain THE LIZARD comes to town is anybody's guess.
The Amazing Spider-Man shines like the top of Oscorp Tower in the acting category. Virtually every actor gives a fantastic performance that fails to exactly "stand out" because everybody else is that good, too. Garfield is believable as the learning hero, filled with wonder and wisecracks (if never quite the lowly nerd of that age of the comics) and Emma Stone is beautiful and a complete class act.
Where the film swings short of the ledge, is in the occasional plot contrivance, diminished plot point, credibility stretch and disappearing character. The film has a fine narrative flow but occasionally has the feel of unconnected vignettes webbed together, usually in a sensible order. Webb and company do a fine job of distracting us from these thinner moments with cool special effects and a fast-paced plot, but upon retrospect the old logic adding-machine starts smoking and melting as we keep going back over and over the holes Webb doles. A lot of the time it seems that the new film sets itself apart from the previous series by breaking new ground while a much of the rest of the time it seems that they avoid explaining things that the previous films got into as if the audience should know it already. Sure, this may be the case, but this is a new, stand-alone film, not a remake or a sequel. Weave it into the tale or it's still an unknown for some!
Still, it's not hard to get swept away in Webb's web, especially when he balances the new with the known. The special effects are brilliant and a treat for the eyes. Gone are the rubbery Spidey CGI of the previous films and the overly-slick animation mixed with reality. Here there are more moments of well-blended special effects than most big-budget films of today and even the Motion-Capture Lizard manages to be a visual success in most every area.
And, hey, comparisons to the previous series that started in 2002 are inevitable because, The Amazing Spider-Man not only started pre-production as a sequel to that series but still retains many of the same producers, a writer and, most obviously, a whole slew of the same characters. In truth, the worst crime here is that it was just done ten years ago... and who cares? We're still paying to see it, the film is still pretty damned good (worth at least Three and One Half Stars out of Five), it's a great thrill ride and a good, solid story (with comedy, action, drama and even a little horror) and enough special effects and fast-paced visuals to keep us lost in the tale and excited! James Horner's original score doesn't hurt either.
In short, whether it's too soon for a reboot or not is purely in the eyes of the beholders and the beer-holders. And, please, no more quoting the lame-ass, tired old example of The Incredible Hulk proving that audiences are very forgiving after 2003's Hulk! It's a terrible example and an idiotic cliche, man! If it works, it works... and in this case, while The Amazing Spider-Man may not be perfect, it does work! And that, my friends, makes sense! Swing away and I'll see you in the next reel!
reviewed by J.C. MaÁek III
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I couldn't help but notice a little bit of a weird synergy with The Amazing Spider-Man's cast and crew. The director's name, obviously, is “Webb”, which is kind of funny.
But you, yourself, have played two characters named “Spider” in two different films!
(Laughs) Yes, I know, it is really weird! That's true, I did!
The most recent “Spider” character of yours was in a movie called “The Lot Lizard” and now you're a villain in a Spider-Man movie where the main villain is “The Lizard”!
“The Lizard!” Yeah! Ha ha! (Laughs out loud) Yeah, that's good!
I couldn't help but wonder if that was a subliminal cue to the casting directors who saw your resume that made them say “We've got to have Leif on this film!”
(Laughing) I hope so! But yeah, I don't know what caused them to call me in, but if that was it, that's fine! Whatever it was, it was great!
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