Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Amazing Spiderman: A Masked Nerd & A Lovely Lady

As usual, I am a little late on the draw with my movie reviews. But, like most adults, I have a life. I wish all I had to do all week was go see movies and write about them but I have a job and shit to do, so I'm never going to be the blogger who writes movie reviews early, or even on time. They will always be late, but rest assured, they will be more thoughtful and more detailed oriented than those quick fire reviews.

Directed By: Marc Webb

Any way, today I am reviewing The Amazing Spiderman, another film from the Marvel collection. This marks the 7th in just the past 3 years. And while cinephiles around the world let out a collective groan, the rest of the movie-going public seems to be cheering. And who can blame them? Spiderman is arguably the most popular superhero in American culture, since Superman in his hay-day. The fact that the studio decided to reboot Spiderman at all, shows the insatiable appetite for the masked hero is at an all time high.

The film stars the slight, British raised hottie Andrew Garfield, as Peter Parker, and I am happy to say that he's great. I admit, I had my reservations about Garfield, I thought he might not have the acting chops to carry this beloved American franchise. But I was wrong, and he pulled it off with great commitment and authenticity. He defined the character as his own. Garfield's Peter Parker is certainly a nerd and vulnerable, but he's head-strong, witty, and not afraid of a fight. Garfield's take is far superior to Toby Maguire's painfully meek character from the 'original.'

However, the real story about this film is, quite obviously, the lovely, and talented Miss Emma Stone. As Gwen Stacy, Stone proves that she can do it all. She's the modern girl who stepped right out of the Golden Age. She has killed it on every red carpet, at every premier, and she's a vision on screen. She has had an meteoric rise to fame and she did it the old fashioned way. By playing a variety of dramatic and comedic roles, staying out of trouble, and dressing for her perfect figure. This is not the girl whose personal drama you're going to see splattered across OK! Magazine. And it's incredibly refreshing.

Garfield and Stone are apparently the new hot celebrity couple, and while I take all of that gossip with a grain of salt, there is no denying their on screen chemistry. In fact, with a script that moves at lightning speed, I was surprised that the love story ended up being the most interesting aspect of the film. Garfield so perfectly embodies a young man with a conflicted heart, and Stone plays the smart beauty, unafraid to take charge.

But, Spiderman suffers from the typical problems prevalent in all of these big blockbusters films. Firstly, as I stated above, they fly through so many different story lines that there is no real opportunity for nuance or subtlety. They try to fit too much information into just a few scenes and it comes across like they think the audience is stupid.

They also spend the first half of the film creating that crucial motivation needed to successfully execute that classic heroes journey.  But then they skip over the more interesting aspects of Peter Parker's transformation. For a film that sets itself up for at least 2 sequels, it spent far too little time on the most memorable parts of the story.

However, there is something to be said for the fact that Uncle Ben's death didn't play a huge role in the film, beyond basic motivation for Peter to stop being so damn selfish. If they had gone in the opposite direction, there would have been the risk of the over all theme of the film being too similar to Sam Raimi's 2002 version. The filmmakers went to great lengths to try differentiate The Amazing Spiderman from the earlier films, and it was relatively successful.

But the biggest flaw of all is the fact that Marvel refuses to push the boundaries. They have every incentive to be more innovative. They have the built in fan-base, the money and the clout to take more risks. But they constantly fall back on their old tricks. And while I personally enjoy this genera, I think they do themselves a disservice by not using new techniques. And no, 3D is not a new technique. I have never liked 3D, it not only makes me sick, but I think it cheapens the medium as a whole.

As an artist I feel like I have to comment on the design of the film. I did not think the production design, costumes and the other artistic aspects of the film were up to scruff. Once again, the studios throw all of their money behind the technology, and while the effects are pretty cool, it doesn't excuse the mono-tone gray background, gray sets and gray costumes.

Despite the flaws, there is a lot to love about this film. Not just Peter Parker's witty humor, or Gwen Stacy's legs, but at its core, it's the Spiderman we love. No matter how much the studio tried to ruin it, the film still manages to be funny, emotional and little sexy, not just throw away fan-boy garbage, (I'm looking at you Thor).

B- : Better than some of the other Marvel films, great performance from Andrew Garfield, but not innovative enough, and they pander to the audience like we're stupid.

And, gentlemen, if you are having a hard time getting your girlfriend to go see this film, just tell her that this film was directed by the same man who directed 500 Days of Summer.

(Images are off of Google)

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