Saturday, 30 June 2012

Xcursus: The Amazing Spiderman Movie Review!

Well lucky me once again! Being in India, I got to catch The Amazing Spiderman in cinemas today (June 29)! I’ll be keeping this review spoiler-free so if you are wary about reading further for fear of spoilers- don’t be.

I’ll skip the summary of the movie cos you guys already know how the whole Peter Parker tale plays out. I will say this though- this reboot adheres closer to the comics by starting with Pete’s first love in the comics- Gwen Stacy. It also keeps the story strictly to Parker’s high school days, so don’t expect J. Jonah Jameson to make an appearance. Instead we got Peter having to deal with the high school bully, Flash Thompson.

Director Marc Webb (interesting surname eh?), successfully serves up a movie that is a seamless amalgam of action, drama, humor, romance, special effects & good story. Webb does a commendable job of executing the story, bringing a more real, grittier Manhattan than the one we’ve witnessed before. He’s also made good use of the 3D especially in the action & web-slinging scenes. The fights are slick & fast-paced, which is great for a Spidey movie, but I found the quick action hard to follow in some places due to the 3D. What's great about the action here though is that unlike Raimi's trilogy, Webb has employed a lot of practical effects to pull off the web-slinging & most of the action is not computer generated & definitely feel very real.

The writers & director have done well to try & distance this film from the original trilogy & it’s like they put in whatever was missing in those three original (OG) movies. I love that they've involved Peter’s parents in the story. I also like the different reactions Spidey gets from the general public here than in the OG films. AND there is a slight nod to the first Spiderman movie & you’ll will know it when you’ll see it. It's great to see the contrast of the post-spider bite scene in this movie than in Spiderman- a train-load of hilarious moments set to a brilliant soundtrack (I need to know the name of that song that plays!!)

About the acting- when you got Martin Sheen as Uncle Ben & Sally Field as Aunt May, you know you can’t go wrong, but I’ll focus on our two leads- Andrew Garfield (The Social Network) as Peter Parker aka Spiderman & Emma Stone (Zombieland, Easy A, The Help) as Gwen. Andrew is perfect for the role- he may have unconventional looks & a much leaner physique than Tobey Maguire did, but I think he brings his own charm to the character- in my opinion, this is exactly how Spidey was meant to be portrayed in the first place! An awkward kid who hides his emotions with his (entertaining) wise-cracks. He’s simply trying to find his place in his crazy new world. Garfield is fantastic in his emotional & dramatic scenes! Unlike Maguire’s sappy, goody-two-shoes act, this Parker definitely feels more real, human & vulnerable. Andrew does a great job nailing the comedy as well & I love how the tension of dramatic or action packed scenes in the movie is interjected with some great laughs.

Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy. Ah! We all know she’s an awesome actress & she’s constantly proven her mettle with every film she’s done. You can see why she decided to do this film- TASM’s Gwen is not simply a damsel in distress who needs to be saved by Spidey every friggin time (a la Kirsten Dunst’s Mary Jane). No, no, this Gwen is a sexy, sassy AND intelligent gal. Well, she has been all those things in the comics so it should come as no surprise.
With both being science nerds, it’s great to see Peter get a partner in Gwen who’s on the same wavelength as he is. Gwen definitely has her moments & Stone’s acting, as is the case with Garfield, is top-notch, portraying a girl torn between her superhero boyfriend & her police captain father. It’s an absolute delight to watch the amazing chemistry between Stone & Garfield as we witness a cute teenage love story within the whole scheme of things (which is sure to keep your girlfriend engrossed in the movie lol).

Onto the villain- the Lizard! FINALLY fans get to see the (long-awaited) reptilian menace on the silver screen! Though many have been cribbing about the look & effects of the Lizard in the movie I thought he looked great, though I do admit the CG is slightly distracting & iffy in a few places, especially on his facial close-ups.
The humanoid face however, makes him more realistic & in my opinion, it would’ve been silly to see a proper Lizard with snout et al speak, in a live-action film. The threat feels very real for Spidey here, not too cartoony like Green Goblin from Spiderman. There are times when you definitely feel like he’s more than Parker can handle! The fact that motion capture was used out here, means all the movements & expressions of the Lizard are of Rhys Ifhans himself, who has done a good job overall as well.

I’d also like to mention that it was good to see Indian actor Irrfan Khan (A Mighty Heart) as Dr. Ratha as well. Irrfan is a very critically acclaimed actor out here in India so his first appearance in the film got some good audible reactions from those in the theater. And though it is a small role it doesn’t feel like a blink-&-you’ll-miss-it kinda role, his presence is felt throughout. And speaking about "blink-&-you’ll-miss-it", Stan Lee's cameo here?? OMG it's his best till date!

Lastly, I want to touch upon the costume- Most fanboys hated it when it was first revealed while the film was still being made, but I loved it from the start! Sure, it seems a bit much that a teenage boy could pull off such an over-the-top costume but then again, we’re talking about a boy who’s got spider-powers. And guys, the costume’s eyes aren’t yellow- more like silver in color which is reflective. I love that they went for mechanical web shooters! Pretty much how it is in the comics & how it should be.

If you are a comic book &/or comic book movie nerd you’d definitely enjoy this movie, but if your knowledge of Spiderman is restricted only to the OG Spidey trilogy, I suggest not going in with too many expectations & just aim at enjoying a fresh take on the Spidey-verse. This is definitely not a rehash of the OG (thank god!) & it’s a more realistic take, as is lately becoming a trend in CBMs ever since Nolan’s Bat-verse.

And before I forget- wait for an after-credits scene. It's supposed to highlight the villain for the next film, but I still don't have a clue who it is! Anyone who knows just message me on Facebook or email me. Don't comment out here about that cos we don't wanna spoil the fun for others now do we?

So my final verdict? I give it a 7/10. Good story, brilliant acting, great villain. BUT some rushed action & slightly iffy CG doesn’t make me go gaga enough to have a second go at it in theaters. I was also let down with that whole "Spiderman POV" scene that we saw in the trailer(see below). I thought there was more to it- there isn't.

What did you think of the film? Let me know in your comments below! My next (& last) movie review for 2012 will of course be for The Dark Knight Rises! Stay tuned.
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