Marc Webb’s superb direction and a near perfect cast shine in Marvel’’ latest web slinger adventure. But it is 85-year-old Alvin Sargent’s script that is the true star of The Amazing Spiderman.
Hollywood is seriously over exhausting the ideal of the reboot. Sometimes it as though studios rush a film solely for revenue purposes, knowing the fan and critic response may be negative. However audiences are forgiving of some sub-par franchises, and look forward to the inevitable darker, moodier, and more tightly woven reboot. I knew that the reboot would be as common as romantic comedies after viewing the two definitive reboots of the early 21st century: Batman Begins and Casino Royale. Although nipples on the Batsuit and invisible Aston Martins certainly were ludicrous plot devices that needed correction, the first good caped crusader film and 21st Bond film should be a testament for studios to aspire to do cinema right the first time. Nevertheless, I viewed Sam Raimi’s 2002 & 2004 Spiderman and Spiderman 2 (yes I still avoid subsequent viewings of the overly convoluted third film) respectively with the hopes of intentionally creating Déjà vu. If Sony Pictures studio executives Amy Pascal and Michael Lynton are correct in justifying the 2012 Spiderman reboot, audiences should feel as though they are viewing an entirely new film. 500 Days of Summer director Marc Webb remarkably revisits some familiar territory and still delivers a worthy entry into the superhero genre.
Being less campy and bleaker is not enough for Marc Webb and his crew, and they have chosen to have seemingly less action and more dialogue in a movie with a reported $220 million dollar budget. This is a risky but logical approach that is probably learned in film courses with 101 following the course name: i.e the audience becomes fully acquainted with the cast and when action happens they actually care about the character’s fate. Simple enough but this warrants stellar execution on the part of the director framing his actors/actresses in a serene environment. Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone do not totally overshadow what Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst first did 10 years prior, but the former mentioned couple’s relationship is richer and more vibrant. Garfield and Stone are able to have an intelligent loner and intelligent rebel have chemistry without it felling trite and forced. In this movie Peter Parker was not the kid that everyone thinks of as a window-licker or the person destined to go dunking for turds in the high-school bathroom courtesy of the cliché’ school bully. No, he was not overly popular and he is highly intelligent, but that does not denote nerd. And this is where the script shines: Parker does not have to be nerdy or unpopular for us to cheer for him once he receives his extraordinary powers. The circumstances that led to him living with Uncle Ben and Aunt May (Martin Sheen & Sally Fields are a worthy swap for Cliff Robertson and Rosemary Harris) are complex enough to drive this movie and the inevitable sequel.
The movie’s $220 million dollar budget is distributed well across the runtime of 2hrs 16mins, and although I am not a fan of CGI, the computer effects are warranted if you want an agile lizard-man ravaging the George Washington Bridge. The Epic Red One camera (along with the Arri Alexa) is the best of the lot when it comes to digital cinematography, but I am still not convinced that it is better than standard 35mm. Nonetheless all of the aesthetics for this film are on par or better than other 2012 releases thus far.
My only complaint is that at times the antagonist will play out like a derivative Godzilla like creature rather than a true villain. Again this is a minor complaint and I am looking forward to what the 85 year old Alvin Sargent (Ordinary People, What About Bob? and Spiderman1-3) and his fellow two screenwriters will come up with next. Sony Pictures was at fault for forcing Sargent to include too many villains and a daytime soap opera love story in the 3rd Spiderman film. Alvin Sargent, James Vanderbilt, and Harry Potter alum Steve Kloves have a challenge ahead of them to explore the dangers of Oscorp, decide the fate of Gwen Stacy, and ultimately give a reason for audiences to return to theaters once this huge 2012-movie year is over.
The Amazing Spiderman: B+