Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Review: The Amazing Spider-Man (Mild Spoilers)

CAUTION: Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.

The Amazing Spider-Man poster

The Amazing Spider-Man (2D) / *Mild Spoilers*
136mins / Dir. Marc Webb (HA HA! WEBB! LIKE A SPIDER WOULD MAKE! AS IN WEB! I AM FUNNY.)



I wasn't impressed by the trailers when I saw them at the cinema. Largely because a) I grew more and more civilian towards the web-slinger with the last run of movies as they went on, and b) When you're Marvel and you've already released Avengers this year, is there really any point in a reboot of an origins story that most folks still remember from ten years ago, and only features one superhero anyway?

The Good: Andrew Garfield plays a good Spider-Man. I'm not convinced about his portrayal of Peter Parker, but I think that's more down to the character than the actor. When he's not being the awkward whiny teenager that the role apparently requires, he's surprisingly likeable. Also putting in a good turn is Emma Stone. Sure, she over-eggs the pudding from time to time, but she's nowhere near as annoying as she could have been (ie: Kirsten Dunst). Elsewhere, the supporting players are competent in their supporting/comic-book roles (see my exception in The Ugly). There's not really much you can do with 'Stern Police Commissioner' or 'Weeping, Concerned Aunt', so in that respect, they're all fine.

The visuals, in the 2D I saw it in, are pretty spot on (see my exception in The Ugly) and Spidey looks good swinging around New York. Certainly less plastic than his last three outings, but the camera-work's a lot more choppy this time around too, so that will hide any limitations in the animation.

Considering this is a bona-fide origins tale (and considering the arse-numbing running time), the story skips along at a fair old rate. In this case, I count that as a good thing, because there are certain events you're waiting for anyway, so no time's wasted getting them laid out. The spider-bite sequence occurs rapidly and without fuss, and the 'getting to know my powers' montage is equally underplayed. In fact, the 'Other Defining Moment in Spider-Man's Formation'™ is compressed to around a minute, which pretty much robs it of the impact it had in previous tellings...

The Bad: And yet, despite the cramming in of plot-points and origin-exposition, it feels like not a lot actually happens. One of the biggest questions the film asks is left unanswered for a sequel, and various others seem not to matter, apparently. I suspect it'll become clearer after another viewing, but I can't work out why it took them over two hours to tell this story. Avengers was only ten minutes longer, and they had seven lead characters. The film certainly doesn't drag, but I was very aware that I'd been in the cinema for bloody ages. On top of this, there are parts of the trailers that aren't in the film. Nothing unusual there, but they seem to be talky bits, which the plot sorely needs.

Oh, and the bit with the cranes? My facepalm nearly gave me concussion.

It'd be nice to think that Spidey has been rebooted so that he could make an appearance in Avengers 2, but I don't think the Paramount/Columbia divide isn't about to be bridged any time soon. It seems odd though, that no other superhero activity is mentioned in The Amazing Spider-Man, and yet the public are surprisingly calm with a vigilante that can climb walls, and no-one seems fucking terrified enough at the prospect of a seven-foot man-lizard throwing cars off of Brooklyn Bridge. Speaking of which…

The Ugly: The Lizard looks like he's been animated in Claymation. I'm not normally one for slagging off CGI, but he really stands out in this film as being like an animatic that someone forgot to finish. Maybe it's the bizarrely human features on an otherwise lizard-like body, maybe it's because they tried to leave something of Rhys Ifans to come through in the performance, but something about him looks awful. And acts pretty awful, too, but that's almost besides the point.

After the credits: There's a short scene after the first batch of names, which serves as a reminder that they haven't answered the question that's been asked for the last two and a quarter hours. And at the very end? I don't know, I didn't hand around that long (this time).

Is there a Wilhelm Scream™? Not that I heard, but I could have missed it if it was low in the mix. Even Rock of Ages had a Wilhelm, sort it out Marvel!

Is there a Stan Lee cameo? Yes, of course there is, although it's not a speaking role this time. Although the sound of your palm slamming into your face will drown out anything he says anyway, as it usually does.

Worth £8+? If you're on the fence about Spider-Man, yes, probably. If you know it's not your thing, it's not going to change your mind or surprise you.

For a film that's as completely unnecessary as The Amazing Spider-Man, it's pretty good. Not great, but pretty good.


5/7

Disclaimer: That's a tentative 5/7. Further viewings could alter that. Although it's unlikely to go up.

DISCLAIMERS:
• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.

• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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