Monday, July 9, 2012

Great Power, Great Responsibility

"With great  power, comes great responsibility"

The Amazing Spider-man will do like what Batman Begins did for the Batman franchise. An edgier, grittier and perhaps even funnier Spider-man than the Sam Raimi version of things.

Unlike Batman Begins, where the reboot was wholly necessary to fix the order of things (the atrocities of Batman and Robin still linger in the thoughts of many) to bring life back into an already tainted depiction of the Dark Knight, the Amazing Spider-man seemed wholly unnecessary.

Why was it unnecessary? Because Raimi’s vision of Spidey was excellent, except that Spider-man 3 suffered from the greater expectations after Spider-man 2 and also , the villain casting in Spider-man 3 was left wanting. Otherwise, Raimi had it spot on! Tobey Maguire as the mild mannered Peter Parker and aloof at times. Being a spidey fan (and Batman fan as well) for most of my kid life and teenage life and college life even, I thought Spider-man defined comic movies!

So, So, I went to watch The Amazing Spider-man with low expectations, thinking that this formula is nothing new to me anymore. And I came out….wanting even more!

And here’s my assessment on it:-

The movie’s pacing was, to some people, slow, but I thought it was necessary to lay the foundations for the main character, Peter Parker and the more important supporting characters, Gwen Stacy, Uncle Ben and Aunt May.
Like Raimi’s version, he took an hour to introduce the characters and how Spidey came to be, before he finally dons that spandex suit and started swinging around.
This version did the same. Only this time, Parker is still a teenager, still in high school, more angsty (teenagers!) and is awkward. I believe this version takes it’s liberties from the Ultimate Spider-man franchise instead.

I have read some Ultimate Spider-man books but I wasn’t too interested in this continuity, where Parker was still a teenager. I guess I’d prefer the classic continuity instead. But anyway back to this post…..


Which brings me to the casting – Andrew Garfield is an excellent Spider-man and perhaps in my opinion better than Tobey Maguire. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the Tobey Maguire version. It’s just that Andrew Garfield edges it a little. He is edgy as Peter Parker, who is always a conflicted character and has seen more share of tragedy than any other superhero in the Marvel universe but light hearted as Spider-man with his smart aleck sarcasm and quips! Just the way I’ve always wanted Spider-man to be. Like Deadpool, always saying something sarcastic. Tobey’s Spider-man just didn’t had that. Heck, he even carries a bagpack and a cell phone like a kid!

Emma Stone, has been one of my favourite actresses this generation. More so cause she was in comedies like Easy A and Superbad (One of the best comedies of all time). So, I like her spunk and her penchant for comedy. So casting her as Gwen Stacy merely enforces that. Gwen Stacy is a strong character here and is not a damsel in distress. Very much different from the Mary Jane from the last trilogy (somehow, I’ve always thought Kristen Dunst was miscast).
Sad to say, I'm quite sure Gwen Stacy will die in the next movie, if the Green Goblin has anything to do with it. She is a good character but a doomed one unfortunately. That's tragic.

Uncle Ben and Aunt May (Martin Sheen and Sally Field) – now here you have Award winning peeps taking on these roles and they do not disappoint. Uncle Ben comes across as a caring father-figure and doer of what is morally right whilst Aunt May is no longer the aloof aunt but the caring mother-figure to Peter’s conflicted character. They both come off across as people who have  been in our lives.

Rhys Irfan played Dr Curt Connors really well. Though some people may not be able to see the angle of his character, whether he has some good or is truly bad, but one thing, for sure, he is not a one dimensional character. But he is shady and his motives may left one to wonder. As for the Lizard, I was a little disappointed that he did not fit the description I envisioned. He didn’t have that classic lizard snout and comes across as a scaly faced man with a huge body and tail. I thought this character could have expanded a little bit more. I guess it’s difficult to compete with the likes and charisma of Willem Defoe (the Green Goblin) and Alfred Molina (Doc Octopus) who till this day remain as the bests villains in Spidey history.

As for Captain Stacy, played by Dennis Leary (from the Ice Age series), his character could have been explored a little more. But I suppose he had to die anyway.

The movie

Now, I’m not going to spoil the story too much for anyone who hasn’t seen it. But here’s my review of it. The story would provide a good introduction story to a whole new franchise. As I have said earlier, it is a darker story and the bigger scheme of things in this would be Peter’s parents, who they are, what happened to them, and Oscorp would have a larger role to play in all the movies this time round.
The characters of Norman and Harry Osborne are not yet introduced, but in due time I presume.

So there we start off with Peter as a kid. His parents leaving him because they have a higher duty to attend to, or perhaps escape even, and thus he is left to live with Uncle Ben and Aunt May. He grows up as an awkward kid and as always Flash Thompson will be there to be his tormentor. He then finds out a secret that his parents’ had hidden (perhaps meant for him to discover when he has come of age) which ultimately leads him to Dr Connors who is working on a miracle of regeneration. Stem cell research? Hardly. This is an entirely new method and Peter has the equation.

Peter gets bitten and suddenly he is endowed with all these powers, climbing walls and being super agile. Now, he doesn’t have his webs yet, and that’s where it gets interesting. Like the comics, he builts his own web shooters and so that’s something I liked. 

Tragic would soon befall him as Uncle Ben dies due to his negligence and arrogance. Once again, I was touched and emotions stirred during the death of Uncle Ben. And Andrew Garfield made it even more so.

And finally he learns that “with great power comes great responsibility”, though the words are not uttered, the idea and principle remains throughout the movie.

So, Dr Connors finally develops the serum to regenerate with Peter’s help but is reluctant to test it on patients when asked to do so. Upon being told that the serum will be tested on the patients anyway, he decides then to test it on himself first. It works, hand regenerates but the becomes a lizard instead. And this is when all hell breaks loose, and hence, go watch the movie to find out J

Just a summary.

But more importantly, I felt that this movie was written really well. I couldn’t find that many holes in the plot and the execution is well. Even the action sequences were more believable, perhaps thanks to recent technology and so forth.

What I loved about this movie is that not only is Parker more relatable to us in real life, the other characters too are people you see in life everyday. Even Spider-man is vulnerable and flawed. And the dynamics of how that worked out well would be the key to why this film is good, if not great.
Sure it doesn’t hit the high of Spider-man 2, but with Marc Webb, I won’t hold back on that. This film had potential to build up to greater things.

Most definitive and emotional scene :- handing the overdue eggs to Aunt May after a hard day’s work.

In conclusion, whilst I love the first franchise, I think this Spider-man presents itself as a more relatable and realistic Spider-man. And hence, Andrew Garfield’s portrayal tops Tobey Maguire’s, not by a mile but a slight edge. And because of that, I can’t wait for the next installment.

With the Avengers gone and Spider-man done with, will the Dark Knight Rise to challenge the box office as the comic-book event of the year? 2 weeks from now.

But until then, the Amazing Spider-man has appease this fan-boy. With much pleasure. Thank you Marc Webb and Andrew Garfield. Thank you.

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