Monday, July 16, 2012

The Amazing Spider-Man in 3D (2012)

Directed by Marc Webb 
(Webb...Spider-Man...was this a planned joke?)

Hard to believe that Sam Raimi proved to us that a man could freely swing from a web and a comic book franchise could be a Hollywood heavy-hitter just ten years ago. After two sequels in 2004 and 2007, Raimi and Sony decided to go their separate ways in favor of Sony's reboot inspired by the Ultimate Spider-Man comic and television series rather than Raimi's deriving of the original source. That brings us to the new union of director Marc Webb and star Andrew Garfield to take us into the next generation with this summer's The Amazing Spider-Man.

Garfield takes on Peter Parker this time around as a messy-haired shutterbug with an affinity for scientific genius built more for the Hipster phenomenon running wild right now. While he is still a bit of an outcast, he is not as nerdy as the Parker we are used to. He has a bit of a wit and stands up to school athlete/bully Flash (Chris Zylka) to stop a lesser nerd from getting his butt kicked fully knowing that Flash can squash him like a bug. His act of heroics draws interest from resident hottie Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) who works at Oscorp under Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans).

When he was a little boy, Peter was left to the care of his Aunt May (Sally Field) and Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) after his mom and dad needed to leave town for some unexpected reason relating to Parker Sr.'s work. They died in a plane crash, so he was treated by his aunt and uncle as their own son, yet he never learned too much about his real parents as he aged into his teens. That is until one day when he finds some of his father's old belongings in Ben's basement. One of the items is an algorithmic formula that his father and Dr. Connors were working on until his untimely death. Apparently, this is the last piece needed to complete a limb regeneration formula that Connors was developing to help amputee victims and those without limbs, like himself, grow them back.

When Peter infiltrates Oscorp to gain an audience with Connors and discuss the algorithm important to Connors' research, Peter is bitten by a genetically mutated spider from his father's previous work, which produces webs of steel-like proportions and are developed by OsCorp. This transforms Peter into Spider-Man, but he has a hard time adjusting to balancing normal responsibilities and helping Connors finish the cure for limb regeneration to complete his and Peter's father's old initiatives. 

What follows is another spin on Ben dying due to Peter's negligence, which sets Peter into a rage to find and kill his Uncle's murderer. His home life with his aunt is at a major low, but his relationship with Gwen strengthens - even though her father (Dennis Leary) is on the force and out to stop the "masked vigilante" known as Spider-Man. Meanwhile, pressures for saving the dying Oscorp founder Norman Osbourne (dun-dun-dun!) cause Connors to move to the human trials of the regeneration serum, starting with himself. Not only does his arm regenerate, but he turns into the aggressive and evil Lizard. Now Peter must save the city against The Lizard's evil agenda, keeping in mind that the well-meaning and caring Dr. Connors is trapped underneath those vicious scales. 

Comparing Raimi and Webb's version is like trying to compare Burton's and Nolan's take on Batman. They are totally different films that use the same main character but different source materials. So which version is better? They are both "better". Raimi's version will always hold more true to the more traditional story of Spider-Man and he had the vision and technology to make Spider-Man swing around the streets of New York. In 2012, Webb pulls from the Ultimate Spider-Man universe with a more modern-day version of Peter Parker and has ten more years of technological advancements to improve on what Raimi had at his disposal in 2002.

Even if you are a hardcore Raimi fan, you have to realize that he made his mark with the franchise and is now finished with it. That stated, you really need to go into this film with an open mind because you will be pleasantly surprised with what Webb has lined up for you in his web shooters. Garfield is a different breed of Parker and actually pulls off the character rather well. Ifans has always served as a better villain than hero in previous films, so it is really good to see him balance a sympathetic villain with well meaning yet disjointed intentions for mankind. Stone looks as beautiful as ever here showing off her natural blonde hair and her acting is definitely a step up from Kirsten Dunst's (aka the Achilles Heel of Raimi's franchise) Mary Jane. It also helps having some proven vets like Field and Sheen around as well.  

The special effects, including the 3D work, is incredible! From Spidey's webs to his wall climbing efforts, it is all top notch. Another positive to Webb's film making is his direction and vision through his use of POV shots when Spider-Man is swinging and bouncing between buildings in NYC. It is close as you will get to feeling like Spider-Man, if only for a few fragmented seconds.

Before judgement can be laid onto The Dark Knight Rises in August, this is second best superhero flick of this summer and one worth seeing in 3D on the big screen. Go in with an open mind and a willing heart and get ready to be amazed by this new version of our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man!

4 out of 5 Spidey Santas





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