Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Amazing Spider-Man 3D review

It's easy to be cynical about The Amazing Spider-Man. The film is a reboot but it comes just five years after Tobey Maguire donned the red and blue leotards for the bloated Spider-Man 3. I mean the story heads back to high school. Yeah, I'm thinking this is all about getting those teenagers into the multiplex. Still, the comic Spider-Man did start out in high school so maybe it's not so crass in its appeal to teenagers.

The Amazing Spider-Man starts out with the boy Peter Parker being delivered to his uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) by his father, Richard. Peter's father, a scientist at Oscorp, must flee for mysterious reasons. The movie then flashes forward. Peter (Andrew Garfield) is a high school student at Midtown Science High School. He's kind of a rebel with a skateboard.
One day he stands up to a bully, Flash Thompson. That appeals to the pretty Gwen Stacy. (Emma Stone) Gwen's father also happens to be the New York police chief, George Stacy played by a convincing Dennis Leary.

Peter finds out that his father died and used to work at Oscorp. He sneaks into Oscorp pretending to be an intern. He finds that Gwen is an intern there. He also meets the one armed Dr. Curt Connors. (Rhys Ifans) Dr. Connors research is the area of cross-spieces mutation. While there, Peter wanders into a room where genetically engineered spiders are creating super strong webs. A spider falls on Peter and bites him in the neck. As a result, Peter develops an ability to sing bad U2 songs. Okay, that didn't happen. As a result of the bite, Peter develops superhuman strength and all that spidey goodness. You know. Walk on walls. Spidey sense.

After a fight with Uncle Ben, Peter wanders the streets. Ben runs out to find him. Peter watches a robbery take place at a convenience store and refuses to help the victim. Unfortunately, Ben runs into the robber and they struggle. The robber shoots him and kills him. Peter decides to try to find the robber to enact revenge. As he does so, he becomes a vigilante.

Meanwhile, Dr. Connors has developed a way to regenerate limbs using reptilian DNA. He injects himself with the serum and turns into a giant human reptile hybrid aka The Lizard. As the Lizard, Dr. Connors doesn't want to commit crimes such as robbery. He believes that humans must evolve into creatures like himself. He seeks to turn the population of New York into lizard type creatures.

What surprises me about The Amazing Spider-Man is that it's not your usual popcorn, tentpole movie. Writers James Vanderbilt, Alvin Sargent and
Steve Kloves have created a story that is big budget character piece. The dialogue feels real and there are deep emotions in the story. Ideas from the Spider-Man comics are here. Social responsibility. The limits of science. Love.

This movie won't work if there's no chemistry between the two leads. And there is. Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone have as much chemistry as Toby Maguire and Kirsten Dunst did in the first Spider-Man. It's a touching romance. And Garfield does the teenage angst thing well. He's also becomes heroic when he realizes he must use his great power for good. Stone is just charming. She beams brightly like Diane Keaton in Annie Hall. Rhys Ifans is more than a mustache twirling bad guy. He's three dimensional and sympathetic. Martin Sheen and Sally Field as Aunt May give the movie gravitas. Excellent performances all around.

Director Marc Webb does things great directors do. First he gets great performances from the actors. Then he lets them do their thing without letting the camera interfere with gymnastics. That could be because of it being filmed in 3D. Regardless, letting the screenplay and actors tell the story is better than forcing down needless camera movements. Webb's action set pieces are organic, exciting and inspiring. The special effects are also well done. The Lizard looks like something that really exists.

As stated, The Amazing Spider-Man was filmed in 3D. And it shows. There are many night scenes and you can see the action without it being too dark. While I wish Director Webb would have emphasized the 3D more with shots set up using objects in the foreground and background, it's still worthwhile in 3D. Many scenes have depth and others pop. If you're going to see The Amazing Spider-Man, see it in 3D.

Tentpole movies aren't supposed to have this much smarts and heart. The Amazing Spider-Man is simply amazing. The grade is A.

1 comment:

Dan O. said...

No reason to exist whatsoever, but it’s still a fun, superhero flick that’s being released at a perfect time. However, I kept on being reminded of the original series every single time the film would touch on a plot-point. Too distracting for me at times, but I still had fun none the less. Solid review Bernie.