the amazing spider-man | my movie review

Posted on October 30, 2012

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So this year saw the return of a certain young webslinger to our big screens.
Raimi’s first Spider-man movie was energetic and bright with ropey cgi, the second had the best spidey villain to date in the form of Dr Octopus, and the third took on spidey’s dark side and would have been the best of the three if it had stuck with the two main villains and erased the Green Goblin from the storyboard. I’ve always had reservations about these first three. I think it was Toby Maguire. Yes he filled the lycra suit well and yes he did a half decent job, but I just didn’t like his Peter Parker. He was a bit too dumb and awkward for my liking.
So ten years after the original Sam Raimi Spider-man and only 5 years after the third instalment we get a re-boot! Isn’t that a bit soon? Even Chris Nolan left it 8 years to inject some respect back into the Batman franchise after the abomination that was Schumacher’s Batman & Robin. I’m not fussed how long it’s been left really – I think if there’s a good story to tell then let’s see it.
So does The Amazing Spider-man have a good story to tell? Well…

Marc Webb’s [seriously!] only previous foray into feature moviemaking being 500 Days of Summer is one of my favourite comedy romance movies [i believe they’re called rom-coms but it pains me to use that term as it summons too many vacuous unfunny movie-going memories!], so I was interested to see where he would take this superhero. It’s not so much a deep moving re-imagining a la Chris Nolan, but neither is it a shambles of a super-movie of the Fantastic Four kind.
Let’s start with the story. For all intents and purposes we’re covering a lot of old ground here, which is a little disappointing in a lot of ways. Rather than it being a complete re-imagining of the spidey franchise what we get is pretty much the same – and it feels like it. It’s not different enough. What I would have liked to see was a movie that jumped straight into Spider-man mode – where the action lies, with the ‘origins’ written in as an aside to a more interesting story. What we get is an hour of Peter Parker wandering around being lonely, bullied, and wondering whatever happened to Ma and Pa! Now… I didn’t mind the first hour, it’s nicely played but just because I enjoyed it doesn’t mean I think it was necessary. I preferred Garfield’s version of the young protagonist and watching him getting used to his new mutant geo-spliced abilities and his cocky nature is fun. Andrew Garfield [Social Network] does a great job as the young wallcrawler, despite being almost 30, and is believable playing someone ten years his junior. You get a sense of the deep internal void that he has from the need to know about his past and there’s a real sense that it’s eating away at him. Hopefully this will be explored further in TASM2. Webb has also toned down the comic book feel and injected some real emotional drama, and it’s all the better for it.

As for the rest of the cast.
Unfortunately Rhys Ifans is miscast and doesn’t do much as Dr Connors. I felt that I was just watching him acting – which sounds weird but isn’t really. You shouldn’t see the actor – you should see the character. He didn’t really fill the part, but fortunately when the big ol’ cgi Lizard shows up things are amped up a notch or two, and it’s great to see good vs evil battling it out on screen again. There lies within all the cgi fight/ action scenes though the all too common feeling of no real sense of danger. How can there be when it’s all obviously cgi. It’s difficult to get emotionally involved in a fight scene when you know no-ones really there! What’s frustrating is that we know it can be done well. With 99% of cgi these days it can be [and is] impossible to tell it’s there, but it’s normally the other 1% that really really needs to be on the money for the movie to work. If it’s *obviously* cgi then it jars you out of the live action. Animated movies can be deeply affecting – but you know you’re watching an animated story – you are investing yourself in the story and not so much in the characters. But if you are expected to believe that what you are watching is ‘live action’ then it’s the job of the movie makers to make sure it works. One word – Golem!
Emma Stone [Zombieland, The Help] does a better job with her role as Gwen Stacy, Gwen being Peter Parker’s first love, whose death in the original Marvel comic storyline drew Mary Jane and Peter closer together. She is beautiful – and the chemistry between the two characters far outweighs that of Dunst and Maguire.
It’s good to see the wonderful Martin Sheen back on the big screen [albeit too briefly] as Uncle Ben, while Sally Field vies for first place as most miscast role of the movie as Aunt May, she sadly isn’t a match for Rosemary Harris’ lovely old lady! Denis Leary does a relatively good job as Captain Stacy.
There are several things that are obvious in their absence from the Spider-man universe, most notable being the Daily Bugle with the inimitable cigar smoking JJ Jameson, but this is made up for by *the best* cameo by Stan Lee yet. They’ll be hard pushed to top this one!

So… while not a masterpiece, and it may seem like I’ve been quite critical of it, for me this is the best Spider-man movie to date, although it doesn’t give us the best villain. It’s worth seeing, but the problem is it’s not quite as amazing as the title implies.

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All too often we see people with power abuse that power. But there are those who do good with what they have. While superheroes have superpowers, not all do. Batman is just a guy with gadgets after all! For me Bill Gates is a bit like a superhero. He’s got endless money. More money than he could ever spend in his lifetime – in a hundred lifetimes. Yet beneath the annoying business of computers you find a man who has given *billions* to charity and medical aid to help those in need. He has saved thousands and thousands of lives of those who would otherwise have perished. He’s one example. Another is Mother Teresa who brought hope and healing to many. On the opposite of the spectrum you have Rosa Parks. Not rich, but willing to stand for what was right at the risk of her own life, and through her boldness to stand for what was right began a change in the western attitude to race and segregation. N0ne of these people [none of us] are perfect. They all have their own failings and faults, but that doesn’t stop them being heroes.
As human beings we are called to not just do what we *think* is right, but to do what we *know* is right. We do what the Holy Spirit stirs us to do. To stand up to backward socio-political ideals , to help those caught in poverty and those who need someone to simply offer a helping hand. To say “No” when we see injustice being done. But most of all, we are called to use the most powerful gift that we have – Love. You can feel love for something or someone, but to show love in its true form is the hardest thing we can do.
How we express our love is up to us. Our voice, our actions, our signature. Many many times one voice, one person, one name has changed the course of history.
One person in particular, through His love for us, expressed it in healing and miracles, and His words and actions changed our history forever.

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