Tag Archives: Marc Webb

“The Amazing Spider Man” movie review

Much better than "Spider-Man 3".  But then, what isn't?

Much better than “Spider-Man 3”. But then, what isn’t?

I intended to go and see director Marc Webb‘s summer reboot of Marvel’s beloved defender of New York City earlier this year and somehow never got around to it.  Trailers didn’t really amaze me, the advance word was somewhat muted and even the mighty “Empire” magazine were a little cool on it with their three star review – the proverbial drums were beating ‘stay away, stay away!’ to anybody even half-listening.

As it turns out, true believers, The Amazing Spider-Man is perhaps the best adventure for Peter Parker since Sam Raimi‘s peerless, knock-it-out-of-the-park sequel, Spider-Man 2“.  It’s better written than the fairly woeful third movie and has captured more of the charm of Stan Lee and Steve Ditko‘s eternally teenaged shutterbug/wise-cracking vigilante than the Raimi series really managed to – Andrew Garfield is a fantastic Parker and a great Spider-Man.

Something that must be said is that this version does take some fan-baiting, mildly controversial liberties with the established origins of the character – there’s a teasing thread which shows us the hither-to unseen Parker parents, who disappear from the young Peter’s life under the proverbial cloud and the pivotal death of Uncle Ben is rendered slightly differently – but no less effectively – than I remember it from the comics.

In this, the film is greatly assisted by having Martin Sheen in the role.  He’s not in the film for a major amount of time but utterly commands the screen as the great paternal substitute in Peter’s life – there’s a palpable dread running through this section of the film as you know what’s going to happen, know that it has to happen to really set the plot and the titular character’s central struggle in motion but really don’t want Uncle Ben to, you know, go to the big idyllic NYC stoop in the great hereafter.

Kissy-kissy, lovey-dovey Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone as Peter Parker and Gwen Stacey.  Doing kisses.

Kissy-kissy, lovey-dovey Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone as Peter Parker and Gwen Stacey. Doing kisses.

Where this movie really soars is in the depiction of the Parker/Gwen Stacey relationship.  In hiring Marc Webb, the director of “500 Days of Summer“, a quite distinct signal was being sent to fans ahead of time that there was going to be more focus on and attention paid to the relationship side of this superhero adventure story and that has indeed proven to be the case.  The boyfriend/girlfriend dynamic of Parker and Stacey is really quite charming and performed beautifully by Garfield and Stone – they’re a very convincing on-screen couple.  One, in fact, which you actually don’t mind spending some time with – usually the obligatory, focus-group insisted-upon love story is a cue for me to zone out of most Hollywood pictures, but I really didn’t mind this aspect of the film at all.  It was very well done and made all the more compelling when you know how things are supposed to pan out for this comic book couple.

In fact, weirdly, the stuff that you’re supposed to come to this movie for – the action and set-pieces – are not really as interesting as the dramatic heavy-lifting and acting from the excellent cast.   I’m sure that this wasn’t the intent but, for the most part, the expected spectacular sequences of super heroic derring-do really don’t materialize that often and when they do don’t hold a candle to the equivalent mayhem on display in this summer’s “The Dark Knight Rises” or “The Avengers”.

Perhaps the best moment, in fact, comes right at the end – I won’t spoil it, but it involves C. Thomas Howell and a moment of transcendent,  blue-collar, NYC solidarity for their web-slinging, wise-cracking knight .  You might find it too cheesy if you need more irony from your cinematic spectacle, but I loved the way that the scene in question allowed the city that Spidey will save time and time again to give their champion a much-needed assisting hand during a moment of crisis.

The Lizard isn’t the greatest Spidey villain, for me, but Rhys Ifans does a great job in portraying his alter-ego, Doctor Curt Connors – he’s simply a much more interesting character than the charmless, technically competent but utterly uninteresting monster which he morphs into when an experiment goes wrong.   When the action goes from the refreshingly practical staging which typifies the opening half of the movie to a CG character beat-down a-la every other superhero movie in recent memory, it’s really quite easy to find yourself looking at your watch or checking your phone – the action is weightless and the threat to our hero is non-existent (awesome Stan Lee cameo, though…).

It’s a very promising start to a new trilogy and I’m keen to see if Webb – who is apparently returning to helm the second movie – manages to keep the momentum going that he has established with this first film.  Word has it that Electro might be the bad guy in that movie – wonder if they’ll be keeping the classic costume?

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David Cronenberg on “Batman”, Christopher Nolan – handbags at dawn!

 

Oh, internet hive mind – must you be so thin-skinned?

“And Wolverine’s an asshat, too!”

David Cronenberg has been promoting his current rumination on post-economic meltdown NYC, “Cosmopolis“, and managed to upset a great many bloggers, forum trolls and click baiters with his off-hand dismissal of “The Dark Knight Rises“, Christopher Nolan and superhero cinema in general:

“But a superhero movie, by definition, you know, it’s comic book. It’s for kids. It’s adolescent in its core. That has always been its appeal, and I think people who are saying, you know, Dark Knight Rises is, you know, supreme cinema art, I don’t think they know what the f**k they’re talking about.”  

Cart upturned, apples everywhere.  But he’s got a point.  As Danny Bowes’ excellent piece over at the Tor Books blog observes, this isn’t a case of some arthouse know-nothing aesthete critiquing superhero flicks and genre film from a position of arrogance and indifference, it’s one of cinema’s most pre-eminent and skilled navigators of genre convention and subversion making a concise and cogent argument about a significant director and the most lucrative films being made by the major studios today.

I’m a Christopher Nolan fan, and moreover I love his Batman movies, but I wouldn’t make any huge claim for their relevance beyond being entertaining examples of mainstream entertainment with some interesting underpinnings.   That’s why I found some of the forum negativity towards “The Avengers” and Marc Webb‘s “The Amazing Spider-Man” somewhat baffling,  particularly when it was coming from the self-appointed Nolan Defense Force, for whom their blithely unaware leader’s every bodily emission is a sacred text to be studied and treasured.

At the level that Christopher Nolan, Joss Whedon, Marc Webb and co are working – with major studios, on comic book flicks, with £250 million budgets and all the toys that their tent-pole flicks can command – there’s very little chance that their movies are ever going to be allowed to be anything other than entertaining popcorn flicks with most of the rough edges snipped away.  Any opportunity to challenge the assumptions of the audience or make observations about the psyche of the viewer are going to be a very distant second to building a massive thrill ride which gets butts on cinema seats, sells soundtracks on iTunes and gets the truly devoted to buy all the related tie-in products in the eyes of the studio.

Simply put, Cronenberg has always been in a different business to the guys who bet on comic book characters to bring in the bucks and keep their jobs safe.  Whilst it might be nice to imagine what he might do with a character like DC’s John Constantine (astute cinephiles reading this blog will doubtless remember the fine work that Cronenberg turned in with his graphic novel adaptation, “A History of Violence”, so it’s not as if he’s so against the artistic form as a whole), I suspect it’s a safe bet that we won’t see him directing that “Guardians of the Galaxy” flick in our collective lifetime.

And, hey – if you think that Cronenberg’s some highfalutin snob who doesn’t have a sense of humour, get your ocular accentuation receptacles around this compilation of kills from “Jason X” (Reader discretion is advised – contains gore and Jason Voorhees smoking fools).

Yes, that is his Cronenberginess getting a right old smoting at the grisly, undead hands of Camp Crystal Lake‘s brightest son.  It fair brings a tear to my eye, so it does…

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New “Amazing Spider-Man” trailer 23% more amazing, significantly spidery.

How absolutely typical.

No sooner have I posted about how little the trailers for The Amazing Spider-Man have done for me so far than Sony up and drop a new trailer that’s actually pretty cool.  What are the odds of that happening?

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Honestly, it’s as if somebody’s cottoned on to the fact that there’s a very crowded marketplace out there this summer and they really want you to go and see the damned thing.

Quite sensibly, the hive mind behind this trailer have decided to show one of the big set pieces in reasonable detail so that we can get a sense of the action in this reboot from director Marc Webb – and it’s looking pretty tasty, blending Peter Parker’s ineffable likeability and the ‘check this out’ swagger of his abilities when employed in the face of certain doom.

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I really enjoyed this trailer and might actually drag myself to the cinema to see it now – after all, something’s got to fill in that hellish July fortnight or so until Christopher Nolan lays waste to the hearts and minds of fanboys and geek girls eagerly wondering how he’ll possibly top The Dark Knight with the final instalment of his Bat trilogy.

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“The Amazing Spider-Man” attempts to divest you from your ready cash on 3 July 2012 in the UK – uncommonly fortunate folks in New Zealand and Japan get to see it from the 28th June.

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New “Amazing Spider-Man” poster makes your eyes go funny…

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All very nice, I’m sure, but what would this chap make of it?

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A vexing question and one which occupies me as I’ve yet to see any compelling reason to drag my nerdy ass to the cinema to see this reboot when it opens in July, fancy posters be darned.  I’m going to be waiting for the likes of @ThatKevinSmith and the greater comics community to weigh in before I get a sense of whether this is a rejig too far.

Marc Webb‘s previous film, “500 Days of Summer” was a pretty fun diversion but it didn’t show me that he’s the man to call the shots on a big franchise entry like this but clearly he talks a good game if could convince Sony to hand over the keys to arguably their biggest movie series.

 

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New “Amazing Spider-Man” trailer brings the action

I will confess that the forthcoming Marc Webb superhero reboot, “The Amazing Spider-Man”, hasn’t been on my radar up to this point.

 

After Sam Raimi’s mediocre third “Spider-Man” film came and went, I felt sure that Sony would give the series a rest for a few years and perhaps come back to the table armed with a few new ideas and perhaps have the courage to play with aspects of the comics as yet undepicted on-screen – the “2099” era seems tailor-made for interpretation on the big screen, in that respect.

New costume, new actor, same hero
Of course, that hasn’t happened and we’ve now got a new trailer for this summer’s “The Amazing Spider-Man”, as helmed by the oh-so-appropriately named Marc Webb, who also made “500 Days of Summer” and seems at first glance to be an intriguingly off-beat choice to helm a massive summer comic book franchise – from quirky, time-juggling romantic comedy to $200 million plus 3D juggernaut in no time at all.
On the evidence of this first trailer, though, Webb seems to have brought his skill in working with younger actors to bear and seems equally comfortable with the balance of action sequences, effects work, romance, comedy and 3D technology which a movie like this calls for.
“The Amazing Spider-Man” opens worldwide from late June (you lucky Kiwis!) this year.

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