Tag Archives: Spider-Man

“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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Film review: “Chronicle”

“Chronicle” is a divisive movie.  Trust me on this – when we watched this tale of teens with mysteriously acquired superpowers, my wife and I couldn’t have had more different opinions on it.  Spoilers, of a kind, may follow…

Beware those Emo kids at the mall – they’re gonna psychically mess with your shopping cart!

The marvellous Mrs Rolling Eyeballs was, to say the least, less than engaged by the film.  She hated the characters and felt that the story was non-existent.  Whilst I will concur that the story is fairly threadbare and that the protagonists were very much ‘types’ and not exactly boldly drawn, I really quite enjoyed Josh Trank’s debut film and marvelled at what he pulled together on a budget which might cover a single action sequence in “The Avengers”.

Would you trust these boys with super powers?

Starring nobody that you’ve heard of – though lead Dane DeHaan is the spitting image of a young Leonardo DiCaprio – “Chronicle” goes the “Spider-Man“/classic Marvel Comics route in gifting a disparate trio of high school lads with uncanny, telepathy-derived powers and seeing how they use/abuse them for personal gain.

So far, so predictable.  Where “Chronicle” scores best for me is in giving us teenage characters who behave probably as you might do if you found yourself wearing their Converses – rather than flitting around town stopping crime and being upstanding members of the community, these dudes prank unsuspecting mall shoppers and zip into mid-air for a swift kick-about (interrupted rudely by a passenger jet).

For the first part of the film – before things go positively David Fincher – this nerd troika reacts to their good fortune by using it for selfish gain and giggles and things only go south when DeHaan’s put-upon, abused nerd Andrew finds his reliance on his extraordinary gifts taking him to very dark, bully-destroying, patricidal, places indeed.

If you can get past the ‘found footage’ conceit – Andrew videotapes everything, in an effort to document his alcoholic father’s regular beatings – this is a very different take on the coming of age superhero origin story which we see so often.  The action sequences are remarkably effective – the climax being a particularly well-executed example of mass civic mayhem rendered on a budget more akin to Kevin Smith’s films than Un Film De Michael Bay – and give a tantalising hint of what an “X-Men” spin-off might look like if the makers of Channel Four‘s parent-worrying teen drama “Skins” got their mitts on the Fox franchise.

It’s an impressive debut and makes you wonder what director Josh Trank might do with the multiple projects – “Spider-Man” spin-off, “Venom”, the “Fantastic Four” reboot and video game adaptation, “Shadow of the Colossus” – that he’s attached to develop.

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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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Three Point Wow

Via the fine folks at SFX comes this little slice of genius video wittily delineating a modern pop culture cliché which now has a name – the three-point landing.

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You’ve seen it in films, video games, tv shows and music videos and wondered what it was and now a very helpful supercut video has shown us the light.

Worryingly enough, a great many of my favourite things appear in that video, which either indicates that the creators of my favourite flicks are indulging in predictably geeky tropes ahoy or that my taste in pop culture tends more towards super-powered, ass kicking sci-fi fantasy than period drama and high-octane emoting.

C’est la vie and all that.

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Venom spin-off to lick audiences inappropriately?

For some reason, this week has become a comics news special – not sure why, but I go where the nerdery is.

Fresh from quite a few people liking his debut feature, effed-up geek superhero cautionary tale “Chronicle”, director Josh Trank is being linked to a putative “Spider-Man” spin-off featuring fragrant, delightful and in no way sociopathic anti-hero, Venom.  The LA Times’ ’24 Frames’ blog has more.

What a delight he must be at the dinner table.

You may remember him from the tag-team of villains who rocked-up to make Peter Parker’s life a merry hell in the third “Spider-Man” film.

And now, if you wouldn’t mind, a moment of silence for those of us still living with our painful memories of that particular sequel and its arguable nadir, Emo Spidey.

If I might be so bold, though, the one thing about that movie which wasn’t as stinky as a pallet of week-old fish would have been Topher Grace’s excellent performance as embittered shutterbug Eddie Brock, whose embodiment of alien symbiote heel Venom was clearly one of the most watchable things in the film.

In the way of these things, however, that’s probably for the birds and Sony’s primary concern will possibly be to run interference and possibly use one of those nifty Men In Black memory erasing pens to convince us that “Spider-Man 3” never happened and that Venom’s an entirely new character which we’ve never seen before on screen!

Sony apparently wish to pitch Venom as a dark anti-hero in the Wolverine mode – albeit with more slurping and a singularly unpleasant costume.  I’ll go out on a limb and say that we’ll see this in 2014, prior to the second in the new “Spider-Man” series with Andrew Garfield, cause I’m crazy like that.

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