I liked the first Amazing Spider-Man quite a bit. Everything I have been seeing about the second installment makes me dubious. This trailer has some high points and some low points but I do think that within the world they are building a lot of what they are doing makes sense. Would I prefer a more classic take on Rhino and Electro? Sure. But I think I’ll give this a shot before I tear it apart.
You know what came out in theaters ten years ago? The first Spider-Man movie. It has only been five years since Spider-Man 3 hit screens. That seems like a short turnaround for a reboot on a major franchise. But I suppose it had to happen. No way was Sony going to let such a cash cow sit on hiatus just because Tobey Maguire and crew didn’t want to play ball. They wanted to make sure that they were getting their money’s worth with the character. That’s why we got this reboot. Money. It’s not about an artistic vision or building a world the way the Marvel cinematic experiment has been, though those films have been an exercise in aggregating money as well. This is a film about maintaining possession of a character first and foremost. Does that mean that it isn’t a good movie? Not at all. In fact I’ll go out on a limb and say that I enjoyed this take on the character more than I did in Sam Raimi’s trilogy. What I have to wonder is if this film will have its merits overshadowed by the circumstances of its own existence.
While the film is in no way connected to the Marvel cinematic universe and the Avengers franchise, the tendency in those films to mine more from the Ultimate universe of comics carries over here. Many elements of Brian Michael Bendis’ work on the title finds its way here. At the same time, there are just as many elements taken from classic Spider-Man stories of the sixties and seventies. Even the look of the Lizard is taken from the silver age rendition of the character as opposed to the current animal-like interpretation. The current look, which seems to evoke more of a crocodile appearance, a sharp contrast to the original appearances which retain more of the human features of Curt Conners which seems to be what the filmmakers were going for in their adaptation. I know there have been some comments about the design being evocative of the Super Mario Bros film goombahs but judged within the confines of the film it works well.
The quickest rundown I can give of the movie is that everybody does their respective parts very, very well. I didn’t have many doubts about Andrew Garfield or Emma Stone. Having seen their recent filmography I knew they were going to do well. I had a few more reservations about Martin Sheen as Uncle Ben and Sally Field as Aunt Mae. Martin Sheen gives the film a bit of gravitas that it might have lacked otherwise. He makes the role his own, he really does. Sally Field doesn’t really get the chance to do anything at all. I can’t say that she disappointed me because she really didn’t get the chance. Denis Leary does a good job as Capt. Stacy, giving him a real sense of blue collar weight that works for the character and even though his arc is somewhat truncated, his presence in the film works to fill the hole left by a lack of J. Jonah Jameson, as shoehorning in the Daily Bugle would have made the movie seem overly bloated.
There are honest points to be made for this one being the best Spider-Man film to date. The interplay between Peter and Gwen is excellent, the action scenes are impeccably filmed, the cast is about as top notch as you could hope for and while the origin story is repetitive the makers of the film were able to differentiate it from the previous trilogy enough that you’re never bored. That was my biggest reservation about the film; that the origin would be so dull that it would overshadow anything that may have made the film worthwhile. I’m happy that I was wrong, as the streamlined take on the death of Uncle Ben as well as the nod to the infamous wrestling match are handled in such a way that they feel fresh and entertaining. I really was quite surprised.
I may have said some bad things about the film before I even got a chance to say it but I’ll eat my words and say that I was wrong. The Amazing Spider-Man is well worth your time. Don’t let the lackluster previews fool you, this thing is the real deal.
Here’s Marvel’s obligatory press release:
CULVER CITY, Calif., July 1, 2010 – After a comprehensive worldwide casting search, Andrew Garfield has been chosen to portray Peter Parker when Spider-Man swings back onto the screen in 3D on July 3, 2012. The new film will begin production in early December directed by Marc Webb from a screenplay by James Vanderbilt. Laura Ziskin and Avi Arad will produce the film from Columbia Pictures and Marvel Studios.
Today’s confirmation culminates what has been one of the most eagerly anticipated casting announcements in recent memory. Bloggers, pop culture speculators, and everyday fans have pored over and analyzed every conceivable online rumor in an attempt to discover the identity of the next actor to play Peter Parker. Garfield will immediately begin preparing for the coveted role.
The Spider-Man franchise is one of the most successful in film history and the three previous motion pictures have collectively grossed more than $2.5 billion in worldwide box office.
On selecting Garfield, director Marc Webb said, “Though his name may be new to many, those who know this young actor’s work understand his extraordinary talents. He has a rare combination of intelligence, wit, and humanity. Mark my words, you will love Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker.”
Commenting on the announcement, Amy Pascal, co-chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment, and Matt Tolmach, President of Columbia Pictures said, “Spider-Man is a classic superhero — a young man who balances his responsibility to serve humanity and crush evil with the shyness and normalcy of someone struggling to find himself. The role demands an extraordinary actor. You need someone who can magically transform himself from Peter Parker into Spider-Man. An actor who will depict the vulnerability of youth and the strength and confidence of a legendary figure at the same moment. We have found that actor in Andrew Garfield. From the first time we saw him in the upcoming film The Social Network, to his glorious screen test, which floored all of us, we knew that we had found our new Peter Parker.”
Producer Avi Arad added, “I’m incredibly excited about Andrew Garfield. In the Spider-Man tradition, we were looking for a smart, sensitive, and cool new Peter Parker who can inspire us and make us laugh, cry, and cheer. We believe we have found the perfect choice to take on this role and lead us into the future.”
Producer Laura Ziskin said, “We are thrilled to have Andrew Garfield for this new incarnation of Spider-Man under Marc Webb’s direction. We were fortunate enough to meet with a group of fantastically talented young men. In the end, we all agreed that in addition to being an extraordinary actor, Andrew had the right mix of humor, youth, and pathos, along with an underlying sense of strength and power necessary to bring Peter Parker and Spider-Man to life on screen.”
The selection of Garfield was revealed at a press event in Cancun, Mexico for international journalists attending a media tour promoting upcoming films from Sony Pictures Entertainment. B-roll footage of the announcement will be available via satellite later this evening — see uplink times coordinate information below.
Garfield is fast becoming one of the most respected and sought-after young actors working in the industry today. In a short career, spanning only five years, he has already been directed by, and starred alongside, some of the greatest names and received a BAFTA for a role that won him international praise.
Garfield most recently worked with director David Fincher on the upcoming film The Social Network. He previously starred for Spike Jonze on his robot love story I’m Here, which premiered at Sundance this year. He plays the lead male opposite Keira Knightley and Carey Mulligan in Mark Romanek’s Never Let Me Go, due for release later this year.
Other notable screen credits include Terry Gilliam’s The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus playing opposite Christopher Plummer, Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell, Jude Law and the late Heath Ledger, Robert Redford’s Lions For Lambs, where he starred alongside Redford, Tom Cruise and Meryl Streep; Revolution Films’ “Red Riding Trilogy – 1974” directed by Julian Jarrold, where he lead a stellar cast including Rebecca Hall and David Morrissey, and his unforgettable portrayal of a young ex-con in John Crowley’s “Boy A,” for which he earned the best actor BAFTA in 2008.
Garfield’s career began in theatre and in 2006 his performances in “Beautiful Thing” (Sound Space/Kit Productions), “The Overwhelming,” and “Burn / Chatroom / Citizenship” (Royal National Theatre) won him the Milton Shulman Award for Outstanding Newcomer at the Evening Standard awards and the Jack Tinker Award for Most Promising Newcomer at the Critics Circle Theatre Awards. Other notable theatre credits include “Romeo and Juliet” (Manchester Royal Exchange) and “Kes” (Manchester Royal Exchange), for which he received the Most Promising Newcomer Award at the Manchester Evening News Awards 2004.
Never seen anything he’s done, so I’m reserving judgement. I’ll just say that I would have preferred Donald Glover. That is all.