Friday, August 3, 2012

The Amazing Spider-Man (2012) * * * *

I have to confess, I'm a huge fan of superheroes. Let me explain why. I come from a family of readers. My mum could read at the age of five, and she read War and Peace by eight. I went to school at the age of six, but I struggled in the beginning with reading. Then, I got my first comic book. It was black and white, and it had a little-known character called the Phantom, who lived in a rainforest probably somewhere in Africa. He was an environmental superhero, saving animals, punishing polluters. Comic books got me into reading and superheroes, for which I will always be grateful.
My favourite character has always been Spider-Man. On the one hand, because he's human. Superman is great, but he's a Kryptonian, with his own personal body-armour skin. On the other hand, because even though Spider-Man is a scientist, and a photographer, he's still an average guy with money problems. He's not like Bruce Wayne, who gets to live in a big mansion, and has no worries about where his next meal is going to come from. Spider-Man, in spite of the supernatural elements, was always the most real superhero for me.

I try to watch every movie adaptation. I had on VHS an old adaptation, that somehow got lost in time, as I can't even find a reference to it anywhere on the internet. The tape is long lost, but I have vivid memories about how Spidey strapped his camera on the wall and tried to take pictures of himself.

So I was excited about a new movie coming out, and in 3D! So I went the first chance I got.

The 3D is used nicely, though at times I could still see that the people working on it had two dimensions in mind. There were some scenes, where the camera angles could have been used differently to bring out the full 3D effect. I think it's very important for the audience to sometimes feel like they could touch the objects on the screen, but that was very few and far between.

The story was interesting. Now the casual observer may think that it's a retelling of the 2002 story. That is not true. Of course, he gets bitten, turns all spider-like, has a girl he's trying to go after, but that is where the similarities stop. This is an alternate universe as opposed to the previous movies. In this universe, there is a mystery surrounding Peter Parker's parents, which he is going after. I stop here, as I don't want to spoil it. Let's just say that nor the girl, nor the villain are the same.
One story element that the movie did well was the way they brought in the fact that the people often feel Spider-Man as someone close to them. In the previous trilogy this could be seen in the second movie, where the people tried to help him in the metro. There is a similar scene in this movie as well. It's very American, but also uplifting and touching in a slightly cheesy way.

The actors did a good job. Andrew Garfield is a slightly more hip, and more attractive Peter Parker. He is somewhat darker, but more appealing for the female population. Emma Stone is a long favourite of mine, and I was delighted to see her in the movie. I'm really glad she's getting more recognised. Her comic talent is also well brought out in a scene where she tries to hide Spider-Man in her bedroom. It's also nice to see that you don't have to have a squeaky voice to play a lead actress.
The other characters are played by well-established actors and actresses as well, though the story generally concentrates on the two young lovebirds and Dr. Connors played by Rhys Ifans, who you're not sure about even at the end.

Overall, it was a good reboot for the franchise. It's by no means a repeat of the earlier, but it still feels like Spider-Man. Fans like me will love it, and perhaps it may get new converts with the mystery element of the parents' death, and the new love story.

There was definite foreshadowing for the sequel, and I look forward to it.

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