On The Edge Films

Cinematic Thoughts for Cinematic Minds

On DVD: The Amazing Spiderman

amazing-spider-man-garfield-handcuffed

2012/ USA

Director: Marc Webb

Starring: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans, Denis Leary, Martin Sheen, Sally Field, Irrfan Khan

Many questions may arise when you think about buying this film on DVD if you’ve yet to see it. Like me, I was sceptic about the need to re-make a film that was only released ten years a go. However with that in mind we must cast our eye back over Sam Raimi‘s original Spiderman Trilogy.

Released in 2002 ‘Spider-man‘ directed by famed ‘Evil Dead’ creator Sam Raimi was a relative success. Playing  on the cheese and lighter side of Marvel’s most famed character. Pitching the teen Peter Parker played by Tobey Maguire against the infamous Green Goblin played by Willem Dafoe. All in all a rather good film and a decent origins story. The subsequent sequels lacked quality however, ‘Spider-man 2’ was filled with errors and downfalls. Peter Parker gives up being Spiderman in a bid to woo Mary- Jane played by Kirsten Dunst and he lets a subway train full of people see his face and therefore his identity. ‘Spider-man 3’ was even worse, here our hero is fighting three villains at once. He spends the majority of the film fighting the awful Sandman and only comes toe to toe with the much anticipated Venom for about five minutes. Harry Osbourne played by James Franco becomes the new Green Goblin but is ultimately pathetically portrayed. Gone is the costume and glider from the first film in place of a gay looking mask and what appears to be a flying snow board. Parker also spends a lot of the film in the black symbiote suit. In one scene he even gets on stage in a jazz club and dances. The awful summary of this trilogy saw Raimi’s planned 4th entry cancelled in favour of a return to Spiderman’s routes… a new origins story and the start of a whole new trilogy entirely.

Now you may be mistaken for thinking that Marvel and Sony were looking to cash in on the “Christopher Nolan” market. You may think that this is simply Spider-man Begins but it’s actually very different from the new Batman trilogy. So the real question is, how is different from Raimi’s original?

WELL

The key aspect of the re-imagining of this character is back story. In the original we are offered a brief look at Parker’s home life, his unpopularity at school and his desire for Mary- Jane. Then he gets bitten, wakes up with a six pack and decides to be a super hero after he kills his Uncle’s murderer. Then enter bad guys galore and little character study, bundles of action over three films and then disappointment.

What director Marc Webb has done stems from his previous directorial work. Well know for indie hit ‘500 Days of Summer’ Webb’s background in independent cinema aids his portrayal of Spiderman. We see Parker’s parents and how they are embroiled with the mystery that drags Parker into the world of Oscorp and its corruption. We see how the absence of his parents has affected his life, making him feel isolated and alone.

Andrew Garfield is a far better actor and gives a performance that will make us completely forget Tobey Maguire and his wet acting… in time. Garfield similarly to Webb has built a career in solid character based films in which he gave stunning efforts as an actor, films like ‘Never Let Me Go’, ‘The Social Network’ and the TV drama ‘Red Riding’ all show his talents are more honed than ham unlike Maguire.

Replacing Mary- Jane with Gwen Stacy played here by Emma Stone was the first step by Webb to sync up the Spiderman films with the comic book stories. Stacy is Spiderman’s first love, a fellow science geek too which only makes her a more sensible choice of love interest. Mary- Jane has been cast in the sequel to this film which will provide a very interesting love triangle but Webb is keeping in line with what Spiderman readers expect and know of his story.

Spiderman’s web shooters are back! Hooray for that… Raimi abolished the idea of the hero reliant on gadgets and put the famous webs inside Parker’s arms. If you know anything about Spiderman you will know this is highly incorrect and thankfully Webb has brought this key aspect back into play.

No Spiderman film would be right without a good villain and in Rhys Ifans as Dr Kurt Connors we have yet another excellent example of how to do villains and one that shows how bad previous attempts by Raimi were, thank god he never got his hands on Carnage. The really interesting part about Connors is that he is a villain acting out his evil plans within a larger villainous structure. We see the silhouette of Norman Osbourne who will eventually become the Green Goblin in later films as Peter moves up the escalator to Connor’s office in the Oscorp building. A big hint to the villain that we will see in ‘The Amazing Spiderman 2′ Connors is not top dog, he is being controlled from above and tasked with preserving Osbourne’s life and not his own. The Lizard monster he becomes is also fantastic, playing on the ridiculous and fun side of Marvel often exploited by Raimi. There was no attempt to make The Lizard realistic… this is a comic book movie after all not the visceral Nolan Batman universe. Yet there is an interesting Jekyll and Hyde type relationship that spawns between Connors and the monster as the film progresses.

All in all the tone of the film is darker, we see the human effects that being a super- hero entails. After all Spiderman is super strong but he isn’t invincible, he hurts the same as you or I. It really doesn’t feel like a big effects blockbuster at all. The Amazing Spiderman really does feel like an independent small budget film yet still feels big enough to hold the character and give us a decent slice of Spiderman action. Similar to Mendes’ ‘Skyfall’ this film feels like a series of smaller events within a wider world and it is exciting to think about how the character will expand into it. Electro has already been touted as a possible villain and we know that at some point we will see an all new Green Goblin… its very entertaining to think about the sequels at this point.

The only thing missing due to legal reasons is the famous tag line “with great power, comes great responsibility” uttered by the dying Uncle Ben (Sheen). There is an attempt to replace it but that really doesn’t have the same impact but we move on and forget it in minutes.

Next to ‘Avengers Assemble’ and ‘The Dark Knight Rises‘ there is a chance that this film has been overlooked by many film fans. But in reality in terms of tone it falls in between both of the previously mentioned films. Its fun and just dark enough to make us believe in what we are seeing. It’s possibly the best of the all the super- hero films we’ve had in 2012 even though its a re-boot of a re-make it proves that Spiderman is one of if not the world’s most loved comic book hero. Hats off to Webb and Garfield they have done the unthinkable and given the fans what they deserve a truly Amazing Spiderman in name and in cinema.

5/5

-Josh Senior

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