Welcome to The Mundane Adventures of a Fangirl

I consider myself a Fangirl. What does that mean, you ask? A "fanboy" in the most common understanding is a hardcore fan of 'genre' based entertainment in particular. In my case - science-fiction and comic book based movies and television. Because I'm a chick - it's fangirl, not fanboy. There you have it! I am a big movie fan, however, not necessarily a 'film' fan. And now - I have the forum to present my opinions to the public! These will mainly be movie reviews -that will always be my opinion - repeat OPINION. Just what I think, and in no way do I present my opinion as fact. I hope you enjoy and maybe it will help you decide what to see at the movie theater this weekend!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Movie Review: Amazing Spiderman (PG13 - 136 minutes)

Spider-man was originally created in 1962 by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko.  He first appeared in Amazing Fantasy #15, and swiftly became Marvel Comics most popular and flagship character.  He was something new in the comics universe:  a teenage superhero at a time when most teenagers were stuck with being sidekicks.  Stan Lee realized that teenageers were the main readers of comics, and that they would relate to a hero like themselves.  Peter Parker has always been described as a "wallflower" or shy, quiet, science nerd.  He struggles with fitting in, with making money, and caring for his elderly aunt and uncle.  Getting bitten by a radioactive spider while watching a science experiement gives him extraordinary powers.  He at first uses them to make money in an amateur wrestling circuit, where he fails to stop a robber, claiming it's not his responsibilty.  He learns later, when that same robber murders his Uncle Ben, "with great power, there must also come great responsibility!"   Here's the wiki link if you want to learn more about Spiderman, he has a very interesting history!  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spiderman  Incidentally, the comic pictured below goes for around $120,000.00.
Spiderman has been on TV on and off since 1967.  Most fun was during the Electric Company, which was usually narrated by Morgan Freeman, before he got famous for narrating things.  In the below clip, he's not narrating, he's playing a police officer - too awesome.
My favorite Spiderman TV version is the 1994 Fox animated series, it essentially pulled all of it's stories direct from the comics, and was really well done.
Inevitably, Spiderman was destined to come to the big screen, and first made it there in 2002 in Sam Raimi's SpiderMan, starring Tobey McGuire, Kirstin Dunst, Willem Dafoe, and James Franco.
It was exceptional - the best comic movie up to that point, maintaining the tone and feel of Spiderman from the original comics with fantastic performances from everyone involved.  It was followed by Spiderman 2, featuring Alfred Molina as Doctor Octopus, which was equally as good if not slightly better than the first one.  Those two successes were followed by the abyssmal SpiderMan 3.  Thomas Hayden Church was fantastic as Sandman, and had the movie stuck with only using Sandman as a villian, it may have been much better.  However, Raimi, caving to fan demand, also attempted to enter Venom, Spiderman's most popular villian (and my single favorite Marvel character), into the movie.  Venom is tricky to do under the best circumstances, and attempting to shove him into a movie with too many other characters doesn't really work.
That was such a disappoinment, no one was clamouring for another Spiderman movie.  However, because Columbia/Sony had the rights to Spiderman, and were about to lose them to Marvel - a concern now that Marvel had become a legitimate movie studio through the careful Avengers release plan (I criticized the plan when they first announced it, how wrong was I?) - Comlumbia/Sony asked Raimi/McGuire for another Spiderman.  They agreed, but didn't want to do it in the timeframe necessary to maintain rights.  So, here we are, a scant five years after the last Spiderman, with a reboot.
This reboot is a slight re-imagining of the Spiderman orgin story, which, in the 2002 movie, was almost shot for shot the same as it was in the comics.  This movie is directed by Mark Webb, who has previously only done the quirkly love story 500 Days of Summer, starring the amazing Joseph Gordon Levitt and the annoying Zooey Deschanel.  It's a great movie, and if you haven't seen it, you should Netflix it now.  He seems like an odd choice for this movie, but if you remember that Spiderman is all about teen romatic drama, it is a fitting choice. 
It terms of plot, Andrew Garfield plays Peter Parker, an awkward teen who lost his parents and lives with his aunt and uncle and attempts to romance his high school crush Gwen Stacey.  He gets bitten by a radioactive spider, creates web-shooters, looses his uncle in a random murder that he could have stopped, and has to do battle with the Lizard, who is actually a scientist friend of his who transformed into the Lizard after injecting reptile DNA into himself in an attempt to regrow his lost arm: you know, standard spiderman-type stuff.  Webb directs it with a surprising amount of naturalness and ease, and the effects look crisp and believable, especially in the 3D version.
In terms of cast, I felt like everything was just about perfect here.
  • Andrew Garfield, the young british actor best known for the Social Network, is an admitted Spiderman fan from the age of 3 and was thrilled to get the chance to star as Spiderman.  He has said that the first time he put on the suit - he broke down in tears!  That is the level of appreciation I want from a superhero movie start - not someone like McGuire, who badmouthed Spiderman from time to time.  Garfield is fantastic in this, equal parts socially awkward as Peter and joyfully exuberant as Spiderman.  He plays the role like he has always wanted to.  Also - his leaner, lither physique fits the web-swinging well.
  • The fantastic Emma Stone plays Gwen Stacy: smart, sassy and attracted to Peter because of his brains, exactly as she was in the comics, where she debuted in 1965.  Their chemistry is natural and fun.  If you haven't seen her in EasyA, Netflix it now.
  • Rhys Ifans plays Dr. Curt Conners, who will become the lizard.  The Lizard was first introduced in 1963.  Ifans is good, but always comes off a little reptilian, even when not the Lizard.  It's an odd choice, because Conners has traditionally been a friend to Peter, a likeable guy.  I can't tell if it's Ifans himself, or the choice he made to play him that way, but he comes off as really creepy.
  • Denis Leary shows up as Captain Stacy.  Leary excels at playing New York anything, he was amazing on Rescue Me, and is very good in this.  The last scene between he and Garfield was incredible. 
  • Marin Sheen is as good as he normally is, playing Uncle Ben.  He never quite utters the famous line, but he gets close.   He is genuine and believable, his dentures on the other hand...
  • Sally Field is a good choice as Aunt May - bringing back some of her Steel Magnolias parental concern.
  • Irrfan Khan, an well known actor in India, brings in the Pete Postlewaite Kobyashi (Usual Suspects) effect as Norman Osborn's mouthpiece here.  He's slimy and malicious, and could be quite the villian on his own. 
  • Chris Zylka takes over Flash Thompson from Joe Maganiello and is passable as a high school bully/jock. 
  • C.Thomas Howell shows up as a man who's son Spiderman saves, and a crane operator that becomes key in a climatic, and very touching, final sequence.
All in all, I really enjoyed this movie.  I was surprised by how well done it was, how great the effects were, and how much I suddenly found myself looking forward to the next one!  This is a great foundation, and as much as I love Emma Stone, I am just a bit excited for who they will bring in as Mary Jane, and if she will get to say her famous line correctly. 
Go see this, you'll enjoy it - the 3D is great for the web-swinging, but not necessary -you could see it regular and still be entertained.
8 out of 10!  Hooray for another great Spidey!  Lost points for the spider bite scene, hundreds of them rain on him, gives me chills just thinking about it.  Gained points for the Stan Lee cameo - awesome.  Lost points for the Lizard not wearing his lab coat all the time, like he is supposed to!  Gained points for the incredibly awkward exchange when Peter sort of asks Gwen out.  It's so cute!
Bonus Video 1:  Marc Webb's 500 Days of Summer dance sequence, the best part of that movie:
Bonus Video 2:  Venom in the 1994 animated series...oh we can hope that he'll get another chance on the big screen!
Bonus Video 3:  More Electric Company - yay!
Bonus Video 4:  Cast and Crew Interviews!

1 comment:

  1. I had no idea C.Thomas Howell was in this. In the next movie they could have Soul Man Vs. Spiderman