Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Spider-Man is, well, Amazing

Pardon the long, long interruption of this blog. Happily, I'm back and rarin' to go...out in Omaha!
Let's begin by looking at the latest motion picture release, the one that opened at 11:50 last night, July 3. 
That, of course, would be The Amazing Spider-Man.

The reboot of the series that started less than a decade ago with Toby McGuire has burst upon the screen – in 3D and IMAX no less – with a new title hero, Andrew Garfield.
The story returns to Spider-Man's beginnings as Peter Parker, complete with the mysterious disappearance of his parents, his being raised by his aunt and uncle (the well-cast Sally Field and Martin Sheen), and being bitten by a spider while on a sort of field trip.
But this Spider-Man is edgier and actually more believable. He really acts like an ordinary teenager (which for a 29-year-old actor is impressive). He worries a lot – about having a crush on fellow student Gwen (a radiant Emma Stone), being bullied by a bunch of nitwits at school, and about why and how his parents died (?). 
When he first discovers his new abilities after that fateful bite, he has a bit of fun with them (what boy wouldn't like to virtually fly?), and then when things take a dark turn, he uses them to exact revenge.
His actions turn him into someone wanted by the police, whose chief just happens to be Gwen's father (Denis Leary).
But when his unique abilities are needed for good, he steps up to the plate. And when things go wrong, they go really, really wrong. His father's former partner, Dr. Curt Conners (a very good Rhys Ifans), with Peter's help, takes what was a promising medical breakthrough and uses it unwisely to say the least as he transforms into a hideous lizard. That's when the special spider effects rally go on steroids.
All that is all the more impressive in 3D, to say nothing of IMAX.
Those two film treatments have undergone a real transformation in terms of their watchability. Yes, we still have to wear the glasses, but at least they're comfortable. We no longer have to put up with fuzzy red/green moments or stomach-churning, vertigo-inspiring action. Well, some of the action is supposed to be like that, but that's another story.
Anyway, the end result is a beautiful film, crystal clear and awe-inspiring, Those "flying" sequences are really beautiful, if a little bit terrifying.
So, should you go?
Did you like the first version? I'm betting you'll like this one even more. I really love the new Peter Parker. And the chemistry between Peter and Gwen is palpable (it doesn't hurt that they are an item in "real" life). All of the acting is really good, believable, never over the top. 
Ifans is a far cry from his goofy character in Notting Hill; he's all grown up and likable when he isn't turning into a lizard monster.
Even Spider-Man's creator Stan Lee makes a cameo in a very funny scene in the school library.
The film's violence and occasional gory bits make it a PG-13, but, refreshingly, the language is "G" (one of Peter's curses is "Mother Hubbard"). 
I loved the heart of this, the good acting, the great look of it, and the eye-popping action. It is a fun, fun summer film and one of the best action movies in recent years. I recommend it for all those who like fast action, smart actors, dialogue that rings true, and a little sentiment to boot. It's a little dark, but not as dark at the current Batman series.
Go ahead. Go see it. In 3D. In IMAX if possible. Let it spin its web around you!

Three and a half (out of four) reels

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