Saturday, July 7, 2012

The Amazing Spider-Man

If you enjoy any portion of the superhero trend in movies of the last fifteen years or so (Has it been that long? I don't know...) then you know that recently the Spider-Man franchise has been rebooted from the trilogy made with Toby McGuire and recast with Andrew Garfield as everyone's favorite wall crawler. I have to say that when I first heard (Read?) the news a couple of years back or so that an actor who was considered as a teen "heart-throb" was going to be playing the precocious Peter Parker as well as my favorite Marvelite Hero, I wanted to bang my head against the wall and scream, "Parker is NOT a heart-throb! He's the geekiest damn science nerd who ever crawled out of the high school of obscurity and made people believe that superheroes were actually real human beings!" Okay, maybe I did scream that, but it was in the privacy of my own living room, which doubles as my office, since I am a full-time fiction writer, but there was no one around other than my two cats and all they ever do during one of my rants is yawn, stretch and roll over into a new position on the couch, carpet, dining room table, kitchen counter, my keyboard or wherever else they happen to be laying at the moment.

Still, I puffed out my cheeks, exhaled a whole damn bunch of times and shook my head vigorously before deciding to just wait it out and see how it went with this new actor.

Today I ventured alone, since my son was busy at home with his two kids and his girlfriend's daughter and a bunch of stuff he needed to do and couldn't go with me, although I know he wanted to. I decided that if the movie was any good and worthwhile I would take my son and grandkids to see Spidey later on and shell out the extra bucks for me to see it again, just because that's the way I am with these superhero flicks if I like them.

Naturally I was over an hour early and bought my ticket, then wandered about the mall a bit until I was still nearly an hour early and the previous showing had yet to finish so those within could vacate the theater. When the janitors completed their sweep-through of the aisles I took my place (Some say it's more like I am assuming my throne, since I always take the same seats at the position I consider to be the very best seats in the house and the reason why I get there so early) in my seat and waited through the preliminary features the movie theaters make us slog through these days. I mean, seriously, I DVR all the TV shows I like just so I don't have to watch commercials and have the ability to fast-forward through them and then I pay big bucks at the theater to see those same commercials all the way through. Sheesh. Gimme a break.

The movie finally began and the similarity between Peter Parker and this new, younger actor was immediately obvious. This kid might be a heart-throb to certain teenage girls (Those that are perhaps twelve years old?), but to me he personified the geeky science nerd that is Peter Parker. Okay, one hurdle out of the way, but what about...

As the movie played on the changes were obvious. Gone was the iconic scene where Parker, dressed in his make-shift "Human Spider" costume ventures to the arena so he can make the money to buy himself a car as a wrestler. In its place was...Well, you'll have to watch the movie to know how they went about this area of Spidey's history in order to get Uncle Ben to that place where he is killed by the guy Peter refused to stop for committing a crime. Obviously they wanted this movie to be completely different while still retaining the flavor of the origin story for Spidey and in my opinion, it worked very well and was more up-to-date than using a wrestling sequence.

Once Peter put himself through the paces and Spider-Man was born I nodded my head and decided that yes, this kid was every bit as good in the role of Spider-Man as he was in the role of his secret identity. Two hurdles out of the way.

The actress chosen to portray Gwen Stacey (Emma Stone) would not have been my choice, since her eyes were slightly too far apart for my taste and her mouth a bit wide as well, and then she spoke and her voice, which was a bit too raspy, grated slightly on my nerves and eardrums. But throughout the movie she proved she has the ability to act well enough to make herself believable as Peter's first girlfriend, according to the comics, not the old movie franchise, where I always wondered why they had Petey with MJ instead of Gwen, who was his girlfriend in the comics until she was killed by the Green Goblin. There was even a scene toward the very end where everything is getting all dramatic that her portrayal actually made my eyes tears up. I think it was more something getting in my eye at that moment than the story-line, yeah, that must be it.

The one seriously jarring note for me was the way the Lizard looked. Perhaps they were basing his appearance on the most recent Marvel characterization of this scientist-turned-villain, I don't know, since I haven't read the comics since about 1979, but I was used to how Dr. Curtis Connors' reptilian "giant gecko" villain looked in the comics and this grinning gargoyle with the hideous, deep, stupid-sounding voice was not it. There were redeeming qualities to this villain, but his face was not one of them and I am someone who has been waiting for the appearance of the Lizard ever since the very first time I saw Dr. Connors presented as Peter's science professor in college in the earlier franchise.

Okay, I lied; one last thing I did not like about the movie was the ease with which Parker was able to come up with a rubberized Spidey costume. I mean, the comics he sews his own costume out of regular cloth and his sewing is shown in the movie as well, but really? Where did this kid even get this rubberized material in webbing pattern, let alone the ability to sew it seamlessly and make it actually work for him without splitting at the seams? And his rubberized booties instead of the socks used in the comics, because, naturally, as every comics geek knows, Spidey has to have a thin material on his feet so his wall-crawling powers will work, right? How does this work when he's wearing two-inch thick soles? Aaarrrgghh! Okay, settle down and just go with the flow, bub, go with the flow...

All-in-all I came out of the theater (The first person in and the last person out, as usual) with the feeling that as much as I had enjoyed Toby McGuire's Spider-Man acting ability, in my mind Andrew Garfield is the new Amazing Spider-Man. I look forward to seeing what he can do in future movies of Ole Webhead.

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