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I went to the screening of The Amazing Spiderman last night and enjoyed it even more than The Avengers. I think it was because Peter Parker has more humanity than the demi gods and super powered ones. I liked that goodies weren't all good, and baddies weren't all bad; rather the lines were blurred and it felt more real for it.
I was surprised to see that this latest 2012 instalment of the Marvel classic - which is an attempt to reboot some energy and integrity into the lagging (albeit 3.5 million-taking at the last box office!) franchise - redoes the story from the beginning, rather than carrying on the story.
It is all performed in excellent 3D - some of the best I have seen - and I found myself actually ducking as things flew out of the screen. After seeing Ice Age 4's pretty average 3D this was refreshing. A particularly well done sequence was Parker skateboarding with his new-found spider skills.
Another technical change was that Parker can't throw his own web (which I always found a bit weird and icky) but attaches wristwatch-like engineered spider cables. I wasn't sure why the writers made this change, after all, if we can believe he's part spider, we can believe he makes his own web organically.
It takes the story back to Peter Parker (played by Andrew Garfield) seeing his parents leaving him with his Aunt May (Sally Field) and Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen), leaving behind a briefcase of scientific formula. Instead of Parker being a young adult working at a newspaper and flatting alone in squalor, he is still a 17 year old student with a photography hobby and a crush on the pretty girl at school, Emma Stone. Who wouldn't have?
I do think the previous Spiderman movies, however - with Kirsten Dunst playing love interest Mary Jane Watson - did the romance bit very well. Dunst played a broken-home girl who seemed a little too good/beautiful for the nerdy Parker played by Tobey Maguire, who was way over-shadowed by his bestie James Franco. In The Amazing Spiderman however, Parker has morphed into a James Franco (in hair, anyway) lookalike. We were surprised they didn't touch-up his chin pimples though if they can retouch off Rhys Ifans' entire right arm.
A note has to be made on Emma Stone - playing police chief's (Denis Leary) daughter Gwen Stacy - and her styling. I loved the fashion in particular the polkadot kneelength skirts, kneehigh boots, and a cerulean blue (very Devil Wears Prada) sweater with a velvet bow at the back of the neck she wears for her first kiss with Parker. Again, I think Kirsten Dunst's first kiss was better done, where Spiderman hung upside-down and kissed Mary-Jane from above.
Gwen Stacy's character, despite being labelled as a "pretty girl" by all and sundry, is not just a pretty face. I like that the women had strong roles in this (notably Aunty May) and Gwen shows brains (in the science lab making andidotes) and brawn (attacking the lizard with a school trophy, as one does.)
Yes, The Amazing Spiderman introduces a new villian, a scientist-cum-lizard with a dark side that takes over, as per the octopus villian before.
Below: never trust the friendly scientists.
I was happy to hear they named the 'elephant in the room' and made a joke about the lizard running amuk and having to alert the citizens of Tokyo in an allusion to Godzilla, as we were all no doubt thinking it. Speaking of jokes, it had a constant flow of good lines countered with visual humour. Of course, there was no shortage of heart-swelling moments of working class comradeship rising together above adversity such as that displayed by crane operators who are now it seems, the new firemen.
I'm sure they won't run out of creepy zoo creatures in this series, and the end set it up for a sequel nicely, with a mysterious figure taunting the villian. He'll be back...
The Amazing Spiderman
8.5 stars out of 10.
27 June 2012