The Webbing Slinger returns in a slow-moving but mostly captivating reboot that will both delight and irritate many, writes Lucien
Andrew Garfield is the perfect example of a rising star. A few years ago, he had supporting roles in films such as Terry Gilliam’s ‘The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus’, followed by a more prominent part in ‘The Social Network’ and a lead in ‘Never Let Me Go’. Now, he has reached the high point: the Summer blockbuster. The zone only entered by a-listers such as Will Smith, Johnny Depp, Robert Downey Jr and Tom Cruise. He is putting on the sweaty red mask once worn by the endlessly charming Tobey Maguire, who has now moved back down a step to Oscar fare such as ‘The Great Gatsby’, as ‘(500) Days of Summer’ director Mark Webb takes the reigns once carried by Sam Raimi, who is finishing off ‘Oz: The Great and the Powerful’ starring ‘Spider-Man 3’ villain James Franco. Garfield does a very good job in this film. He is well able to pull of the ‘confused, lonely teenager act’ as well as being experienced in the romantic scenes with Emma Stone, who shone in ‘Easy A’ and was underused in ‘The Help’, but unfortunately isn’t the best thing about this film. The best thing about the film is how Webb manages to create a tone that is dramatically different to that in Raimi’s 2002 original. This is a Spider-Man for 2012, a year where every teenager is tweeting their every thought, and pages of information are only one google away. This film is far more comedic than the original, as Raimi left the jokes for movies 2 and 3. The high points are when Garfield opens a ‘day in the life’ montage by smacking the shit out of his alarm clock and plays a game on his smart phone whilst lying on a web, waiting for The Lizard to arrive. Speaking of The Lizard, he is what lets this film down. In his human form, Rhys Ifans does a good job of playing the hard-working, conflicted scientist Dr Curt Connors. However, whenever he transforms into the “giant green dinosaur”, the film becomes temporarily loud and annoying, and brings back memories of one of last year’s worst films, ‘Super 8’. The extended fight between Spidey and Lizard in Peter Parker’s high school is the film’s worst scene, and is only redeemed due to a hilarious Stan Lee cameo, which is without doubt his best yet in any of the Marvel films, beating the moment in ‘The Incredible Hulk’ when he drinks out of a bottle poisoned with gamma rays and drops dead.
An Officer, but not much of a Gentleman
When Denis Leary, best known for his work as Diego in the ‘Ice Age’ films, but also a very funny comedian, was chosen to play Captain Stacy, Gwen’s father, who appears briefly in ‘SM3’ portrayed by James Cromwell, I looked forward to seeing a performance rich with sarcasm and humour. Unfortunately, Leary is not one of the best things about ‘ASM’. He tells few jokes, and even though he behaves very negatively towards Peter throughout the film, a redeeming moment is rushed at the end, which fails to work on any level.
An Immersive Experience
I am not a big fan of 3D, not so much because it is “a waste of time and money” or because “you have to wear stupid glasses”, but because it fails to be used the way it should be anymore. Everyone is so busy making films “immersive” and “full of depth” that they forget to include pointy things. I love pointy things. The last film to use pointy things in its 3D, and probably the best 3D I’ve ever seen, was ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides”. I saw ‘Harry Potter 8’ and ‘The Avengers’ in 2D, but was forced to sit through over-priced ‘depthy’ nonsense for ‘Tintin’ and ‘MIB3’, and decided ‘ASM’ was 3D’s last chance to impress me. It was actually pretty good. There were lots of pointy things, Spidey’s swinging came out of the screen and when the camera panned out of Spidey’s eye and showed all of New York’s skyline to James Horner’s beautifully haunting score, I cried.
Life of Pi
While we’re here, I might as well mention the 3-minute preview of Ang Lee’s ‘Life of Pi’ that showed in 3D beforehand. Verdict: Boring and repetitive
- A poster for ‘Rear Window’ in Peter’s room
- The book of ‘Seabiscuit’ in Gwen’s room. Tobey Maguire starred in the film of this.
- Stan Lee in the school library
- Peter falls through a roof, into a wrestling ring