Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The Amazing Spider-Man ★ ★ ★ ½


Release Dates
4th July
, 2012 USA 22nd 3rd July, 2012 UK 3rd July, 2012
Other Countries Release Dates

When you still have merchandise from the last version of the film, à la Spiderman carry bag, t-shirts and baseball cap, is it a touch too soon to restart the franchise?  The Amazing Spider-Man™ is marketed as the untold story of our webbed hero.  Despite some elements remaining of the original story there is an unfolding mystery and a new villain.  For the Spiderman officiados this franchise could be arguably a truer portrayal of the comic book story.
In The Amazing Spider-Man™ the story begins with seven-year-old Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) and the mysterious disappearance of his parents which leaves him orphaned and in the care of his Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) and Aunt May (a perfect Sally Fields).  It is in these early scenes we learn more of the Peter Parker history barely mentioned in the original.
Returning to the familiar ground of Peter’s teenage years we understand better the emotional impact of his parent’s disappearance.  He is introverted by choice but carrying a strong sense of humanity as opposed to being the bullied geek.  Gwen Stacy (always perky Emma Stone)—introduced in Issue 31, December 1965 of the comic series—is Peter Parker’s first crush. 
In searching for answers about his parents, Peter uncovers information leading him to Oscorp and the lab of his Father’s ex-partner Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans).  There Dr. Connors is searching for the key to cross-species genetics to cure the world’s health and physical disabilities, and most notably regrow his own missing arm.
Of course, Spiderman is nothing without the inevitable spider bite and we are into original story territory with the struggles and fun of discovering his new abilities.  When Connors injects himself with untested serum, he evolves into the megalomaniac, Lizard. I know—it does sound weird but I’m informed Lizard is one of Spiderman’s most famous enemies, although perhaps unknown to fans of the earlier films.  Who would think a Lizard could be so much trouble?
Director Marc Webb explains, “There are a lot of things in the Spider-Man canon that haven’t been explored cinematically—the loss of Peter’s parents launches him on his journey.  I was curious about the emotional consequence of that tragic event.  Then, of course, we have the Gwen Stacy saga and there’s the Lizard, one of my favorite villains in comics.  All of that gave us a lot to work with.”
Webb wanted to explore a new dimension of the Peter Parker story and tell it in a more naturalistic way.  “I wanted the fun, the spectacle, the action, the rage, and the humor to feel more realistic—like you walk out on the street and you can imagine this happening.”
As a result, the filmmakers chose to create The Amazing Spider-Man using practical, real-world elements whenever possible and choosing visual effects only when strictly necessary.
Sony Pictures Imageworks—which previously handled VFX duties on director Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy—returns to oversee the visual effects on The Amazing Spider-Man.  New animation and rendering technology was developed at Imageworks in order to create the incredible detail of the Lizard’s scales and the movement of his muscles beneath the skin.
One such technique involved the use of a stuntman—dressed in black to help his digital “removal” during the post process—posing as a stand-in for the Lizard during a key action sequence at Peter Parker’s high school. To fully convey the illusion that Spider-Man is grappling and being tossed around by a nine-foot-tall mutated Lizard, the stuntman (who was almost seven feet tall himself!) would grapple with Andrew Garfield. Later, the stuntman was removed and the CG Lizard animated to have motion that coincided with Garfield’s movements.  The meshing of the real physics of the actor and the CG animation of the Lizard create a visceral illusion of Peter Parker fighting for his life.
The attempt to revisit a successful franchise so soon was a courageous move and it could have been a fail.  But The Amazing Spider-Man™ is a big fun romp, especially in IMAX 3D, with some young energetic actors and solid golden oldies. Even better, this time round I save on merchandise. And the must-have movie T-shirt I’m usually begged to’ve already got one, almost brand new.

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