The Amazing Spider-Man

Posted on July 18, 2012. Filed under: Movies to see before you die, Reviews | Tags: , , , , , |

I tried so hard to stay in denial about this movie. I avoided the production photos. I didn’t watch the trailer until I had no choice at the cinema. I put my fingers in my ears and went “la la la” when people talked about how good it looked. Why? Because I am a big fan of the Sam Raimi/Tobey Maguire movies, and the continual stream of reboots was starting to grate. Particularly as the dearly departed Spiderman franchise was barely even cold yet. So I went in to denial.

Unfortunately, I gave over to the geek side a long time ago, and if you dangle a Marvel movie in front of me for long enough, sooner or later I’m going to cave. And I did. And I’m not even sorry.

The only criticism I can think of for The Amazing Spider-Man is its dated sounding title. And we can’t really blame them for that since the obvious choice was taken.  In fact, disloyal though it may feel to say it, I think I like it better…Sorry Tobey.

Before I talk about the movie, I want to say a couple of  words about the cinema I saw it in. We went to The Everyman in Baker Street, and I wanted to give it a quick plug for all my fellow Londoners looking for a slightly different cinematic experience.  It’s a cute little theatre (one of 9 in London) with two cosy screens and a basement bar.  It was a big contrast to my last movie outing to the Imax, but it was a really friendly and exclusive feeling atmosphere, particularly on a Monday night when there were only a few of us there. Definitely a recommend if you happen to be a Londoner. Check out the website here.

Seeing the film in such a small theatre also meant I saw it in 2D rather than post production 3D. And I can say with 99% certainty that I don’t think I missed out on anything. I can think of one moment that was put in to make the 3D seem worthwhile. And it would have been gimmicky. There’s no need for this film to be in 3D, so if you have the choice save yourself the extra ticket price.

Right, on with the review.

The big question with any reboot is always can the new guy do it better than the old guy?  In this case, I’m happy to say that Andrew Garfield makes an amazing Spiderman (lol geddit?)  Perhaps slightly too pretty for Peter Parker, but he is so fantastically socially awkward that his geek chic feels plausible.  The characterisation of Spiderman also felt a lot more like the comics (or the cartooons that I grew up with) giving him more cheesy wise cracks and finally managing to make him feel young. One thing that the previous films never quite captured was that Parker was only supposed to be a kid, and that while “with great power comes great responsibility” he also had fun with it. Particularly in the 2nd and 3rd films (AKA Spidey: the EMO years) he was a little bit too serious and strung out all the time. Garfield manages to balance a sense of fun with the gravity of suddenly being depended on, without becoming too dogged by it.  I also liked that fact that this film plays more in to the vigilante idea, in a kind of Daredevil/Batman way; letting us see Peter develop his webshooting tech and making his suit. It gives a grounding and a sense of realism so often missing in comic book movies which, despite their fantastical plot lines, need that anchor in order for the audience to relate.

As far as the plot goes, the basic origin story is the same, but with some added dark past to Peter’s parents and slight re jigging of the facts (more hard core geeks can explain which of the many comic incarnations we’re following here).  There’s no MJ though.  Instead we’re given Gwen Stacey, who is a fairly similar character if we’re honest, but just so happens to work in the lab of the guy who you can tell from the first second you see him is going to turn evil. Rhys Ifans plays a great Curt Connors, fulfilling all the standards of slightly tortured scientist trying to do good and cocking it up most spectacularly and the design for The Lizard was good, managing to stop him looking too much like Godzilla (but still giving them the opportunity to throw in a joke about it.)

The action sequences are well choreographed, and while we’ve seen Spidey swinging through rooftops before it still looks pretty cool, especially in the first person view shots which I suspect were put in for 3D but look just as good without the poppy out bits.  I’ve got to give a nod to the ever fantastic James Horner too, for a score which compliments the story arc perfectly, particularly in the opening prologue.

The Amazing Spider-Man is simply a really good comic book movie. In the Age of the Geek when all things nerd are on the rise, we are being treated (or subjected, depending on how you look at it) to a cornucopia of graphic novel adaptations, which don’t all manage to pull off their leap to the bandwagon, but this one does.  You might not be a Marvel fan, or you might think you’ve seen Spiderman before, but even if comics aren’t your thing, I can recommend Amazing Spider-Man simply as a solid blockbuster. A great way to spend a couple of hours in what has turned out to be a hideously soggy Summer.

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Good things come in threes….?

Posted on January 23, 2012. Filed under: Ramblings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

On the 19th January 2012 this collection of typo ridden blether celebrated its third birthday.  The fact that I couldn’t write anything on the actual day is kind of a testament to how things have been going these past few months, but I also had an idea what I wanted to write about and needed to put some actual thought in to it.

The trilogy is a big deal in cinema. If you can get people hooked in enough from that first installment to wait a minimum of two more years to see the climax then you know you’re on to a good thing.  Or are you? The propensity for making sequels over the last decade or so has led to a few well loved films being stretched out over three parts that maybe weren’t intended at first inception.  It’s yet to be seen whether this blog is the series that can keep running or the plot that should have given up somewhere in the middle of part two, but in celebration of at least making the landmark, I bring you part three in cinema: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

The Good

This is where the proper trilogies live.  The ones that had a big three part game plan and started setting up for it within the opening moments of part one.  The best trilogies though are the ones where you didn’t think it could get any better and then the finale knocks you sideways.  The Two Towers gave us one of the most epic on screen battles seen in Helm’s Deep, and then Return of the King came along with double whammy Pelennor fields and Cormallen and the whole concept of big screen battle changed.  And no matter what your persuasion is on Ewoks, you have to admit that Return of the Jedi is a fantastic movie.  What is quite unique for that film is that we’ve already had the big twist which is often the climax of the story, but now we get to see how our hero deals with it. It’s the what happens next that makes it interesting.  If you’re like me, you probably count that two sets of Star Wars films as two separate trilogies, in which case despite the collection of crap that went before and the impossible comparison to its big brothers, Revenge of the Sith is a pretty cool movie and definitely a fitting climax to the prequels.

It’s not just the big trilogies that fit here though.  Long running series  Indy and Die Hard both had very strong third parts following on from slightly weaker second helpings. (Let’s not talk about Indy 4)  And although a lot of people don’t realise it’s  a trilogy, Once Upon a Time in Mexico is a fantastic final showdown in the El Mariachi story.

The Bad

So. The bad.  This tends to be where we find the films that were probably never intended to run for so long.  Pirates of the Caribbean was a game changing movie which made a lot of people (especially me) very happy.  2 more films could only be a good thing right? Um….

The problem is, they didn’t think Pirates would work, so they threw everything they had at the first film.  It’s self contained, so trying to find things to stretch out for another 2  means it all gets a bit thin.  I by no means dislike At World’s End, but it’s not even close to the magic they had with the first film.  As much as I love Captain Jack, maybe you can have too much of a good thing.  Of course that didn’t stop them, and On Stranger Tides came along.  I still haven’t seen it (I’m scared to) but it’ll be a shame if an incredible orignal movie is tainted by weaker follow ups.

Which brings me on to: Matrix Revolutions.  For exactly the same reasons really. The Matrix is a work of art. It’s just brilliant. When they announced two more movies being made I was excited to see where they’d go with it, but quickly realised that there wasn’t really anywhere. There are some fantastic fight scenes in that film, but even they don’t have the impact of when Neo first stands up  and says “No.”  Not to mention the fact that I still don’t understand how Neo had powers out of the Matrix, whether or not he died at the end and what the hell Zion is going to do now.

In the comic book world, hitting the third part seems to be the cue for a reboot, with Spiderman 3 (The EMO years)  and X Men: The Last Stand springing to mind.  I like both of these films, but they are definitely not as strong as their earlier counterparts (or the later films in the case of X Men).  Often by part three of a series, we’re starting to run out of places to go, particularly if you brought out the big guns early, which leads to the common pitfalls.  More often than not you get too many heroes or too many villains; trying to compensate for a less exciting premise by bringing in lots of new characters which can lead to characters feeling underdeveloped.

In other cases though, it can just be that we’ve seen it all before.  As much as I love Jurassic Park, we probably didn’t need a third film about people getting eaten by dinosaurs, and fantastic though the first two Back To The Future films are, the third one does kind of go of the rails a bit (if you’ll excuse the train based pun)

The Ugly

I’m too nice to consign any of the above films to the “Ugly” pile, because even though they don’t live up to the expectations laid down by their predecessors, they do have some saving graces.  In fact, when it came to thinking of truly terrible part threes, the only one that came to mind was Shrek the Third. The less said about that the better.I’m sure you can fill me in on some terrible trilogies I’ve missed.

Coming soon…

It just so happens that it’s not just my little old blog that’s bringing out its third instalment this year.  Christopher Nolan is delivering the much anticipated Dark Knight Rises, which is set to be a blockbuster success and quite probably a fantastic movie.  We also have Sherlock Holmes 3 on the horizon, which is less of a dead cert, with a somewhat lukewarm reaction the sequel, but in my case that’s one part 3 I can’t wait to see.  And while we’re thinking about RDJ (cos I know you are) Iron Man 3 hits the screens in 2013, this time with Shane Black at the helm instead of Jon Favreau.  I really hope that works. Because I’m not sure how you do it without Favreau. And that is one series I really don’t want to see go out with a whimper.

And finally….this summer we have Men In Black 3, which is a pretty good example of not knowing when to quit after a crappy sequel.  If in doubt, throw in some time travel. *sigh*

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I’m a Marvel

Posted on January 3, 2011. Filed under: Memes and Blogathons, Ramblings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

It’s a big year for comic book geeks.  Marvel are gearing up for the big finale with the release of Thor and Captain America ready for The Avengers in 2012.  Meanwhile, DC have got to find a way to follow up on The Dark Knight and convince me that Ryan Reynolds can get away with defecting to play The Green Lantern.

To celebrate the exciting times ahead, and as a mini celebration of my blog’s second birthday, I think a meme is in order.  If I have your email address you’ve probably had a message, if you’re feeling ignored then show me what I’m missing by getting involved!

You’ve probably all seen these videos, sending up the MAC/PC adverts with a debate about who is making better movies.  I propose we see how many comic book geeks and movie nerds we can get to join the debate to find out who really is the better franchise once and for all.

Rules:

  1. Title your post either I’m a Marvel or I’m a DC
  2. Give up to 5 reasons why, roughly styled in the opposition format (to get what I mean read mine below)
  3. Tag as many other bloggers as you can and let the arguments begin!

If you’re going to play along let me know, I’ll link all the posts on the blog and tally up the results to see who the bloggers (the people whose opinions matter most of course ;)) think is the ultimate comic book universe.

Right then, my turn.

I’m a Marvel. (I know, you’re all shocked aren’t you?)

Marvel characters manage to look cool in Lycra.  Or style themselves in big shiny metal suits.. DC characters wear their pants on the outside.

Marvel have an almost infinite universe of cool characters.  The whole world of the X Men could keep me happy for a lifetime without opening up the Avengers.  DC basically have Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman The Flash and Green Lantern, who don’t really compare.

Marvel specialises in the flawed hero; Wolverine, Iron Man, even Spiderman has an EMO phase.  DC, with the exception of Batman, is a collection of goody goodies, and Bruce Wayne doesn’t really hold a candle to Tony Stark in the playboy-off.

When it comes to movies, DC aren’t even in the same league.  Marvel has at least 8 franchises out there, the majority of which include some pretty wicked films (even tha bad ones have redeeming features).  DC has Superman and Batman, both of which have their weak points (Superman Returns…ouch) and is only just starting to think about digging into the rest of that pile of comics in the corner.

And finally…Marvel have Wolverine. DC have Aquaman.

I rest my case.

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Marvel-ous!

Posted on January 25, 2009. Filed under: Ramblings, Reviews | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

*groan* I know, terrible title, but it’s Sunday.

As part of a weekly ritual with two good friends, I watched Iron Man last night.  The latest offering in the Marvel comic-to-film cascade, its a pretty good film with some funny lines and a good plot, even if the Science behind that electromagnet is fatally flawed.  Robert Downey Jr is great in the role, as sort of anti-hero come vigilante activist and Gwenyth Paltrow is also good.  I’m always disappointed that she comes across as much nicer in films than she is in real life.

The special effects are also great, especially the aerial scenes, making me slightly re-think my Oscar prediction.  It dawned on me last night that Iron Man is basically Marvel’s version of the DC Batman, making it all the more interesting that they’re up against eachother.iron-man-downey-jr2

Although Iron Man is great, you’ll notice I’m not putting it in the films to see before you die category, mainly because I’m not going to force you to watch it as soon as I find out you haven’t.  But I will strongly recommend it.  I’m also really looking forward to The Avengers.  With Samuel L Jackson as Nick Fury it’s got to be good, but unfortunately there’s a bit of a long wait.

When compared with the other Marvel films out there, Iron Man doesn’t quite come top but its close.  I’d argue that the X-Men films (if we give some lee-way to the dodgier third installment) are the best, closely followed by Spiderman.  After that, I think I’d put Iron Man on and equal footing with the Fantastic Four, if not slightly above.  Bottom of the pile is Daredevil, a film which had the potential (and the casting) to be brilliant but somehow just didn’t make it.  It’s about half an hour too short for anything to develop properly, which is disappointing since Daredevil is one of Stan Lee’s best creations.

I think the Marvel comic films are some of the best blockbusters out there, and defintiely what you need on a dreary night.  I’m yet to see them all (Blade for example has passed me by) but I reckon they’re holding a pretty good standard so far, which in the sea of different directors, is a testemant to Lee’s characters.
Marvel

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