Friday, August 17, 2012

The Amazing Spider-Man (Brockway)

Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway

The Amazing Spider-Man

Yee-owww! Whoo-hoo! Just when we might have thought that Marvel had used up all of its Spidey Sense reserves here comes another version of Spider-Man , The Ricky Nelson of superheroes.

This film is showcased in crisply  textured 3D, which the Tropic can now take full advantage of with its new state -of- the art technology that features superior 3D glasses that work by electronic battery operated lenses rather than the usual bi-polar lenses. This results in a sharper, more detailed image not too mention a brighter and more upbeat cinema experience. 

Indeed, after the Sam Raimi films, most of us are already familiar with one Peter Parker, a fresh faced high school science student who loves taking photos. Most are well aware that the humble and self deprecating Parker  wanders off during a field trip and gets lost somehow in the rare spider exhibit and (Golly Gee!) gets pecked and becomes once bitten, twice shy, not only by his eight-legged power animal, but by life itself. 

What is new here is the compelling adolescent angst and devil-may-care humor that Andrew Garfield brings to the role. He has an almost anarchistic spontaneity. Rather than the squeaky clean Ivory Soap aura that Tobey Maguire possessed, Garfield's portrayal is a little impish around the edges. Cloaked in a hoodie, and dashing about with a longboard, we get the feeling that Peter Parker, if genetics were altered, might as well be part salamander and Seattle-grunge saint. There is just a hint of Kurt Cobain in his creep along with a smudge of mascara under the eyes. But fear not, through all the pangs of loss and love, Peter recovers all his noble and fearless feelies, to become the most good natured of all superheroes.

This latest outing is probably the closest we will get on film to Julie Taymor's  ambitious and free-spirited story of Spider-Man, too. Just as in the Broadway version, we have a very intimate and colorful story of a young boy, battered by grief, yet simultaneously hit by romance and prodigal academic success for the first time. Garfield shows verve and style and his rapid stutters are original and endearing. His Peter Parker is no mere diluted ink job or soggy cardboard cutout. There are some real angles of angst and a few angels, within the dark arches of his  eyebrows. When Garfield cries, you just might find yourself clenching your popcorn a little too tight. 

Martin Sheen offers a fine example of the earnest and folksy Uncle Ben and Sally Field appears as Aunt May. Even though she frets and worries throughout, Sally Field is good at it.
Rhys Ifans gives   his alternately well meaning and dastardly best as a mad scientist whose alter-ego is the genetically-engineered and generically named Lizard, who puts  our young Spidey through his paces. Granted Ifans is quite campy here, especially when he is still wearing his doctor's coat and bag as a super life size green  amphibian. He is one part Barrymore and one part Godzilla, but after all , this is a comic book. He doesn't disappoint. 

The real thrill though is watching  the journey of the hero, step by step. Not to mention the arachnophillia  between Garfield and Emma Stone, who plays Gwen Stacy, a Juliet to Parker's Slacker-esque and spidery jitters. 

"The Amazing Spider-Man" may not enthrall all devotees, but it makes for an entertaining and vibrant spin through the Marvel comic bestiary. With these engaging and heartfelt characters, we can clearly see the  outline and evolution of the hero, be he small, shaky, or smirking, anxious or amorous. Marvel and director Marc Webb lets us see it all. 

And more often than not, these odd hybrid creatures only want to be human.

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