Rajeev Masand – movies that matter : from bollywood, hollywood and everywhere else

June 30, 2012

Along came a spider

Filed under: Their Films — Rajeev @ 12:20 am

June 29, 2012

Cast: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans, Dennis Leary, Martin Sheen, Sally Field, Irrfan Khan

Director: Marc Webb

If Sam Raimi’s 2002 Spider-Man is still fresh in your memory, there’s a good chance the new reboot might feel boringly familiar. This is after all the origin story all over again – Peter Parker gets bitten, he discovers his ‘spider powers’, he uses them first on the school bully, then goes out in the street to fight crime, finally clashing with a fearsome villain while cops and New Yorkers look on in amazement.

To be fair, despite covering pretty much the same ground as that earlier film, The Amazing Spider-Man still works. You could put it down to the emotional depth that (500) Days of Summer director Marc Webb brings to key scenes, or simply to leading man Andrew Garfield’s refreshingly original approach to the part.

A solid actor, blessed with oodles of charisma and unmistakable presence, Garfield pitches Peter Parker as a brooding introvert who prefers the company of his skateboard to actual friends. Playing him less nerdish than Tobey Maguire did in Raimi’s film, Garfield’s Parker is a smart, often wisecracking hero, and a pleasing comic presence in the early parts of the film, as he learns to cope with his new powers. Take that terrific scene in the New York subway where Parker surprises himself and fellow commuters with his sudden strength!

Webb, meanwhile, helming his first big-budget studio film, delivers a surprisingly moving blockbuster that works best when it’s focusing on characters over set pieces. Nowhere are his skills more evident than in the scenes between Garfield and Emma Stone, who stars as Parker’s classmate and subsequent girlfriend Gwen Stacy.

Easily a more likeable presence than Kirsten Dunst’s vanilla Mary Jane, Stone plays Gwen funny and smart and sexy, and invests in her real courage and emotional strength so she emerges a worthy ally and confidante to Parker. The couple has crackling chemistry, and it’s hard not to root for them when they’re mooning over each other, like in a delicious rooftop scene where Parker finally shares his secret with her.

Grounded firmly in a real, believable universe of Webb’s making, despite its fantastical premise, The Amazing Spider-Man feels more like a coming-of-age tale than anything else. After an opening prologue of Parker as a young boy being passed off to his Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) and Aunt May (Sally Field) by his parents, we jump forward to see him as a teenager who’s begun to ask questions about his parents’ mysterious disappearance. This leads him to his father’s former colleague, Dr Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans), a scientist involved in some groundbreaking genetic research, who transforms into a giant reptilian monster when he tests his latest formula on himself. Even as Parker grows to embrace his own superpowers, he must stop The Lizard from wreaking havoc in the city.

That brings us naturally to the film’s action scenes that appear less elaborate than we’re used to seeing in modern superhero films like The Avengers. There’s a nice bit in which Spider-Man rescues a young boy from a burning car dangling off the side of a bridge, and then there is his final battle with The Lizard at the top of a skyscraper. Both are considerably less thrilling than the sheer swinging sequences, and those portions in which Spidey leaps off tall buildings. You’ll find yourself at the edge of your seat, your nails digging into your armrest, as you watch him dive into the open sky… It’s a testament to the fact that Webb’s given us a superhero we genuinely care for.

Despite its faults – the standard-issue storyline, the 138-minute running time, a thankless role for Irrfan Khan, and the gratuitous 3D – this reboot of the Spider-Man saga rests almost entirely on the romance between its leads. Indeed, Garfield and Stone alone make this movie worth your time.

I’m going with three-and-a-half out of five for The Amazing Spider-Man. You’ll be surprised by how warm and funny it is. Definitely deserves a watch!

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)

22 Comments »

  1. Nobody can replace Tobey maguire.no tobey no spiderman.

    Comment by Quentin Tarantino — June 30, 2012 @ 12:54 am

  2. Watched it on friday night and guess what? the show was houseful. I would just say that this is a must watch even if you love the earlier Spider Man!! Go for it. And Rajeev Masand ji, I would give it 4.99 out of 5 🙂

    Comment by Akhilesh Tekade — June 30, 2012 @ 1:44 am

  3. Would be even Better watching it in 3D. It has some of the best 3D effects !! 😀

    Comment by Akhilesh Tekade — June 30, 2012 @ 1:46 am

  4. Saw it on the first show yesterday.This movie is all about emotion.One cannot stop comparing it with any emotional movie.But there is an unmistakable presence of Andrew Garfield.In one particular scene with his aunt(“smile”) will make you feel the ground reality.

    Don’t go to the movie with lot of expectation and never compare it with the old franchise.Though it lacked the intensity than it’s predecessors this is the first of the series.It will eventually grow to be a enthralling movie series.

    Now the most important of all the 3D effect.U may have seen number of movies in 3D but it’s a guarantee that u will be thrilled by the effect.It’s a new way to enjoy movie for us…

    DO NOT WATCH IN 2D…YOU WILL NOT FEEL THE MOVIE AT ALL….ALL THE ENJOYMENT COMES FROM THOSE WHERE YOU FEEL A PART OF THE MOVIE…WHICH THIS MOVIE DOES SO WELL.

    Comment by S BANERJEE — June 30, 2012 @ 7:23 am

  5. i reached the theatre 10 mins late and for another 10-15 mins the movie was looking boring. as same story like spiderman (2002).
    but as half an hour passed the movie kept my eyes not to blink …such a nice story line…but still cant forget the Tobye’s peter parker than andrew’s peter Parker

    Comment by Angal Singh — June 30, 2012 @ 10:12 am

  6. the film is good..but i think a new spidey story would have been much better than this reboot..just 10 yrs has passed after spidey 1, the reboot is here.This sans any logic.
    Coming to the film, i thought tobey was better than garfield. Garfield is very naive and too skinny. The heroine does have some part to play in this film than the previous films..but still the emotional part between the lead actors was a bit dragging..In a action-adventure film,action sequences should be given more importance..nobody sees spiderman as a normal individual after the spider bite..so the love emotions was simply uncalled for..also through out the film the family conflict between aunt mary and parker was really boring as we all had seen that in the 2002 film itself

    Comment by Aditya — June 30, 2012 @ 11:47 am

  7. I really liked the movie .Although its not an untold story but its definitely a well told story.And Andrew Garfield’s Peter Parker has a very likeable presence than Tobey Maguire .And also Emma stone delivers a charming performance.While Marc Webb approach towards story telling is better than Sam Raimi.And sir u have rated the film perfectly.

    Comment by V12K1 — June 30, 2012 @ 1:11 pm

  8. I also thought that .no Tobey no Spiderman, considering it will be very dificult to see any one else playing Spiderman after seeing Tobey playing role in 3 movies but Andrew Garfield does an amazing job and not for a single instance we feel oddwith him playing the superhero/Parker.

    Comment by alpi — June 30, 2012 @ 3:50 pm

  9. One of the rare occasions that I find myself disagreeing with everything in this review. I did not feel the comic strength of Peter Parkar was endearing anywhere, he looked more creepy and edgy than funny. Where as Toby’s Spider Man was a guy we all knew, and felt for, this SM is not your friendly neighborhood bug, but a seriously bugging uninspiring teenager.

    The original uncle ben’s,’With great strength comes great responsibility’ has and will continue to be the stuff superhero film screenwriters will pull their hair out for, where as in this version, one of the greatest moments of Spider Man’s transformation into someone who is compelled to do good is pale and insignificant.

    Next, whatever you may say about MJ, but Dunst was saucy. She walked straight out of the comic book fantasy. which brings me to the next point.

    When we watch a Harry Potter, spider Man, Super man, there is an obvious suspension of disbelief. We know what we are in for, why try make it ‘real’? We already gave it to you, now take us on that disbelieving ride! I kept waiting and never took off. Who was Dr Lizard trying to harm? For a large part of the film – no one.

    There was such a lack of dramatic conflict in this one unlike the first two Spider Man films. Even when this one started so well- the mystery of what happened to the parents, did the evil scientist do it? how? how does parker learn/uncover/ what is he going to discover? What happened to Irfan khan character? Who was he reporting to? – it was all unfinished business. Parker even gets the girl!!

    Besides, what about his identity?? The heroine to the aunt to the heroine’s father to the villain – was there anyone who did not know of Spidey’s true identity? Dude his mask is the real deal. Between us and Spidey. We and spidey know who he is, that’s special. If everybody and their uncles know who spidey is, what’s the fun?!

    It might have desired to be a more contemplative and exploratory, but then a compromise with the genre is disappointing trade off.

    Comment by Smita — July 1, 2012 @ 7:33 pm

  10. It was ok ok movie, lil bt funny yaar……
    Bt its fine, action n camera work was awesome….!!!
    Something different from earlier Spider-Man…..
    Go fo it, one time watch…..
    🙂

    Comment by Jai — July 2, 2012 @ 10:08 am

  11. Look at the irony….in a spidey movie the female lead comes out as the best…..Emma gr8 job… far better than kirsten….but tobey has an edge over garfield so does the earlier movie…..garfield didnt do a bad job but the 2002 movie was far better….comparisons were bound to happen but it fell flat as compared to tobey,s one……irfan was good in his 2 min apperance but irfan please find a meatier role for urself next time..

    Comment by parul — July 2, 2012 @ 1:18 pm

  12. the movie does fell very familiar i the beginning but as the movie develops you can see that the characters have made te roles their own.
    Andrew proves himself a better spider-man in that he brings the much needed humor and wit that the character has in the comics.
    excellent 3d effects and sound effects. good story line.
    all in all, the movie deserves a watch.
    i would rate it 3.5/5

    Comment by srikanth — July 4, 2012 @ 11:01 pm

  13. this is a much better spider-man than that whining cry baby tobey’s spidey.
    its also much more faithful th the comics than the original.
    the female lead has a better role in that she is not only a damsel in distress.
    back story of the lead makes the viewer much more intrested in the movie
    i would give it 4/5

    Comment by janardhan — July 4, 2012 @ 11:06 pm

  14. poor storyline…poor acting….how can every one know who the spiderman is? if they know that peterparker is spiderman then what is the need of the mask…? why did lizard let her live when she tries to burn him in the climax..? why did lizard save spiderman at the end? how can lizard turn from bad to good so quickly? where is exitement in spider man of getting new powers? where is the bad-emotions of loosing his uncle(poor acting)….direction is not good…no 3d effect(matrix in 2d is far better)…what was irfan khan’s role(he is far better actor than this )…?m really disappointed…1.5/5

    Comment by sunnystock — July 7, 2012 @ 2:04 am

  15. Even though someone is so excited with so many questions, and yet it is a bad storyline.. Seemingly, Patience, is not so common a virtue anymore. Where is the excitement of waiting for the next comics? Where is the imaagination we as kids had as we thought of unanswered questions? Where are the endless discussions we had with our frinds on why-wouldbe-what? Disappointed with the audince? The audience is not good! Keep Going Garfield, Keep Going Webb!

    Comment by Pranav — July 8, 2012 @ 3:27 pm

  16. Amazing script!! Although you know the story/plot yet you don miss a single moment! Andrew Garfield grows on you as the new Spider man..just like A.R. Rahman’s music! Irfaan khan has a small role but he makes his presence felt (you can’t ignore his piercing eyes), and yes.. the camera loves him in his daper suits – evident from the close-up shots. Completely different approach has been adopted while capturing the shots in which Spidy jumps from building to building, making those sequences extremely thrilling for the audience. Beautiful use of background music!

    Those who like thrill would love this movie; and those who like warm stories and characterisation would just LOVE it doubly!!

    Go and Watch this one for SURE!!

    4 out of 5 from me 🙂

    Comment by Rahul Sengupta — July 8, 2012 @ 7:34 pm

  17. Hey Mr Masand, I think you are doing some favor to the distributors of this film, coz this is a carbon copy of the first spidey movie. Why tell a story exactly same way again in such short time gap.

    The similarities
    1. His uncle’s death, before that saying ‘with great strength-comes great responsibilities’ in slightly different words.
    2. Dinner with his girls dad.
    3. Even the villain’s alter-ego or split personality is copied.

    Its a old wine in a new bottle

    Comment by Chandan — July 10, 2012 @ 11:30 pm

  18. Garfield actually portrays a better parker than Maguire!!!!
    And those who are saying it as a copy… dear ones this is not a copy, it’s a reboot. The reboot made by the comics writers…

    Comment by Ajinkya — July 11, 2012 @ 6:18 pm

  19. i don’t care abt spidey. d only thing i’m waitin 4 is TDKR

    Comment by joker — July 14, 2012 @ 9:55 pm

  20. THis movie is easily better than Spiderman 1 and 3. Andrew Garfield is a better Spiderman than Tobey Maguire. Its more faithful to the comics and Emma stone is far better than Kirsten Dunst. The action scenes r superior as well.

    Comment by Parker — July 19, 2012 @ 7:53 pm

  21. Poor Movie : For those who have already watched the previous movies. It’s a CRAP.
    Good Movie : For those watching it for the first time. It’s OK, that’s it.

    It is meaning less to say that US, INDIANS have not watched the previous movies.

    Cartoon version of the SPIDEY-CURT.CONNORS-LIZARD is far better than the movie.

    In my opinion, it’s a FLOP movie.

    Comment by Krishna — August 16, 2012 @ 8:19 pm

  22. quite good but not like spiderman films.

    Comment by raajnath — November 28, 2012 @ 9:52 pm

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