Thursday, 21 July 2011


Thursday, 21 July 2011

"We all have secrets: the one we keep... and the ones that are kept from us."

I don't often review movie trailers, but thought I'd say a few words about the first footage from director Marc Webb's The Amazing Spider-Man. It's such a bizarre thing when Hollywood reboots film franchises, but this is probably the strangest instance ever. I could just about get my head around them remaking The Incredible Hulk so soon after the failure of Ang Lee's art-house version Hulk, but the Spider-Man franchise wasn't a flop that needed reviving quickly. It was a very successful trilogy of popular blockbusters that only finished in 2007. When Amazing Spider-Man comes out next summer, only five years will have passed. Is that long enough for audiences to accept someone other than Toby Maguire as the geeky webslinger? I have my doubts. Then again, five years is half a decade, and for anyone under 15 that's a sizable chunk of time in your lifespan. Your perception of times changes the older you get, but for me five years is too soon for a do-over.

Onto the trailer itself. What's most noticeable is how much darker and moodier this version looks and feels, compared to the vibrant and energetic Sam Raimi trilogy. Is Webb going after the Twilight crowd with this? Or is this just what Spider-Man looks like if you treat things semi-seriously? Raimi's vision was always bright, kinetic and comic-book, but this trailer appears to be more subtle. Then again, maybe it just has to be because they've cut the budget to around $90m, it's believed. To put that into perspective, Spider-Man 3 cost three times as much at $258m. Even the first movie was given $140m to play with. So this new movie will almost certainly feel low-key and restrained, meaning it'll have to focus more on story and character instead of action set-pieces and villains. And that's not a bad thing, provided the action we do get is creative and worth the build-ups.

The most promising thing about The Amazing Spider-Man is the very intriguing cast. I was never a fan of Toby Maguire's take on Peter Parker, who just came across as a wet blanket to me. Andrew Garfield is slipping on the spandex this time, and he's a far more interesting performer to me, and it helps that the public have seen him in The Social Network and are anxious to see what else he can do. We also have the scrummy Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy (with her natural blonde hair), who's just about ready to become a huge movie-star post-Easy A, and the unexpected choice of Rhys Ifans to play villain The Lizard. He's not a villain I'm interested in, and it's a shame Dylan Baker never got the chance to become the Lizard in Raimi's hypothetical Spider-Man 4, but the rogue's gallery is another issue this reboot has to grapple with. As a reboot, it could recycle villains like Green Goblin, Dr Octopus and Sandman, but has perhaps wisely chosen not to.

The supporting cast also includes movie legends Martin Sheen and Sally Field as Peter's uncle and aunt, which is just brilliant, although they've failed to find anyone to play news editor J. Jonah Jameson because J.K Simmons was so perfect in that role it would be nigh impossible to better him. I'm surprised Jameson wasn't asked back as some kind of weird continuity, rather like how Judi Dench has played M in James Bond movies that starred both Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig.

So there are pro's and con's to this project, that much is clear. But I still have a tough time accepting a reboot so soon after Spider-Man 3, when there was nothing wrong with the previous saga. Spider-Man 3 may have been critically derided, but it was no Batman & Robin-style debacle that made a reboot necessary. I'm very interested to see what reaction this movie gets next summer. I suspect it'll be a huge hit (brand and name recognition will do that), but will we leave the cinema amped to see more from Andrew Garfield as Spidey?

There's nothing in this trailer that provoked a wildly positive reaction from me (although I get a feeling the quality of acting is going to be appreciably higher, and I like the serious tone), but then again I didn't particularly love the revered Spider-Man 2. This superhero doesn't really speak to me, for whatever reason, but I'm not sure a darker take is going to change that. Perhaps the biggest problem with this trailer is that there's absolutely nothing new to explore here with the characters and story. It's just another origin story that doesn't offer any big changes to what Maguire's character went through a decade ago...

What do you think? Did this trailer get you pumped for more Spidey action, or are you  puzzled by this movie's existence? Will it be the Batman Begins of the Marvel universe, or another Incredible Hulk?

The Amazing Spider-Man opens across the US on 3 July 2012.