The Amazing Spider-Man

Viewed – 19 July 2012  Cinema

Few of you would disagree that this came as a surprise when it was first announced.  Although Spider-Man 3 was a bit of a let down, what director Sam Raimi and star Toby Maguire achieved with the original (not so long ago) Spidy franchise was incredible.  So why the need for a re-boot?  Well as a long time Spider-Man fan I still had time for the webbed wonder no matter what guise he comes in, and when you consider that gifted actor Andrew Garfield (The Social Network) had been chosen to fill Maguire’s boots, and love-interest Gwen Stacy is played by current hot property Emma Stone (Easy A) … I knew this had potential.

Peter Parker (Garfield) is abandoned by his parents and left to grow up with Aunt May (Sally Field) and Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) but as he reaches adolescence, curiosity considering his missing father’s background gets the better of him and soon he is seeking out his father’s former business partner Dr Curt Conners (Rhys Ifans).  Yet on the discovery that his father was experimenting in cross-species genetics, he soon stumbles upon radio-active spiders, and before you can yell ‘spider-sense’ … Peter is a changed man.

Garfield is perfect as Parker / Spidy and brings some unexpected emotion and depth to the character that even Toby Maguire lacked … also proving far less nerdy.  His story may offer little new to the franchise apart from his parents back story, but it’s the relationship between Parker and Gwen Stacy that holds the most weight, proving to be one of the more convincing relationships of a comic-book adaptation.  Rhys Ifans’ scientist-turned-The Lizard offers little again that hasn’t been seen before.  Thankfully Ifans is good enough as Dr Conners, even if the part seems a bit beneath such a talented actor.  The same could be said for screen legend Martin Sheen as Uncle Ben, but suits the ageing actor quite well.  Sally Field on the other hand barely makes an impression other than looking concerned a lot.   Emma Stone is as expected excellent and acts former love interest Kirsten Dunst (May Jane) off the screen for emotional range … also helps she’s damn fine-looking too!

Along with a series of impressive action sequences with decent effects and some real heart-in-mouth moments, this very nearly was the best Spider-Man movie yet.  Sadly its let down a by moments of corny dialogue and a fair few clichés (the school bully is called ‘flash’ for example).  Add to this plot threads that go nowhere (a vendetta against a robber is just ‘forgotten’ and really, why did Parker’s parents disappear?).  With a little more polish and possibly a more interesting villain  – this could have been well, amazing.  As it stands, it’s simply a very enjoyable and capable movie that proves one thing – there’s plenty of life left in ol’ Spidy yet.

Verdict:  3.5 /5

Forrest Gump

Viewed – 23 June 2010  Blu-ray

Sapphire Series

Probably one of the most acclaimed movies of the past twenty years, this multi-Oscar winning movie shows us several decades of American history through the eyes of a simple-minded innocent.  At its heart it is a meaningful love story and love letter to America, with Forrest representing a simpler more honest view of life, and although he is surrounded by both tragedy and success, he never changes from the good natured man he’s always been.  Robert Zemeckis’s film is both informative, feel good and tear-jerking, bathed with beautiful cinematography showcasing many American land marks and stunning backdrops, and an eye for detail and pop culture that he also showed off wonderfully in the Back To The Future trilogy.  In many ways he’s the Spielberg that never was, and I still don’t think he gets the credit he deserves.  I must also say this is probably Tom Hank’s crowning performance, again nabbing him Best Actor, as his role of the seemingly stupid (but actually quite clever) Gump is played just right, most aptly shown in one scene where long time love interest Jenny (Robin Wright Penn) tries to seduce him, and he comes over all panicky and embarrassed.  It’s a stunning role for a very talented actor – and I can’t think of anyone else who could have played the part any better.

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