The Amazing Spider-Man trailer is out, and fans are definitely talking. Before the new trailer dropped, it's fair to say that popular opinion on the film was mixed at best, brutally critical at worst; now, the tide is suddenly starting to shift.
We had the opportunity to attend a live event where a 3D version of the new Amazing Spider-Man trailer was previewed for crowds gathered in cities like NYC, London, Rio de Janeiro and LA, with surprise appearances in those respective cities by ASM stars Andrew Garfield, Rhys Ifans, Emma Stone and director Marc Webb. If a 3D trailer and cast appearances weren't enough, we also got a look at a longer reel of footage that was first screened at this summer's Spider-Man Comic-Con panel.
First, check out the new Amazing Spider-Man trailer if you haven't seen it, then read on for our discussion:
The 3D is Amazing
Director Marc Webb went to great lengths to inform us that The Amazing Spider-Man was indeed filmed in 'true 3D' - i.e., shot with 'those big bulky 3D cameras,' as Webb told us (with a look of lighthearted frustration) - and the results of that effort certainly shows up onscreen.
3D is definitely not a format that should be used with as much reckless abandon as it often is by studios looking for a way to charge more for tickets, but Spider-Man is definitely a superhero well-suited to the medium. The web-slinging, uncanny acrobatics, action sequences and the overall movement of the character all look spectacular in 3D - and whereas The Avengers will be post-converted into 3D, this film is unquestionably the real deal.
VERDICT: Plan on a 3D viewing.
Andrew Garfield IS Peter Parker
Any debate about Andrew Garfield's capability as Peter Parker should diminish after this trailer. It's clear that Garfield - ironically enough accused early on of being too "Emo," in his portrayal - is going to actually be less mopy and more of a cocky wise-ass Spider-Man than Toby Maguire was...i.e., truer to the character. Even Garfield's movement and thin, lanky physicality look more in line with the character - who, by the way, was always very skinny - as opposed to Tobey Maguire's more stocky physicality.
Garfield was on hand at the NYC screening event to discuss the role, which he said (in so many words) that he would have to be an idiot not to want to take. He was also humble in stating that he is aware that the character belongs to the world, and the leagues of fans, and that he is just 'the guy in the suit.' There was a guy before him, and there will be one after him - "hopefully," as Garfield (jokingly?) put it, "an African American or Latino actor."
The Social Network star has definitely made this character his own. The preview footage screened ranged from the emotional (Peter pained by his parents' absence), to the romantic (Peter and Gwen falling for one another), to the comedic (the trademark Spider-man wisecracks) to the seriously dramatic (Peter going up against Connors or Gwen's militant police captain father). No matter what the tone of the moment, Garfield was able to deliver and command the screen.
VERDICT: The kid has earned his spot.
The Action is Epic
Sam Raimi's original Spider-Man film does not hold up well, in terms of its action sequences. Back in the early 2000s, with visual FX being what they were, Raimi could only do so much with a CGI Spider-Man; in fact, just seeing the CGI Spidey web-swinging through the city was considered a technical milestone.
Marc Webb has gone for the more practical approach to filming Spider-Man action (read: a lot more real stuntmen doing the web-slinging) - but "practical" doesn't mean that The Amazing Spider-Man is going to be lacking in the action department. In that 3D trailer alone we got to see everything from familiar Spider-Man acrobatics, to crazy 3D wall-crawling, to fight sequences in "Spider-Man combat styles" (a sequence of an unmasked Spidey taking on the cops definitely stands out).
If you weren't wowed by that final sequence of Spidey hanging onto the side of a skyscraper as that big antenna relay comes toppling down: the girl in the theater seat next to me can attest to the fact that, in 3D, the action in this film looks epic. She nearly jumped out of her seat at one point.
VERDICT: Amazing Spider-Man is a definite contender for best superhero action sequences of 2012.
Good Handle on Story & Character
So many people were worried (and some still are) that this retelling of Spider-Man's origin would stomp all over the original film (which is barely a decade old), while offering nothing new. Having seen the latest trailer and the preview reel, I have to say, that claim seems less and less valid.
The Amazing Spider-Man definitely offers a Spider-Man origin story that is "untold" on film. While some will argue that the movie is too Dark Knight-esque with its darker and grittier tones, I'd say that the more accurate correlation between TDK and ASM is how they both treat story and character - namely putting those elements of the film first and foremost.
ASM has a story where things like super powers, a hero and a villain - which can easily become arbitrary in a bad comic book movie - are all working together to form a deeper plot, richer more complex characters, and a tale with deeper layers and themes woven into it.
Director Marc Webb discussed his desire to explore the character of Peter Parker as an orphan - something that the comics have largely (but not totally) ignored until modern times. Yes, Peter loves his Aunt May and Uncle Ben, but the absence of his parents is something that surely affects him, and this movie will look at how. In addition, the fact that Peter is a genius level intellect will play a much more important role in the story - both in the creation of The Lizard, and gadgets like those mechanical web-shooters.
Rhys Ifans talked about playing Curt Connors, and how he enjoys a villain who is as complicated as Connors is - wanting to do good in the name of science and his own well being, only to have his good intentions devolve (literally and figuratively) into tragic mistakes. Without revealing too much, the actor added that another point of interest is Connors' connection to Peter's Parents, and ergo, Peter himself.
Emma Stone responded to questions about how Gwen Stacy is any different than Mary Jane (played by Kirsten Dunst in Raimi's trilogy). The actress noted that Gwen is a strong, smart, go-getter type whereas MJ was...not so much. Gwen has a strong connection to her dad and family (a surrogate family for Peter) whereas MJ did not. Most importantly, Stone added that whereas MJ first falls in love with Spider-Man, Gwen first falls in love with Peter Parker - and therein lies the biggest difference. Unlike MJ, Gwen isn't necessarily going to be as open and welcoming of Peter's alter-ego.
So, will all these signs of promise stop some people from complaining about hairstyles, costumes (gold eyes), or choices like including mechanical web-shooters? No. But for those willing to try something new and fresh (isn't that what people are asking for from their movies these days?), there is some seemingly rewarding material waiting in Amazing Spider-man.
VERDICT: Different does not equal "bad."
The Amazing Spider-Man will be in theaters (3D and 2D) on July 3, 2012
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