The Amazing Spider-Man (Marc Webb, 2012)

With new reboot comes great expectation.

Amazing? More like The Immature Spider-Man to me. Wait, do not get me wrong, it is not a slander remark by any stretch of mean, I was trying to point out that it is basically a re-telling of our beloved Peter Parker's teenage life, how he cope with the death of his Uncle Ben and more importantly how he dealt with the newfound arachnoid power.

Years ago, the Sony Pictures announcement of the new Spider-Man reboot had us crying out "What? Reboot again? It was too soon for that!" In fact, it has been only 10 years since Sam Raimi's own version of Spider-Man movie, which lead to 2 more sequels completing a satisfying trilogy. Instead of continue with Part Four, Sony Pictures chose to revamp the whole franchise by starting all over again. Which bring us The Amazing Spider-Man (TAS-M) helmed by the relatively newcomer Marc Webb. He has so far brought us the indie (500) Days of Summer (2009) which I am impressed by the quirkiness of it.

I have great time in Raimi's sunny, glittering Spider-Man trilogy. Cinematically, he introduced one of the most iconic Marvel's superhero character to non-comic Spidey fan like me and the story of the web shooter too won the heart of many comic fans. My write-up here is probably has to do with a lot of comparison between Raimi's original Spider-Man and the latest instalment. This time, Instead of shooting the web from his wrist, Spider-Man invented the mechanical web shooter just like in the comic. There is no Mary Jane Watson character as Peter's love interest, replaced by Gwen Stacy which is akin to the comic timeline. We will also find out more about Peter's parents. Then, there are no appearances of Osborne members although their organization Oscorp formed the backdrop of the plot. Dr Curt Connor is the villain better known as Lizard as his alter ego. He is the leading research scientist in Oscorp on the verge of biotechnology breakthrough based on reptiles' DNA in regenerating new human tissue for amputated limb like himself. What I missed most from 2002 version is JK Simmons as the wacky chief editor of Daily Bugle.

Rhys Ifans as Dr Curt Connor AKA Lizard
Another significant difference with this latest TAS-M is the overall darker and grittier tone.  I noticed Uncle Ben's demise here has somehow less impact on Peter's anguish motivation. The loss of his uncle should be the incident inspiring him to use his unique ability to fight the crime. Compare to Tobey Maguire, does Andrew Garfield look a tad to pretty to be a nerdy Peter Parker? If you look past that, his flourishing romance scene with the Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy is chemistry spot on.

We are reminded on numerous occasions that the wall crawler is actually no more than a geeky Peter Parker in suit; I find it hilariously genuine when he is in full spandex suit, he still carry backpack; he received calls from Aunt May asking him to buy organic eggs, he played with his cellphone while waiting for The Lizard.... his actions evidently showing he was merely an orphaned teenager who discover his newfound superpower, Wolverine he is not. Whenever the gravity defying masked crimefighter in full swing action, the fair share of it happen during glitering night of New York City. Again, bridge is used as location to one of the action scene.

The most common argument against the reboot Amazing Spider-Man is: It does not bring anything new to the table; it is a blatant, soulless money grabber. But then after the cold reception of Spider-Man 3 (2007), the continuation of Sam Raimi's part 4 may seems like heading towards nothing short of wearing itself out. After watching the latest instalment, I felt I do not have to bash the previous version to like the current TAS-M, they are both worthy in their own way in adapting the story of web swinger from the comic. TAS-M is a refreshing approach to explore the origin of Spider-Man, and that is certainly NOT the backhanded compliment I gave.

1 star = Pathetic, SowYau feel ashamed of watching it
2 stars = Off the mark material, approach with caution
3 stars = Generally good, you should watch it if it's your favourite genre
4 stars = Excellent, strongly recommended
5 stars = A classic status? Only time will tell. But it is definitely in SowYau's Hall of Fame List


In Time (Andrew Niccol, 2011)

Time is money, we all know the quote. Andrew Niccol acknowledged the concept by visually paraphrase it. How about "people buy time to cheat death"?

Imagine our world in the future where Time replace Money as the currency, human's DNA is genetically engineered, allow every human born and age like normal until 25 years old, that is where you stop aging, yes you read it right, stop aging, physically remain forever at 25 years old, well if you can. The catch is, you are given only another year to live after 25 years old and you have to earn a living (more like survival). The glowing countdown timer embedded at the forearm always reminds you how much time you have to live. Meaning you must work to make sure your timer do not run down to a series of zero numbers, which is equal to an instant death.

Ghetto is the place where the hardcore poor people live and earn their living day to day, their life expectancy is often left with days if not hours. Worker wages are paid in the currency of Time, people buy a cup of coffee of 4 minutes, a bus trip for 2 hours et cetera. While the poors are constantly facing the burden of currency inflation, life, however is lavishly rich on the other side, at a place called New Greenwich where people there can live for centuries without going through menopause. "Time zones" were created to keep wealthy folks from the poors because it cost an exorbitant fee to cross the border. Our blue-collar hero Justin Timberlake gets into trouble by involving in a murder crime, he goes on a run, trespass into New Greenwich and kidnap The Powerpuff Girl, I mean Amanda Seyfried, who played the billionaire's daughter. Both of them go on the run while the Timekeeper, a law enforcer (Cillian Murphy) is on their heel.

Himself a regular writer and director, Andrew Niccol's cine world is often relate to someone who tries to overcome an established (sometimes an unfair) system, Gattaca (1997) to me, will always be the pinnacle of his career, an exquisite work of inspiring art. The dystopian setting of In Time has a lot in common with Gattaca, both are based on a thought provoking idea eventhough the lacklustre storytelling of the former did not back up the far fetch premise. It has the usual car / on foot chase and be chased action, still I find myself a tad difficult to soak up the whole mumbo jumbo issue of human can live forever as long as the timer on their forearm is ticking. Well, call me a prejudice jerk, in movies, i accept people travel faster than light, heck i love Back to The Future series to death with its time travel stuff, but I cannot give the nod to anything that is related to EVERLASTING LIFE. Hence here it is, my cold shoulder towards the on screen lovely pair that I am suppose to care.

This movie only skim off the surface, where there are many repercussion in a society where the people are not going to age a bit after hitting quater of a century. Niccol need a team of experts (read: futurists) to cook up the plausible scenarios for In Time to be based on, not with this juvenile attempt. OK, before somebody undermine my understanding in this movie, let me say i got it, I am aware of the relevant social commentary, the inequity between the rich and the poor with the crooked corporate capitalism undertone. Though I love the overall look of the movie which to me is aesthetically elegance, it has a retro feel to it, with all the budget constrain, Niccol aptly created the retrospective future background, the tech noir-ish cars and architecture. Oh how I wish In time can rival Gattaca and The Truman Show (1998) that deeply evoked my emotion towards the triumph of the human spirit. 

I almost forgot to mention this: Forget the naysayer, once again it proves Justin Timberlake CAN act.

1 star = Pathetic, SowYau feel ashamed of watching it
2 stars = Off the mark material, approach with caution
3 stars = Generally good, you should watch it if it's your favourite genre
4 stars = Excellent, strongly recommended
5 stars = A classic status? Only time will tell. But it is definitely in SowYau's Hall of Fame List