How you feel about this reboot of Marvel's superhero franchise probably depends a great deal on how much you liked Sam Raimi's Spider-Man 3. Since I hated Spider-Man 2 so much that I never saw its sequel — guys, it just made no sense for Doc Ock to attack Peter Parker in the middle of the movie if he didn't know he was also Spider-Man!!! — I thought The Amazing Spider-Man was all right.
Working in The Amazing Spider-Man's favor is, above all, its casting. In the title role, Andrew Garfield may be a bit too cool to be totally believable as a high school pariah — even though, yes, I know, he wears glasses. But you do buy it when his new powers leave him first flummoxed and scared, and then delighted by the possibilities, particularly as they may help him to avenge the death of a loved one. As Gwen, his love interest, Emma Stone is as charming as always. Rhys Ifans — whom I sat next to at my neighborhood Starbucks in New York during filming, no big deal — makes a compelling villain, even if he suffers a bit from the contemporary vogue of making the bad guy too empathetic (not every movie antagonist has to be King Kong). And though the film was quite long in the cinema, it might not feel so sluggish at home if you can read a magazine during the dull parts.
Tom & Katie: "She pulled it off brilliantly. She knew how to get him." When Holmes left on a work trip to China in June, she found out that "Tom was beginning to audit Suri behind her back." Cruise's rep denies it. Auditing is the Scientology practice of "asking specifically worded questions designed to find areas of emotional distress." When Katie visited Tom on the Oblivion set in Iceland, "Tom was filming and Katie tried to discipline Suri over something. But one of Tom's Scientology handlers stepped in and said they couldn't let her do that, and they would have to call Tom." Katie "snapped" and realized her 6-year-old daughter was being indoctrinated. "There's an escalation of involvement when kids hit school age." According to one insider, "It wasn't so much Cruise she feared, but his inner circle and the people handling her. They were so controlling it was terrifying." Katie was "monitored around the clock" and "felt she was being watched more than protected."
In a late-week, holiday-hangover episode of the Hollywood Prospectus Podcast, Andy Greenwald and I get together to talk about how we spent our (brief) summer vacations. I went to see The Amazing Spider-Man (2:40), along with most of America, while Andy checked out a special screening of the '90s indie cult classic Kicking and Screaming (12:00) (not the Will Ferrell soccer one). Both of these cinematic experiences are discussed in depth, with much mirth and reverie.
We then checked the pulse on Aaron Sorkin's The Newsroom (20:20), wondering whether Alison Pill has ever been drunk in real life or if Dev Patel could have ever imagined things could have gotten worse after The Last Airbender. We also discussed the world of music (and what a world it is), praising the holy verses of Pusha T and Kanye West on the new G.O.O.D. Music track, "New God Flow," (29:20) and taking in Frank Ocean's personal revelations (36:26). There was also a bit of talk about Andy's excellent Fourth of July Spotify playlist and the role '90s indie rock band Velocity Girl played in my brief stint as a high school film auteur. Ask about me.
We wrapped it all up with some Double Down Book Club. This week's author is British spy-novel-master John le Carré (45:40); we heaped praise on his masterpiece Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy as well as some lesser-known works, The Tailor of Panama and Absolute Friends. Check it out: The podcast fireworks have only just begun.
Why would Spider-Man get a reboot — this time, with Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker — only five years after the Tobey Maguire–led franchise churned out its last installment? Because of $$$$$. THR is reporting that the new Spidey movie, The Amazing Spider-Man, is tracking extremely well with all kinds of audience demographics, "suggesting a six-day opening of $125 million or more, the best showing of any summer film outside of box office goliath The Avengers." Well then!
A four-minute super trailer for The Irrepressible Dr. Spider-Man MD premiered last night during America's Neediest Dance Crew, or something! It appeared to contain about 23 percent previously unseen footage, but did feature 100 percent more C. Thomas Howell, who shows up in the 90-second burning-minivan-rescue scene at the start of the trailer in the role of fan-favorite character Somebody Help Me My Kid Is Trapped. Oh, and when Spider-Man (played by Andrew Garfield, possibly the handsomest person ever to make a living playing nerds) swings into action, there are dubsteppy womp-womp noises. This is because dubsteppy womp-womp noises are the best thing to happen to movie-trailer cutters since "Solsbury Hill" — sick drop in the Battleship trailer, bro! — and also because this is not your [insert name of uncool older person, like your father, or Joe Biden, or your older brother who's really nice but just kinda still doesn't have his whole thing together lifewise]'s Spider-Man.
Last night the team behind The Amazing Spider-Man, the latest big-screen reincarnation for Peter Parker, spread out and hit the town in four international locations to release and gas up footage from the new flick. Director Marc Webb was in Los Angeles; Emma Stone, who plays pre-M.J. love interest Gwen Stacy, was in Rio de Janeiro; Rhys Ifans, who plays the villain, a lizard-man type of thing that sort of resembles a mini-Cloverfield monster, was in London; and Andrew Garfield, Spidey himself, was in New York. The idea was to argue that this new version is really, truly, remarkably, no-come-on-for-real different than Sam Raimi-Tobey Maguire’s trilogy, which only ended five years ago. Said Webb: “I think there are a lot of things from the Spider-Man canon that haven’t yet been explored cinematically. This movie really starts off with Peter Parker and his parents, which is something we’ve never really seen before, and I think that was something we were all really interested in exploring as filmmakers."
Jonathan Demme has optioned Stephen King's upcoming 11/22/63, about a high school teacher who travels back in time to prevent JFK's assassination (and the only good Oliver Stone movie since the '80s). Grade: B [Variety]
In a shameless bid to woo 18-24 demographic, Robert Redford has added Susan Sarandon, Julie Christie, and Richard Jenkins to the cast of his The Company You Keep, about a former militant hippie (Redford) pursued by the FBI after his identity is exposed by an ambitious young reporter (Shia LaBeouf). Sarandon and Christie will play former Weather Underground members, and Jenkins, a college professor who aids other former radicals. Grade: B [Deadline]
When Marc Webb was announced as the director of The Amazing Spider-Man, the long overdue reboot of a franchise left sadly rudderless since the first year of the Obama campaign, certain assumptions were made. That Webb just might have the perfect kicky-cool visual style — not to mention last name — to reinvigorate the most pop of popular superheroes. That a greater emphasis would be placed on the story’s sweet-natured romance between Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy, his doomed (in the comics at least) blonde love. That even if Spidey didn’t tussle with the Vulture he at least might dance with him to some early-eighties Yacht Rock in a totally non-ironic way.