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.
Jamie Foxx has lined up a splashy post–Django Unchained gig: Variety reports that Sony has booked the once and future Willie Beamen as the villain Electro in The Amazing Spider-Man 2. As Foxx tweeted, "Dressed up as Electro for Halloween last night. Costume fits well." So he's just going to bring a costume from home? Smart cost-cutting move, Sony!
The big news from this weekend's box office breakdown is that, as expected, The Amazing Spider-Man crushed it. Opening on July 4, Eduardo Saverin's Spidey rolled into $65 million in its first weekend and $140 million in its first six days. As EW explains, those numbers are actually lower than the pace set by all three of Tobey Maguire's Spider-Man movies, none of which had the benefit of boosted 3-D and IMAX ticket prices. But considering both the possibility of the quickie reboot flopping altogether, and the fact that this is just the first installment of a whole new franchise, the numbers (and an A- Cinemascore) are wholly promising.
It’s upfronts season in New York City, when all the networks are spinning their new fall shows as fast as they can. To celebrate, Chris Ryan and I took a first pass at a bunch of them (1:10), separating the maybe-winners (Fox’s The Mindy Project, NBC’s Revolution) from the kinda-losers (NBC’s Next Caller, Fox’s on-the-nose-like-bifocals-titled The Mob Doctor). We also touched on NBC’s returning Thursday-night lineup and what to expect when you’re expecting The Office to be bad and Community to be buried on Friday nights. Some conversation about our Sunday-night anchors, Mad Men (15:40) and Game of Thrones (22:10), helped ease the pain. Then it was off to the multiplexes, where Chris gushed with excitement over Battleship (27:30) while I rolled my eyes at The Amazing Spider-Man (32:45). We finished up by defending the honor of rapper Freeway (37:50), our fellow Philadelphian, and unveiling the latest entry into our Double Down Summer Reading Club (43:45), Alan Furst, whose stylish, atmospheric World War II thrillers (including The Polish Officer and The World at Night) should be more than enough to erase any painful memories of wisecracking Naval petty officer Rihanna. Boom, indeed.
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.
Dan Silver: As a kid I bought more Spider-Man comics than those of any other superhero. I attended the midnight screenings for both Spider-Man 1 and 2, and yet, outside of some lingering loyalty to the character and minor curiosity as to why this series needed another reboot, I have minimal interest in seeing The Amazing Spider-Man. The slew of previously released teasers and trailers have been inconsistent in their agenda — here’s a dark and brooding one, here’s a teen angsty one, here’s a playful one — and this latest installment does little to excite, clarify, justify, or dissuade any doubt about the film. For me, this 2:35 played like an old toy ad from the '80s. But instead of toys and kids, this trailer serves us video game-looking CGI action and glimpses of Emma Stone, Andrew Garfield, Sally Field, and Denis Leary. If the goal was to reinvigorate the Spider-Man franchise, why couldn’t/didn’t Marvel opt to place him in The Avengers? Tease audiences with some kick-ass web-slinger action, and leave them wanting more, then hit them with the stand-alone film (or unnecessary reboot)? This strategy seems to be working for the Hulk. (Note: I know Marvel wasn’t the only one at fault here. Sony has as much to do with this film as any party involved.)
Silver: After seeing Channing Tatum’s comedy chops in 21 Jump Street, it was clear that this guy was 3-5 years away from Will Smith-level superstardom. He’s a quadruple threat; action hero (G.I. Joe), dramatic actor (A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints), funny man (21 Jump Street), and sex symbol (name any of his films). So although a small character piece about a male stripper doesn’t feel like the logical follow-up to Tatum’s newly upped Q Score, I’d argue that this film is exactly what he needs as it fulfills his final requirement to the “I’d like to inquire about the cost of that island” club, as this is the film that will highlight the sensitive and vulnerable side of Tatum. As a result, millions of women around the world will subconsciously view him as “attainable.” So let the comparisons to current and future mates begin. It also doesn’t hurt that in Magic Mike Tatum and his abs play a successful male stripper, or that the film is semi-autobiographical and is a result of conversations between Mike’s director Steven Soderbergh and Tatum while on the set of Haywire. If this movie has any success, look for Tatum to be a dark horse for an Oscar nomination in the fall.
Silver: I’m going to start by stating the obvious — books and movies are not the same thing. Just speaking to the form, a written narrative is a much more enveloping and demanding (in a good way) medium since the majority of the experience is left to the reader’s imagination. This is not saying that movies are an inferior medium; they just employ different and more overt tools to tell stories and extract responses. Therefore, certain scenarios that work on the page, do not, and cannot, translate to the screen.
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.