Feldman @ the flicksPeter Feldman
Peter Feldman: The eagerly-awaited production, The Amazing Spider-Man, exceeds all expectations in this dazzlingly energetic version.
The Amazing Spider-Man
Cast; Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans, Denis Leary, Sally Field, Martin Sheen
Director: Marc Webb
Spider-Man is perhaps the most popular and beloved comic-book character of the genre and has enjoyed several big screen treatments before – but nothing like this dazzlingly energetic version.
Behind the swagger of the Spider-Man costume lurks Peter Parker, a geeky, insecure teenager with girl problems and big family issues. His scientist father, Richard, and mother Mary, died in a mysterious plane crash and it was left to his aunt and Uncle, Ben (worldly-wise Martin Sheen) and Aunt May (Sally Field) to lay down the law and bring him up in suburban New York.
At school he is bullied, he has problems connecting with girls, and he is considered a loner; a typical day in the life of a teenager.
He has his eye on brainy blonde classmate, Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone), who happens to be the daughter of the police chief (Denis Leary). Gwen, however, has a boyfriend, Flash Thompson (Chris Zyka), the school’s star athlete and chief bully.
The action element moves up a few gears when Peter discovers that his father’s former partner, Dr Curt Conners (Rhys Ifans), is attempting to re-grow his missing arm using a cross-species genetic formula that Peter’s father had hidden. Connors, who works in a high-tech laboratory, injects the formula into his body and is instantly transformed into a monster reptile - the villain of the piece.
While wandering around the lab Peter is bitten by a genetically enhanced spider and miraculously gains super powers that he has to learn to control.
Where director Marc Webb’s extravagant production succeeds over its predecessors, is the sensitive manner in which it deals with the psychology of Peter’s character, illuminating aspects such as the pangs of growing up, his touchy relationship with his adoptive parents, and his love for the intricacies of science, something he inherited from his father.
The film is awesome. It takes viewers through the origins of Spider-Man with style and verve, from the opening sequences of Parker’s sensory awakenings to his acceptance at the end of his adult responsibilities.
It’s not merely a flat-out action film with our super hero going through the loops - it’s far better than that on all fronts.
The characters are far better developed, the motivation is stronger and the action sequences superbly orchestrated.
Briton Andrew Garfield is terrific as Peter Parker (even mastering the American accent), and his spindly physicality reminds one of the comic book illustrations from the past. As the teenager he faces moral conflict but he accepts his super powers and plots his destiny. It is well known that with great power comes great responsibility and the film goes a long way to amplify this truism.
The rest of the cast is splendid. Rhys Irfans make a spellbinding villain, while Emma Stone shows warmth and sensitivity as she succumbs to Parker’s charms and unearths his Spider-man alter-ego.
It was nice, too, to see Martin Sheen (albeit briefly) and Sally Field in big-screen focus and Denis Leary as a cynical cop.
All in all, a wonderful experience and the 3D effects add immeasurably to the production. It’s darkly mysterious and loads of fun.
Cast: Guy Pearce, Maggie Grace, Peter Stormare
Directors: James Mather and Stephen St Leger
Producer Luc Besson, who has been involved with a few outrageous action flicks in his time, has surfaced in outer space and it’s another full frontal attack on the senses.
His two directors, James Mather and Stephen St Leger, have fashioned a movie that is aimed strictly at action junkies, those people who don’t mind a ridiculous story-line and a deluge of orchestrated chaos.
The movie is set in 2079 and centres on Snow (Guy Pearce), an ex-government agent who has been framed for murder. To gain his freedom, he must volunteer to go on a dangerous mission to rescue Emilie Warlock (Maggie Grace), the President’s daughter, from a rioting mob of convicts at an outer space maximum security prison.
Things are taken to ridiculous heights in this escapade where hardened killer convicts are put into deep sleep and can only be revived by stabbing a needle into their eyes. They are so grateful for this gesture that they immediately go on the rampage and kill everything in sight – except the President’s pretty daughter who becomes an invaluable hostage. She happens to be at the prison on a fact-finding mission in which she has to determine whether the prisoners suffer harm by being put into a sort of cryogenic state. It’s a nice thank you she gets for her troubles.
Guy Pearce plays Snow, the man given the mission impossible, and he has to deal with the gang leaders, inmate Alex (Vincent Regan) and his psycho brother Hydell (Joseph Gilgun), who have seized control.
Peter Stormare is the government honcho who sends Pearce on the mission and tries to get a grip on things from planet earth – but with no success.
There are isolated moments of amusing dialogue, with Pearce continually making wise-cracks, but the whole enterprise is a somewhat disjointed effort.
Among its many problems is the manner in which the final, epic confrontation is handled. These battles are a requirement for this kind of movie, but the directors have conveniently avoided it, making the resolution anti-climactic. Gaping holes and ridiculous developments only add to the confusion of “Lock Out.”
Feldman has been a journalist and arts critic for over 45 years and served on The Star in various capacities for 35 years, ending up as a specialist writer on films, music and theatre. During that time he travelled extensively on assignments and interviewed many international film and pop stars, both in South Africa and overseas. He also covered some of South Africa's biggest film and musical events. He is active in the freelance field and his work over the past 12 years has appeared in a variety of South African newspapers and magazines. He writes regularly for Artslink.co.za, The Citizen, South African Jewish Report, The Sunday Independent and is a contributor to "Eat Out" Magazine. He also contributes movie reviews on Mondays to The Gordon Hoffman Easy Morning Show on 1485 Radio Today (www.1485.org.za) and has worked on TV in his specialist capacity. Over the years Feldman has been the recipient of several awards for his contribution to music journalism and the SA record industry. He wrote lyrics for some top artists, including Sipho Mabuse, and had a hit disco single, "Video Games," which was released in 1988. After retiring from The Star in April, 1999, Feldman joined the PR and events management company, Dlamini Weil Communications, where he currently works as an entertainment and media consultant.