So when I took the notion to go to the cinema tonight, my starting point was deciding what to see - effectively a straight choice between Prometheus (mixed reviews, Ridley-Scott, limited link to Alien) and The Amazing Spiderman (intriguing from point of view of being a reboot but I knew very little else apart from that).
Anyway, Spiderman won and I took my seat for the 7.30pm screening (not before being sold a ticket for an earlier showing despite the full schedule being displayed on the screen behind the counter assistant. Thankfully the Usher had a better knowledge of what was on and when, so I didn't miss the start.)
Normally I would avoid the release day of a major blockbuster -I like my cinema auditoria to be sparsely populated, especially if the film is likely to appeal to kids - but seeing as Tuesday is a quiet night anyway, I thought it safe to take a chance. As it was, there were around a dozen people in the screening I chose. Goodness only knows why it has been released on a Tuesday - am guessing it has a worldwide release and other markets have Tuesdays as regular release days.
As I said, my main interest was to see how they handled re-booting the Spiderman franchise. I had enjoyed the first two of the Tobey Maguire films but had been less than impressed by the last one. In the hands of a new creative team, with a new lead actor, would Spiderman follow Batman and Star Trek in being rejuvenated by a new approach - or would it follow Superman Returns in lacking the success of those franchises?
Time will tell when it comes to the success of the film but I'm afraid to say I wasn't hugely impressed. Indeed, I seem to have filled up this review with a great deal of talk which isn't about the film - mainly because I can't think of that much to say.
It isn't that it's particularly bad - it just isn't particularly good. Andrew Garfield is alright as Peter Parker (although his accent seems to slip occasionally). Emma Stone is alright as Gwen Stacy. Rhys Ivans is good as Dr Curt Connors, although I was less keen on his performance his alter-ego The Lizard (the face and voice of which reminded me of Voldermort in the Harry Potter films). Sally Fields is good as the long suffering Aunt May. Best, though, is President Bartlett Martin Sheen as Uncle Ben. Sadly his time in the film is all to short, aside from the prophetic voicemail he leaves prior to his murder.
The schedule board at the ticket counter - you remember, where the assistant was oblivious to the number and timing of the screenings - billed The Amazing Spiderman as Spiderman 4. Don't be fooled; it isn't. This is a complete re-write of the origins of Spiderman - as if the previous three films never happened.
I'm led to believe that in a number of respects, this version more closely follows the comics than the previous versions - specifically Spiderman's web is produced from a manufactured device rather than coming out of him directly. Another difference is that he lets his secret be known to Gwen from quite early on, rather than lead an entirely double life although whether this is authentic, I'm not sure.
In other respects, the story will be familiar - Parker is orphaned at a young age, is raised by his Aunt and Uncle, is an outsider at school, he finds his way to a Scientific Research Corporation - in this case the former employer of his father - where he gets bitten by a spider. He develops extraordinary powers of grip and strength which he learns to control whilst, simultaneously, becoming less of the steady and reliable Nephew he had been. Ultimately his own conscious inaction when he witnesses a robbery leads directly to his Uncle's murder and to the invention of Spiderman himself.
Spiderman's quest for justice brings him to the attention of the Police - and diverts attention from the antics of Oscorp and Dr Curt Connors. Parker's quest for peace and an understanding of his father's legacy leads him to give Connors the final piece of the puzzle preventing inter-species mutation. Connors quest for a World Without Weakness leads him develop his Lizard serum and seek to disseminate it to all New York. Ultimately, Spiderman must find a way to save the city and defeat Connors - and fulfil his Uncle's ambition that he take the opportunities to do good which present themselves to him.
Whilst more attention is given to the human side of Spiderman - he is repeatedly injured whilst in character - this isn't explored as deeply as it could be with Parker shrugging off the injuries sustained.
Ultimately, this is a bit of a missed opportunity; with a bit more drama and tension this could have been a good film. There is, however, too much comedy, too much slush, too much silliness and too much padding for it to really work.
So, this month's first cinema trip was a bit of a disappointment. Still, I got to see a trailer for November's Skyfall on the bigscreen. And President Bartlett. So it wasn't all bad. And there is The Dark Knight Rises to come later...
P.S. If you do go and see it, stay past the start of the end credits and you'll see a teaser for the next film - if and when it happens, though, I won't be rushing to see it.