Friday, July 27, 2012

We Can Be Heroes...

Leaving the theater in style (others used the
front door)! Photo ©Jeremy Clowe. All rights
and Spidey-sense reserved.
Yesterday was a good day. Sarah treated me to dinner (including my free mega-margarita from Bombers Burrito Bar) and a movie. We finally went to see the new Amazing Spider-Man movie—I had been waiting to see it.

Now, as a long-time Spidey fanatic, I was skeptical about this new version, following so soon on the heels of director Sam Raimi's trilogy of films. I liked Tobey Maguire in the role of Peter Parker/Spider-Man, and first thought this new actor (Andrew Garfield) looked a little too hip... pretty. The more I saw the trailers, I started to change my mind—it seemed to have a different aesthetic from the previous films, and the introduction of Parker's "other" girlfriend, Gwen Stacy, was an interesting move. In the comics, there was a tragic storyline involving Gwen's character... I wondered how closely they would follow this in the new movie.

Well, we enjoyed this new movie. It did, indeed, have a different tone than Raimi's version. One thing that struck me was the acting—a little more natural... realistic... Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy was quite refreshing. But I'm not saying it is better than the other films (except for #3), just different. The other thing that struck me was the cinematography—much darker, with many shadows falling. It made me think they were taking a cue from Christopher Nolan's new Batman movies (that's next on my list). The storyline was very well-done, relying less on the original story, but weaving (pun intended) some interesting details into the plot, like how Spidey received his super powers. It gelled rather nicely with the introduction of the super villain, The Lizard (who looked pretty cool). 

I think the big advantage this film had over the previous adaptations was the special effects. The use of CGI in Raimi's films can be a little distracting at times, and it was better executed here. I really liked Garfield in the Spider-Man costume... more than I did Tobey Maguire, but I'm torn about the other way around. Maguire is closer to how I picture Peter Parker... Garfield does have the angsty thing down, but he also is... maybe a little too hip. Perhaps it's the way I see the younger generation now... pulling out their computer games or texting... seemingly indifferent... apathetic... oh man, am I getting old? 

Overall, it was a very nice night, and my inner fanboy was thrilled. I always related most to Spider-Man... lots of adversity thrown his way (almost too much), but he perseveres. 

Alex Ross, “Mythology: Superman,” 2005
courtesy of the artist, SUPERMAN,
®, TM and © 2011 DC Comics.
All Rights Reserved.
Earlier in the day we had a meeting at Norman Rockwell Museum regarding our upcoming exhibition on comic book illustrator Alex Ross. I have been a big fan of Ross' work since his extraordinary Marvels books from the 90s, which contained his beautifully executed, realistic paintings of superheroes from the eyes of normal, everyday people. He has become quite a big deal in the comic book industry for his work, and back in 2003 I took my "little brother" (also named Jeremy) to New York City to see an exhibition on his work at Illustration House. We had a chance to meet with the artist, who is a big fan of Norman Rockwell, and I told him at the time that it would be wonderful if someday we were able to exhibit his work at the Museum.

Well, that day has arrived—the show, curated by the Andy Warhol Museum, will open at the Rockwell on November 10, 2012. Heroes and Villains: The Comic Book Art of Alex Ross looks at the acclaimed artist's career (including work for Marvel and DC), and also will feature some original Andy Warhols (interesting to note that he also started his career as an illustrator). 

I felt good that I had so much to offer during our planning meeting... I grew up completely immersed in this world (and collected regularly up through my first year in college), and still go back to visit from time-to-time. Similar to the way that my father and others of his generation learned an appreciation for art through the magazine covers of Norman Rockwell, I gained an appetite for the arts, partly, through the imaginative world of comic books. Yeah, I've got this one covered...

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