‘Spider-Man’ back with entertaining reboot
|Andrew Garfield (Spider-Man) and Emma Stone (Gwen Stacy) star in “The Amazing Spider-Man.”|
|Photo courtesy of Columbia Pictures Industries Inc.
Garfield is Peter Parker, a skateboarding outsider at a particularly cruel high school, one where bully beatings are attended by a good portion of the student body. Parker tries to stop a pummeling and comes out the worse for it. He’ll return home to Aunt May (Sally Field) and Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) with bruises, and not for the last time.
May and Ben, both with hearts of gold, are raising Peter because his parents had to skip town when he was young. Some details as to why are revealed in the movie, some are left for sequels, but enough is told to set the plot in motion. We learn Peter’s father worked with scientist Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans). Connors is now a renowned genetic scientist, working on human-animal hybrids at the worldwide headquarters of You Know This Isn’t Going to End Well.
Connors takes time from his busy schedule to mentor sharp-as-a-tack high school intern Gwen Stacy (Stone). Stacy has a fondness for introvert Parker, but, as what always seems to happen, romance faces obstacles when your potential beau has transformed into a human arachnid with super strength and wall-crawling ability. The scene where Parker gets his spider powers in a dark room with a luminescent blue wheel of — well, you’ll find out — is equal parts creepy and beautiful. (According to my daughter, the “creepy” percentage is closer to 80 percent.)
It takes about an hour — and one traumatic event that will come as a surprise only to Spidey newbies — for our hero to become our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. And once we reach that point, it would have been nice if the movie had something to knock our socks off, a villain-superhero face-off that goes above and beyond. But the villainous creature that runs amok for the rest of the movie’s 136-minute running time is nothing special, and is hampered by the kind of dialogue that works better when read on a comic book page. It’s what takes place on the periphery that’s more of a keeper. Peter’s relationship with Gwen, whose father is New York’s Spider-Man-hating chief of police (Denis Leary), holds our attention, with no special effects needed.
Garfield, who was in “The Social Network” (as well as a pretty dreadful “Dr. Who” episode), handles the iconic role with style. While he looks like a teen as much as the students in “Glee” do, he expresses well the inner turmoil of Parker. He and Stone are terrific together, and they’ll be a tough pair to beat in 2024, when, if the pattern holds, the series gets another reboot.
The movie, now in theaters, is rated PG-13 for sequences of action and violence.
*** (out of four)
Craig Marks is a cartoonist and editorial, sports and entertainment writer for the West Side Leader.
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