The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)

I am not a fan of reboots of series that are still fresh in my mind, so I knew that The Amazing Spider-Man was going to have to be good to merit a positive review from me. The cast of Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans, and Martin Sheen was enough to draw me to the theater to see it, and I'm glad I did, even though it's a bit different than its 2002 predecessor.

The beginning of the film plays out much like the '02 version, in that Peter Parker (later played by Andrew Garfield, The Social Network) is mysteriously dropped off at the house of his aunt (Sally Field, TV's Brothers & Sisters) and uncle (Martin Sheen, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World), after his parents fear for his safety. His parents later die in a plane crash, and Peter never gets to find out why they were so anxious to clear out of the house. Peter is raised by his aunt and uncle, and he's currently a teenager attending high school in New York City. He's always been interested in science, much like his dad, and when he finds some of his dad's old papers, he decides to revisit an old colleague of his, Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans, The Five-Year Engagement). Peter helps Connors figure out an equation that Peter's dad was working on, not knowing that Connors is going to use it for evil.

Meanwhile, Peter is kind of a "dork" at school (which in real life would never happen, by the way, because Andrew Garfield is gorgeous), and he has a crush on Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone, The Help). Gwen happens to work at Oscorp as an intern, and she sees him there when he is trying to blend in, passing himself off as a new intern. Peter finds himself in a room filled with intricate spider webs, and he can't resist touching one of the strings in the webs, which is the catalyst for the rest of the movie, and the reason for how he acquires his "superpowers."

The film is definitely worth seeing, though I'd now like to rewatch the '02 Spiderman to compare, but the first hour or so of it was mostly rehashing. We see Peter sneak into Oscorp Industries on his own accord, pretending to be an intern - as I recall, Tobey McGuire's Spidey was there on a school field trip - and then wander off on his own, thus getting bitten and finding out later he has incredible strength. The backstory of how he ended up living with his aunt and uncle is established, albeit with a few funny one-liners from Martin Sheen's character. We see that he was a normal teenager before he gets bitten (and we overlook the fact that Garfield is currently 28, almost 29, playing a 17-year-old; Stone is 23 which is more believable). After the first hour, however, The Amazing Spider-Man is allowed to establish its own story, involving Spidey and Dr. Connors, and this is when the movie's personality starts to shine through.

Yes, see this movie, and see it in 3D, if you can - I saw it in 2D, but I have heard the 3D is great, and I can definitely imagine some of the scenes where Garfield is swinging around throughout the city as being awesome in 3D. Garfield's American accent is flawless (he's British), and he and Emma Stone have great chemistry together; they're currently dating in "real life" as well. This new franchise made a smart choice in using Gwen Stacy instead of Mary Jane Watson (previously played by Kirsten Dunst) as Spider-Man's love interest, in that they are able to start fresh and not rehash the same story; the upside-down kiss in the previous movie would have been hard to replicate, but there's another romance-infused scene in this Spidey version that is pretty cool too, if not equally as "epic."

My only issue with the film is that there were a few plot holes. When Peter's uncle gets (SPOILER) murdered, Peter vows to find the murderer, and that is how Spidey is born, actually - as a "vigilante." Midway through the movie, however, Spidey has bigger problems to deal with - namely Dr. Connors transitioning into an evil reptile hell-bent on destroying the city - and he stops looking for the murderer. I later realized that by the end of the film they had never found him, and not only that, they had never even gone back to the plot point at all ... which is a rather big plot hole, in my opinion.

However, The Amazing Spider-Man is a popcorn flick through and through, and overall is still worth seeing, despite its pro's and con's. Don't forget to stay for the credits as there's a scene midway through that sets up the movie for a sequel. And do yourself a favor and try not to compare it to the former Spiderman series ... at least, not too much. Enjoy it for what it is and you will find that it's a decent story, even though it's one that might sound vaguely familiar at times.

The Amazing Spider-Man is currently playing in theaters, and is rated PG-13 with a runtime of 136 minutes. 3.5 stars out of 5.

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