The Amazing Spider-Man | Movies | Palo Alto Online |

Movie Review

The Amazing Spider-Man

The Amazing Spider-Man
Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone in "The Amazing Spider-Man"

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Rated PG-13 for action and violence. 2 hours, 16 minutes.
Publication date: Jul. 6, 2012
Review by Tyler Hanley
Released: (2012)

It doesn't take "Spidey sense" to recognize that superhero films are a cash cow. Studios are spinning out comic-book adaptations faster than the Flash runs track, from reboots ("The Amazing Spider-Man") to sequels ("The Dark Knight Rises") to fresh endeavors ("The Avengers").

So while producing another Spider-Man origin film a mere decade after director Sam Raimi's 2002 flick is unnecessary, the web of box-office revenue was apparently too tantalizing a prospect.

"The Amazing Spider-Man" borrows much of its tone and story material from the pages of the "Ultimate Spider-Man" comic series. Andrew Garfield ("The Social Network") is high-school outcast Peter Parker, and Peter's love interest this time around is Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone). Peter's parents left him in the care of his uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) and aunt May (Sally Field) when he was a boy, and he still puzzles over their sudden departure.

Peter discovers his father had been working with one-armed scientist Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans), and visits Connors at research-and-development company OsCorp. A genetically altered spider bites Peter, who starts exhibiting enhanced strength and heightened reflexes. He soon develops a pair of high-tech "web shooters," dons a red-and-blue costume (which looks like it was designed by UnderArmour), dubs himself Spider-Man, and takes to swinging over the city.

Connors, meanwhile, tests an experimental serum on himself in hopes of re-growing his lost limb. But the solution transforms him into a massive, lizard-like beast that can rip through metal and concrete. The relationship between Peter and Gwen develops even as Gwen's gruff cop dad (Denis Leary) is determined to arrest Spider-Man. It all leads up to a big showdown between Spider-Man and "The Lizard," with Gwen and her dad caught in the crossfire.

Viewers will inevitably compare this version to Raimi's 2002 effort, and it could be argued that the two are on equal footing. The visual effects in "Amazing" are superior (including some breathtaking scenes from Spider-Man's P.O.V.) and the Lizard is one of the genre's most frightening villains. The battle scenes between Spider-Man and the Lizard are exceptional.

Garfield is a terrific actor -- better than Maguire -- but his Peter Parker isn't as sympathetic. This Peter rides a skateboard and wears the kind of clothing you would see en masse at a Pearl Jam concert. Stone is a welcome upgrade over the dour Kirsten Dunst, and both Field and Leary are brilliantly cast. The scenes of Peter discovering his powers are highly entertaining, from fending off a violent gang on the subway to hitting the snooze button with a tad too much emphasis.

One of Marvel Comics' popular titles in the 1980s was "The Spectacular Spider-Man," and that adjective describes this film. Both familiar and fresh, it's a spectacle with enough thrills and humor to satisfy most fans.

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