'Web and Flow' with Spider-Man 

click to enlarge Andrew Garfield plays the title role in “The Amazing Spider-Man”; the rebooted film version of the comic-book hero’s story has a nice focus on character development. - COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy Photo
  • Andrew Garfield plays the title role in “The Amazing Spider-Man”; the rebooted film version of the comic-book hero’s story has a nice focus on character development.

‘The Amazing Spider-Man” is a total reboot from the ground up, replacing just about everyone involved in Sam Raimi’s “Spider-Man” trilogy.

With Raimi’s “Spider-Man 2” being one of the two or three great superhero movies to date, the new film — with Andrew Garfield taking over for Tobey Maguire as the title character —  has big shoes to fill.

While Garfield may look more like a superhero, Maguire was a much better fit in the role.  

The true appeal of Spider-Man isn’t necessarily Spider-Man. It’s his alter-ego, Peter Parker, the lonely, nerdy guy whose problems never end. He has girl troubles, family troubles, friend troubles, money troubles, job troubles and more. Putting on a red-and-blue suit and beating up bad guys is actually the least of it.

While Maguire was nerdier, more uncertain and more vulnerable, Garfield (best known as Eduardo in “The Social Network”) is tall and handsome, with piercing eyes and good hair. He’s upset and angry, but also aggressive and decisive in many situations.

He seems to be able to handle things, including asking out the pretty Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone).

His worst problems stem from a new origin story in which viewers meet Peter’s father (Campbell Scott) and mother (Embeth Davidtz) in a flashback. Their work on a secret project  has placed them in danger, so they whisk young Peter away to live with his aunt May (Sally Field) and uncle Ben (Martin Sheen).

From there, the Spider lore is the same: Peter gets bitten by a radioactive spider, and uncle Ben is shot and killed, even though Peter could have saved him.

The requisite supervillain is the Lizard, aka Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans), a scientist who experiments with reptile DNA as a means to grow back his lost arm.

Connors once worked with Peter’s father; the rest of the mystery surrounding him apparently is being saved for the sequel.

Marc Webb — a perfect name for Spidey! — who also directed the excellent “(500) Days of Summer,” does a competent job, although he falters a bit on action-effects sequences, using quick cuts to disguise uncertainty.
But he makes up that deficiency in the character department, focusing on fewer characters and more concentrated interactions than did the last “Spider-Man” movie.

Even though the new film comes up short compared to Raimi’s work, it still hits the mark.

The Amazing Spider-Man ★★★

  • Starring Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans
  • Written by James Vanderbilt, Alvin Sargent, Steve Kloves
  • Directed by Marc Webb
  • Rated PG-13
  • Running time 2 hours, 16 minutes

About The Author

Jeffrey M. Anderson

Jeffrey M. Anderson

Jeffrey M. Anderson has written about movies for the San Francisco Examiner since 2000, in addition to many other publications and websites. He holds a master's degree in cinema, and has appeared as an expert on film festival panels, television, and radio. He is a founding member of the San Francisco Film Critics... more
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