The Amazing Spiderman (Rated PG-13) 4 Stars

07-25-12-movie.gifI was a huge fan of Sam Raimi’s 2002 Spiderman, and admittedly skep-tical that a reboot was warranted. Yes, the third film sucked like a Hoover, but isn’t tossing The Amazing Spiderman (136 minutes) into the mix sort of like dancing on the grave of a modern classic? And do we really need to sit through yet another origin story? I know we, as a people, have increasingly shorter attention spans and can’t retain memories for more than a few minutes, but I am getting deja vu all over again. Still, I will give credit where credit is due and confess that despite some logi-cal inconsistencies, the reboot could have been a lot worse.

The film opens with little Peter Parker being delivered to Aunt May (Sally Field) and Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) by his parents (Campbell Scott and Embeth Davidtz). Peter grows up and develops into a fine young man (Andrew Garfield), attending Midtown Science High School with Gwen Stacy (Stone) and Flash Thompson (Chris Zylka). Circumstances combine to reveal a connection between Peter’s father and Oscorp scientist Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans). Since it is so easy to get past security and sneak into top-secret corporate R&D offices, Peter joins a crowd of interns, coincidentally being led around by Gwen Stacy.

She realizes that he doesn’t belong in her group, but since her future with Oscorp means nothing compared to boys she lets him slide by. Which he does, right into a highly secured facility filled with enough chemicals and stuff to make a million WMD’s. Despite his supposed smarts, he shows no hesitation in fiddling with an experiment that he knows nothing about, which leads to a radioactive spider biting him.

That, along with Peter playing with his new spider powers, takes up about an hour of the film. Then, he rather unwisely decides to check in with Dr. Connors and provide him with some of the formulas his father had developed for cross-species genetic splicing. The two promptly begin testing a reptile-mice splice. Unbeknownst to Peter but knownst to the audience, Dr. Connors has been under pressure to make progress on his work or lose control of the project — and since Connors is missing an arm he is motivated to test the formula on himself.

It turns out to be a bad decision, since it turns him into The Lizard, and ap-parently drives him a little nuts (though maybe he was nuts to begin with, or just mad with guilt over something he did or failed to do that will be covered in future films). Meanwhile, Peter is being an angst-filled teenage boy, getting into trouble at school and disappointing his Aunt and Uncle with his self-centered behavior.

After a family fight, we get to see Uncle Ben get shot in the millionth version of the Spiderman “with great power comes great responsibility” scene. Depressed but super strong, Spiderman develops a cool new costume based on what the Olympians and Mexican wrestlers wear and sets out to find the guy that killed Uncle Ben. He quickly catches the attention of the Police Captain (a surprisingly well cast Denis Leary). Things get a bit cheesy and sentimental in the latter third of the film, but my interest was definitely piqued by the appearance of Michael Massee in an after-credits scene.

Between the two films, Willem Dafoe’s Green Goblin easily outshines Ifans’ Lizard and the 2002 plot was more logical. On the other hand, watch-ing Emma Stone play Gwen Stacy (the Gwen Stacy stories were better any-way) only illustrated how out of her depth Kirsten Dunst was as Mary Jane Watson, and the new costume is way better. Fans will not be disappointed, and if nothing else, this version sets up a character arc that can sustain a trilogy.

Now showing at Wynnsong 7, Carmike 12 and Carmike Market Fair 15.

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