Is it legit to retell an origin story that was told just ten years ago? Apparently the 2002 version of how Peter Parker got his powers wasn’t quite accurate, because the new movie changes some of the details.
The rebooted story of “The Amazing Spider-Man” stars Andrew Garfield of “The Social Network” fame. Unlike former Spiderman Tobey McGuire, he’s hunky and does not have a high-pitched voice. It’s much harder to buy Garfield as a weak, meek target of high school bullies. McGuire was a better wimp.
Not that Garfield doesn’t do a good job—he does. Garfield’s Spiderman embraces his new powers more readily than did McGuire’s Spidey. His powers first come into play in a memorable scene in a subway car when Parker is not quite yet aware of all he can do. It’s a fun scene.
His love interest is Gwen, played by Emma Stone. Kirsten Dunst as Mary Jane in the ’02 movie took some time to figure out that Parker was Spiderman. Gwen gets hip quick. While there’s nothing quite as sexy as the upside down kiss in the ’02 Spidey flick with Kirsten Dunst’s nipples visible under her wet blouse, there is a bit of heat between Peter/Spiderman and Gwen. Emma’s got legs and they are given good screen time.
Gwen’s dad is a police boss, played by Denis Leary. Leary is leery (sorry!) of Spiderman and his intentions. When Gwen has Peter over for dinner, her dad and the unmasked Spidey have a contentious conversation about the Web-Slinger.
The villain is Dr. Curt Connors, played by Rhys Ifans. Parker’s vanished father had been a research partner of Connors. In an effort to check out the possibility of cross-species genetics, Connors injects himself and becomes a rather violent giant lizard. In lizard mode, he wreaks major civic havoc until our hero saves the day.
Martin Sheen and Sally Field are featured as Peter Parker’s aunt and uncle who raise him after his parents make a quick getaway. Cliff Robertson’s role as Parker’s uncle in the ’02 film was more poignant and meaningful than is Sheen’s. As for Parker’s parents, a post-credits coda teases that their fate may be learned in the next Spiderman movie.
It is true that this movie about a SPIDER man is directed by a man named… WEBB! Marc Webb previously directed “500 Days of Summer,” but has never taken on anything as big as this. He does an efficient job of storytelling and bringing freshness to story elements that have been presented on screen before. The effects are good but they do not “drown out” the plot line as happens in some tent pole type franchise movies.
Why so many comparisons to the ’02 movie with McGuire and Dunst in this review? Well, that first “Spiderman” movie is still #12 on the all-time box office list! It has not exactly faded from our collective memory.
Can the new version even come close to the $403.7 million US box office total of Spidey One? With a favorable opening date, just ahead of Independence Day, and eager anticipation from moviegoers, the outlook is good to go big.