This franchise reboot with Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone is signficantly more exciting than it has any right to be...
Sony / 136 Minutes / 2012 / Rated PG-13 / Street Date: November 9, 2012
The very concept that Hollywood is rebooting franchises that are barely ten years old screams of widespread industry creative bankruptcy, but as long as the end results look like The Amazing Spider-Man, it's okay. Significantly more finessed and cocksure than Sam Raimi's Peter Parker movies ever were, this fresh reimagining of the Spider-Man origin tale is straight to the point and as easily digestible as movie theater popcorn. Of all the T. Rex blockbusters thrust upon us this summer, Spider-Man was perhaps the most reliable.
Part of this revolves around the fact, though, that the movie doesn't exactly reach for the stars in terms of narrative nuance. One gets the impression here that the filmmakers know that their audience has already seen (and re-seen) this story before, so in lieu of reformatting Parker's transition from mumbling geek to city savior in any major way, it's setup so there is twenty minutes of foundation storytelling and then almost two hours of just action. This sort of construction allows for both comic book dweebs and regular-Joe moviewatchers to both have a shot at enjoying the thing: and for the most part, it works.
No need to synopsize, I suppose - Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield, The Social Network), radioactive spider, dead parents, vengeance, hot chick (Emma Stone), old family friend who was actually a dingbat mad scientist the whole time (Rhys Ifans): again, we've been down this road before. But with Garfield and Stone establishing early on a steady and excitingly electric romantic chemistry and Ifans getting down and dirty with the scenery-chewing his villainous character has so much potential for, even if The Amazing Spider-Man is the same old story we've sat through a handful of times, it certainly doesn't feel that way.
No, this Spider-Man is peppy and frequently thrilling. Again, it doesn't have any significant desire to be more than just another summer action flick - as fun as it is, there is little doubt of its disposability in the long term - but exchanging pretense for all-out escapism is The Amazing Spider-Man's greatest feat. You'll forget most of it the day after you watch it, but during those precious few hours during which Peter Parker grows from boy to (spider) man, his adventures are ours. Who cares if there's no dramatic or intellectual prowess to it? It's fun.