Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, November 29, 2012


Peter Parker practices his spider powers

THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN (2012). Director: Marc Webb.

The 4th Spider-Man movie goes back to the beginning with a new actor and retells the origin of the arachnid hero. Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) acquires spider-based powers, tries to use them for good, and comes afoul of his girlfriend's father, police captain Stacey (Denis Leary). Worse is that a one-armed scientist named Curt Connors (a scenery-chewing Rhys Ifans), who knew Peter's late father, has transformed into a hulking lizard-man monster that is threatening the city. If there had been no other Spider-Man movies, Amazing Spider-Man would have been fine, but it's all been done before, and done better [Spider-Man 2]. The Lizard was a popular villain in the comic books, but he's been transformed into a rampaging FX creature like the Hulk, somehow making him less interesting. There are some good action scenes -- and excellent photography -- but nothing as eye-popping as the climax of Spider-Man 2. Garfield is on target as the hero, and he gets fine support from Sally Field and Martin Sheen as his Aunt May and Uncle Ben. [The comic book origin has been fiddled with a bit so that Parker isn't quite indirectly responsible for his uncle's death.] Leary is adequate as Stacey, and Emma Stone has some good moments as his daughter, Gwen. Spider-Man's antagonist, newspaper publisher J. Jonah Jameson, doesn't appear in the movie at all. Co-creator Stan Lee has a funny cameo, and C. Thomas Howell [Young Toscanini] has a couple of good sequences as the father of a little boy saved by our amazin' hero. Despite its flaws [or over-familiarity], Amazing Spider-Man is by no means a bad picture and fans should still get a kick out of it. Garfield was also in the Robert Redford film Lions for Lambs.

Verdict: Slick if somewhat empty razzle dazzle. ***.

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