|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. ***.