‘Must see’ movie : The Amazing Spider-Man

Superheroes’ lives are getting shorter

The first feature Superman series began in 1978 — and it was 28 years before Hollywood felt it had to start all over again in 2006, with Superman Returns

Tim Burton’s Batman reclaimed the hero from serials and camp TV in 1989; it would be 16 years before Christopher Nolan rethought the dark Knight for Batman Begins, in 2005

Now, we’ve got The Amazing Spider-Man — a mere 10 years after the original Spider-Man and only five years after the lame third entry that laid the web-head low. While that’s not a record (that would probably go to the two Hulk films, made within five years of each other), it may be the start of a trend

But really, why even debate whether we need another version so soon? With The Amazing Spider-Man, it doesn’t really matter, anyway. Director Marc Webb isn’t reinventing anything here or even trying to. He’s simply telling a story. The important question to ask is whether he tells it well. And with the enormous help of Andrew Garfield in the lead role, the answer is: yes. the movie isn’t so much a reboot — it’s a rejuvenation. From the first image of sensory awakening to the final acceptance of adult responsibility, it pulses with the warm blood of a very human hero

The film begins with 4-year-old Peter Parker (Max Charles) playing hide-and-seek with his scientist father (Campbell Scott). Peter discovers that his father’s office has been broken into and immediately his parents pack up and flee ( their reason, no doubt, will be explained in a sequel!), leaving Peter in the care of Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) and Aunt May (Sally Field) in suburban New York

Flash forward a few years and Peter, now played by Garfield, is still living with them by the time he gets to high school. He’s a smart kid but a bit of a nerd, picked on by school bully Flash (Chris Zylka) yet protected by Flash’s brainy girlfriend, Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone). One day he discovers an old photo of his father with a man he doesn’t recognize; Uncle Ben tells him it’s Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans), who worked with Peter’s father. The two men had a breakthrough in genetic research before Peter’s father disappeared. Peter tracks Connors down to the lab where he is still working on a related project

From here on in, the film basically follows the lead of the first. It’s while at the lab that Peter gets his famous bite from a mutated spider. It doesn’t take long for him to notice a change; he inadvertently shows off his new powers on the subway ride home. Soon he’s using them at school for a little revenge

Those familiar with Spider-Man lore will recognize parts of all this. They’ll also see coming the fate of Uncle Ben, which plunges Peter into a life of crime fighting, much to the chagrin of Captain Stacy (Denis Leary) of the NYPD — Gwen’s father — who considers Spider-Man a criminal

All superhero stories demand a central villain, and ‘Amazing’ is no different. Rhys Ifans is an intriguing villain as the maimed, messianic scientist Curt Connors, who becomes the Lizard

The supporting cast is outstanding. Sheen’s Uncle Ben is unceasingly decent, of course. Ifans always brings a hint of craziness to his characters, a trait he gets to exercise more and more in this film as time goes on. Stone brings something more to the role of Gwen than just standard-issue superhero girlfriend; her Gwen is smart and independent

But  (Brit) Garfield is the essential ingredient here. Though his Peter clearly longs for his absent father, the sheer joy that the discovery of his new powers brings him is infectious; it’s something both Garfield and Webb revel in. Peter’s goofy flirtations with Gwen are entertaining; his later, more-mature encounters with her come off as genuine (as they should - the pair became a couple during the making of the film). He’s just a really good actor

And then there are the special effects. As much fun as the original Spider-Man was a decade ago, even then the computer graphics were only so-so; scenes of the superhero swinging through Manhattan’s steel canyons looked slightly cartoonish. By now, though, the technology has finally caught up with our imaginations; this Spider-Man swings

So was another version of the story — particularly one that clings so closely to the one previously told, especially at the beginning — really necessary? Of course not. But watching Garfield swinging through New York or toying with criminals after he captures them is reason enough to welcome another telling of the tale.

Why make another Spider-Man? Why not? Just enjoy it

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