A consistently intelligent (or at least bright), coherently constructed comedy that is on occasion a rather pointed critique of the American education system in the…
We live in an age of speed-up, which may explain why the "Spider-Man" franchise feels the need for a reboot only 10 years after its first film, and five years after the most recent one. In its broad strokes, "The Amazing Spider-Man" is a remake of Sam Raimi's "Spider-Man" (2002), but it's not the broad strokes we care about. This is a more thoughtful film, and its action scenes are easier to follow in space and time. If we didn't really need to be told Spidey's origin story again, at least it's done with more detail and provides better reasons for why Peter Parker throws himself into his superhero role.
Parker is played by Andrew Garfield ("Never Let Me Go"), who at 28 looks too old to be in high school, but then movie teenagers usually do. His key quality is likability, which he shares with his predecessor, Tobey Maguire. Gwen, his classmate and girlfriend (Emma Stone, "The Help"), is a well-grounded female who needs some persuasion to bond with Peter. That's partly because Garfield's take on Spidey is sometimes a few strands short of a web. He's not above showoff stunts in high school and takes chances with his newfound superpowers. This is the first Spider-Man who can leap off a skyscraper and make us wonder if he has a plan in mind.
The origin story takes at least an hour to tell, and I enjoyed that, because it seems to me that CGI superhero films often go on autopilot during their big action climaxes. We learn how Peter lost his parents and came into the care of Aunt May (Sally Field) and Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen, replacing the late Cliff Robertson). Finding his dad's old-fashioned briefcase in the attic, Peter comes across brilliant scientific work about cross-species interbreeding, and that leads him to the Manhattan skyscraper of Oscorp, your typical comic-book mega-corporation with a madman at the top.
The screwball scientist is his dad's old partner, Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans). He has lost his right arm and obsesses about regenerating it by injecting himself with the genes of lizards, which can replace lost limbs (almost instantly, it appears). Connors overdoses on lizard juice and expands into the hyper-violent Lizard, who goes on rampages and knocks cars off bridges with its tail.