It seems the summer blockbuster season this year isn’t turning out all that badly after all, with the quality of major films already a lot better than last year’s crop.
A case in point is The Amazing Spider-Man. Although it has started slipping from its initial number one box-office position, it still deservedly commands a healthy audience worldwide.
This is a somewhat different retelling of the same saga as its franchise predecessors. Peter Parker is played by Andrew Garfield (seen in 2010’s The Social Network) and, under director Marc Webb (2009’s 500 Days of Summer), he’s less stereotyped than in previous efforts.
The Amazing Spider-Man updates the technology whereby its hero acquires his superpowers, rendering him the victim of a genetically-modified spider’s bite while he’s snooping around the testing laboratory of the OsCorp corporation on a high school field trip.
The backstory here has also been modified somewhat.
While previous efforts largely glossed over his home life and family origins, The Amazing Spider-Man spends a lot of time on the tragic history of Peter’s father, Richard Parker.
The father’s fate—he was killed in a plane crash with his wife while on a trip for the very company which his son is now scoping out—forms a significant backdrop to the story.
As always, there’s a villain, and there’s a love interest.
The nasty in the piece is a respectable enough gentleman, Dr. Curt Connors, a contemporary of Peter’s father at OsCorp.
Connors, played by Welsh-born Rhys Ifans, most recently seen in this year’s The Five-Year Engagement, knows a lot more than he lets on about his dead colleague.
He has one arm missing, and has been secretly experimenting with a lab lizard, in the hopes that the creature’s limb-regeneration capacity will be transferable and result in the regrowth of his arm.
His experiments succeed all too well, and with disastrous results, which brings on the film’s archvillain.
The object of Peter’s affections is Gwen Stacy, played by Emma Stone (The Help, Friends With Benefits).
Stone is photogenic enough, but really doesn’t have that much to do, as Peter busies himself with acquiring familiarity with his newly-acquired superpowers, designing his costume, and arguing with his Uncle Ben, played by Martin Sheen, most recently seen locally in 2010’s The Way.
Like The Avengers before it, The Amazing Spider-Man spends a lot of time humanizing the heroic element, and the time spent on the effort is well worth it.
The main 3D action and effects have been wisely saved until the film’s climactic moments, as Spiderman braves dizzying heights swinging from skyscraper to skyscraper.
As is usual with many action-hero opuses, our hero’s efforts at aiding the local authorities are not especially appreciated, and he’s touted as a menace to the safety of the populace.
His girlfriend’s father turns out to be the chief of the New York Police Department, and doesn’t take too kindly to Peter when he timidly voices his support for Spiderman.
All told, it’s a decent effort, and hopefully is a good portent for the next blockbuster to hit local screens, the return of Batman in The Dark Knight Rises.
The Amazing Spider-Man plays at 6:50 and 9:30 p.m., with daily matinees at 3 p.m., at the Yukon Theatre.
It is rated PG.
Brian Eaton is a cinema buff who reviews current films and writes on other film-related topics on a regular basis.