The Amazing Spider-Man: A Comic-Book Movie That Deserves to Be a Hit

Spider-Man's story is some primal-ass teenage wish fulfillment: nerds beating jocks, astonishing old people, romancing hot girls, dangling criminals from rooftops, fighting awesome monsters, and for God's sake, people, we're not made of stone here. The Amazing Spider-Man, an inexcusably good reboot-thing from director Marc Webb, celebrates the heartwarming arachno-genetic bar mitzvah in which a boy becomes a spider and a spider becomes a man. Boy genius Peter Parker, played charmingly by Chia-haired Andrew Garfield, tours the Oscorp lab of Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans), a kindly, non-mad scientist recklessly tampering with the fundamental forces of nature, as one does. Dr. Connors' facility includes a sealed room full of genetically altered spiders into which Peter sneaks while everyone else is distracted by unlikely Hollywood computer interfaces. Reader, the spider bites him. Credit Sony with making an unconventional choice in Webb, whose great (500) Days of Summer was not an obvious debut for the director of a high-profile, big-budget action film. It's all sharp of wit and sweetly sentimental for lots of reasons, including Martin Sheen and Sally Field as Peter's Uncle Ben and Aunt May and a peroxide-haired, superbad Emma Stone as a gently ironic Gwen Stacy, Peter Parker's first girlfriend. A bit—how do you say—boring in the comics, Gwen is retrofitted here with personality and independence, a damsel in only moderate distress. Denis Leary, as Captain Stacy, father of Gwen, evinces his signature growly sarcasm and hits unexpectedly sweet notes of paternal affection.

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