The Amazing Spider-Man [2012]

Directed by: Marc Webb
Written by: James Vanderbilt, Alvin Sargent, Steve Kloves
Cast: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Martin Sheen, Sally Field, Rhys Ifans, Dennis Leary, Irrfan Khan

Only ten years after Tobey Maguire first donned the red-and-blue suit and five after Sam Raimi angered critics and fans with emo Spider-Man, we get this: a darker reboot with a younger Peter Parker, no Mary Jane and a director with indie cred at the helm. The question on everybody’s minds, lips and social network profiles has been the same since the project was announced two years ago: is it necessary? The answer is a rotund “no”.  But the end result is so good you really won’t care.

In a genre full of appetizers, The Amazing Spider-Man is the rare entrée, a fun and giddily satisfying mélange of drama, comedy, action and romance, four genres that Marc Webb and writers Vanderbilt, Sargent and Kloves weave (no pun intended) so well. For me, this was a Marvel palate cleanser after the big-budget Avengers left a bad taste in my mouth (Loki awesomeness aside).

A summer blockbuster stripped of any pretense, this one won me over with its geeky charm and organic, unintrusive humor. Something we rarely get to see in this type of film, and one of the few things The Avengers got absolutely right (so you know I don’t hate everything about it) is a great cast. I’ve got nothing against Tobey Maguire, but Andrew Garfield will make you forget all about him with his cocky yet vulnerable Parker. Emma Stone’s impeccable comedic timing and wide-eyed beauty blow Bryce Dallas Howard out of the water; she and Garfield are one of the best on-screen couples in recent years. And speaking of couples, Sheen and Field are impossibly endearing as Peter’s uncle Ben and Aunt May. The clever editing and the impressive score by James Horner are the cherry on top.

If we’re still with the gastronomic analogies, then “The Lizard” is the side dish of, let’s say, potatoes with too much cheese. Dr. Curtis Connors is an interesting enough character and Rhys Ifans plays him ably but, when metamorphosis kicks in, we can’t take him seriously anymore. The scenes with this badly-drawn baddie weigh this otherwise buoyant movie down. Still, the spotlight is not on the reptilian villain but on the arachnid hero, and he delivers.