PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

July 6, 2012

Spidey swings again

Sean McBride
The Port Arthur News

— Spider-Man is one of the most profitable, er, beloved fictional characters out there, so it makes sense that Marvel Comics might want to re-boot the movie franchise a mere five years after that last cinematic Spider-Man fizzled at the box office. The result is a pretty good summer popcorn flick, although the new leading man, Andrew Garfield is already pushing thirty years of age, so we may need another re-boot film five years down the road.

“The Amazing Spider-Man” is one of those superhero origin stories. I don’t think that there’s anybody out there who doesn’t know by now that Peter Parker (Garfield) was bitten by an irradiated spider. Parker gets some of the super-spider’s DNA, which gives him the ability to climb walls and swing through the Manhattan skyline on ropes of sticky spider-string. It’s interesting that Peter doesn’t produce the Spidey-silk himself. He gets it (steals it?) from Oscorp, the giant bio-chemical research facility where his father’s former partner, Dr. Connors (Rhys Ifans) is obsessively working on a serum that will help him re-grow a missing arm.

The serum works, but it also turns the mad doctor into an aggressive walking lizard determined to kill Spider-Man. Denis Leary plays the New York City police chief who’s hunting both the Lizard creature and Spider-Man. Coincidence of coincidences, Peter falls in love with the police chief’s daughter (Emma Stone) who also just happens to be a research assistant to Dr. Connors.

Boy, is that New York City a small town or what?

There are a few new touches to this origin story. I liked the fact that Peter is pretty cocky with his newfound Spidey powers, even getting expelled from school when he humiliates a school bully. There’s also some nice teaser material that hints at what might have happened to Peter’s parents so many years ago. An end credit add-on scene hints that this will be explored more fully in upcoming “Spider-Man” sequels.

Ultimately “The Amazing Spider-Man” works because the special effects are quite impressive. Spidey flies effortlessly through the canyons of New York City, much to the delight of the wide-eyed boy grinning up at the screen in the seat next to me. I appreciated some of the film’s humorous touches and the fact that Garfield makes for a plausible teenager-turned-superhero. Well, he’s plausible, acting-wise. Like most cinematic high school students, he looks far too old to still be roaming the halls of his school.

Never mind that, the special effects carry the day and “The Amazing Spider-Man” will thrill the kiddies as well as provide an air conditioned escape from the summer heat. I still don’t think that the movie franchise needed a re-boot, but at least the movie turned out to be a lot of fun to watch.

Movie reviews by Sean, “The Movie Guy,” are published bi-weekly in “The Port Arthur News” and seen weekly on KFDM-TV and KBOI 2-TV. Sean welcomes your comments via email at smcbride@kboi2.com.