Directed by Marc Webb
Written by James Vanderbilt, Alvin Sargent and Steve Kloves, based on the comic book by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko
Starring: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifan, Sally Field, Denis Leary, Martin Sheen

Strange days when a hiatus of only a few years makes it necessary to reboot and remake a franchise, but technology has moved forward and a new bunch of kids are in the seats this summer. Those kids want to start fresh, no doubt, with the new paint set Hollywood can now offer. Although I liked Tobey Maguire as Peter Parker in the original series—he was convincing as a smart, good-hearted kid—Andrew Garfield is more athletic in the part-although God knows it is hard to tell where the technology leaves off and the actor begins. He also plays Parker as edgier, a trifle dangerous even. The addition of 3-D also makes things a lot more fun. The scenes where Spiderman learns how to use his gifts were well done—it seemed like how a boy who’d been bullied would react.

PLOT: The film takes its time in giving you a more fully-fleshed out back story. Peter Parker’s parents disappeared when he was a small boy and he lives with his aunt (Field) and uncle (Sheen). As he explores his parents’ disappearance, he meets up with poisonous spiders, his Dad’s armless research partner (Ifan) in his laboratory in Manhattan, and a love interest, Gwen( Stone). A spider bite turns Parker into Spider-Man (why the hyphen, folks?) and he is able to save the people of New York from Ifan’s mad romp through the city as a gigantic reptile. The use of cell phones in this movie was more clever than in most recent films.

You know the plot so I won’t linger on it. I liked a lot about this movie. Garfield and Stone (a couple in real life) had great chemistry and their scenes were more believable than the ones between Maguire and Dunst. This was a beautifully made film that got mostly good performances from the actors, thrust into the non-stop action of the second half. How can you compete with rampaging reptiles and the like?

On the downside, I am getting awfully tired of New York being portrayed as the City on the Hill however; 9-11 seems to have kicked its status as an exceptional city up a few notches. I truly believe Chicago, Boston or Denver’s firemen and cops would have worked just as hard to aid Peter Parker in defeating the enemy. The scenes at Peter Parker’s home seemed to be from a movie made in the fifties and both actors (Field and Sheen) were made to look frumpy. Is this how Hollywood sees the rest of us, living in some time warp with no hairdresser or clothing store in sight? Dennis Leary, as the police chief, is still playing Tommy Gavin from RESCUE ME and perhaps always will.

All in all, a good film—although not as good as THE AVENGERS, which has a sense of humor about itself whereas this one was deadly earnest. But that’s our Spidey.

I can almost guarantee that if you think you will like this movie, you will. And vice-versa.

Be sure to stop by to check out Forgotten Books every Friday as well as other thoughts, comments and reviews. A collection of her stories, Monkey Justice (Snubnose Press) can be found on Amazon