The Amazing Spider-Man
Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone
Directed by Marc Webb
To call it pointless wouldn't be unfair. The last Spider-Man movie was only five years ago. Is it possible to forget the trilogy director Sam Raimi built with Tobey Maguire as the webslinger and Kirsten Dunst as his teen love? I don't think so. Aside from the profit motive of brand milking, I don't really see why the Spidey reboot was needed right now, even in 3D. The newbie is basically retelling the Marvel comic book tale of Peter Parker, the high school loner whose life is changed by a spider bite. You know the rest. You really do. That being said, The Amazing Spider-Man has its virtues, chief among them its two stars: Andrew Garfield as Peter, the nerd turned crimefighter, and Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy, the daughter of a police chief (Denis Leary) who can't help being drawn into Peter's web. Garfield, so good in The Social Network and onstage in Death of a Salesman, puts his own stamp on Peter and his drive to solve the mystery of his parents' death. And Stone just jumps to life onscreen. Gwen was played by Stone's The Help costar Bryce Dallas Howard in Spider-Man 3, but her take on the role is distinctly her own. The Amazing Spider-Man delivers in its action and flying scenes as Spidey fights the villain, a.k.a. The Lizard (Rhys Ifans). But that's due diligence. The core of the new movie is the love story. It's no accident that Marc Webb was chosen to direct. Webb is the man behind (500) Days of Summer, the 2009 hit with Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt that is one of the best movie romances of the decade. Webb never loses touch with the film's emotional through line. And he allows time and space for Garfield and Stone, both stellar, to turn a high-flying adventure into something impassioned and moving. A Spider-Man that touches the heart. Now that really is amazing.
•At the Movies With Peter Travers: 'The Amazing Spider-Man Is Fun, But Do We Really Need It?
• Q&A: Emma Stone on Branching Out With 'Spider-Man,' Admiring Woody Allen
• Peter Travers' Summer Preview: 10 Must-See Movies
star ratingFox Searchlight Pictures
star ratingMagnet Releasing
star ratingUniversal Pictures
star ratingWarner Bros. Pictures
star ratingWarner Bros.
star ratingWalt Disney Studios Motion Pictures