By Robert Horton Herald Movie Critic
Hey, great idea — how’d they ever think of making a movie from the “Spider-Man” comics? Somebody should have done this a long time ago: Can’t you just imagine a superhero flying through the city and swinging from building to building?
I know you can. I just thought I’d try the counterintuitive lead paragraph, since almost everybody in the country is wondering: Are we really seeing another Spider-Man movie already?
The trilogy of Spidey films starring Tobey Maguire and directed by Sam Raimi between 2002 and 2007 are still fresh in audience’s minds, but that didn’t stop Sony and Marvel Comics from deciding that the brand name needed to stay out there.
And so, here’s “The Amazing Spider-Man,” which reboots (oh, that word) the saga, and even provides an alternate “origin story” for our hero. Once again, meet teenager Peter Parker, played this time by Andrew Garfield, a misfit brainiac raised by his uncle and aunt (Martin Sheen and Sally Field) after his parents die.
Peter’s adventure, which obviously includes being bitten by a bioengineered spider and acquiring incredible powers, takes him in the direction of his father’s former science partner, Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans). And Connors is up to something that will tie all this together in one big — well, web, you might say.
There’s the love interest part, too. Setting aside the previous movie’s love story as an alternate reality, here Peter goes in a big way for one Gwen Stacy (“The Help” star Emma Stone, unfortunately blond here) classmate and fellow science nerd.
Any “Spider-Man” sequel already has a strong sense of deja vu, but this one is bizarrely familiar. The main sources of interest are, I suppose, comparisons of the basics.
So, how’s the new guy? Andrew Garfield looks better-fed here than he did in “The Social Network” and “Never Let Me Go,” but he really plays up the geek factor. In some scenes he seems to be channeling the young Anthony Perkins, all twitches and anti-social gawkiness. Gwen finds this irresistible, needless to say.
It’s not that the movie he swings through, directed by Marc Webb (“(500) Days of Summer”), is awful, or boring. Well, it might be sort of boring, if your memory of the 2002 origin story is still relatively fresh.
Everything is well-managed, a few good lines pop (although Raimi’s sense of humor was stronger), and the action is the sort of swooping spectacle ready-made for 3-D and Blu-ray. The kickiness, the oddness, of Raimi’s trilogy has been smoothed over, as though everybody woke up to the thought that a billion-dollar franchise needs to be more professional and less quirky — in a word, safer.
I suppose the movie will make a mint. We might have to sit through two more of these to fill out the trilogy box set, but Sony and Marvel shouldn’t wait. Somebody should be looking for “a young Andrew Garfield” right now for leading-man duties in 2022’s “Spider-Man Rises.”
“The Amazing Spider-Man” (2½ stars)
Although it seems like they just did an “origin story” for the character, here’s another version of how teen Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) acquired superpowers. There’s a love interest (Emma Stone) and a villain (Rhys Ifans) and it all seems like deja vu, however competently handled — and it is competent, in a bland sort of way.
Rated: PG-13 for violence.
Showing: Alderwood Mall, Cinebarre, Everett Stadium, Galaxy Monroe, Marysville, Olympic, Stanwood, Meridian, Thornton Place, Woodinville, Cascade Mall.