"The Amazing Spider-Man"


I have written movie reviews at EthicsDaily.com long enough that I've now reviewed a movie that's a reboot of what I consider a recent movie.

In 2002, Sam Raimi brought the story of Peter Parker to the screen. I say Peter Parker because the story of Spider-Man is always the story of Peter Parker, not Spider-Man.

Now Columbia Pictures restarts the franchise with "The Amazing Spider-Man."


In this new story we are introduced to Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield), and when we first see Peter, he is a boy.

His parents (Campbell Scott and Embeth Davidtz) take him to live with his Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) and Aunt May (Sally Field). Then his parents disappear.

Peter becomes a teenager. He is a nerdy guy that rides a skateboard and takes pictures at school. He is picked on and bullied. Peter is a nobody.

But Peter has eyes for Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone), a popular girl on campus who has an internship at Oscorp, a large corporation in Manhattan.

Peter learns that his parents had a tie to Oscorp and Dr. Curtis Connors (Rhys Ifans).

Dr. Connors is working on interspecies genetic research. His goal is to use abilities of other species to help human defects. He has a vested interest in this because he has lost an arm.

Peter finds an old briefcase owned by his father and in it finds a file containing information connected to Dr. Connors' research.

Peter snoops his way into Oscorp and finds himself in a research area that works with spiders. It is here that Peter gets bitten and the powers of Spider-Man come to him.

What follows is Peter learning to use his powers and developing the things needed to aid their use.

All this becomes even more important to him after a loved one is killed by a robber of a convenience store. Peter begins his search to find the killer – his first act as Spider-Man.

Peter also gives the information in the file to Dr. Connors, who was working with Peter's father on the same project.

The formula that Peter provides becomes the key for Dr. Connors to perfect a means of using reptile DNA to regenerate his missing arm.

But there are unforeseen side effects. The formula causes Dr. Connors to become a large, lizard-like creature that begins to terrorize Manhattan.

My summation of the story to this point leaves out a large part of the plot: Peter and Gwen fall madly in love. And this is one of the strong points of the movie.

Garfield and Stone have real, romantic chemistry. It's both strong and tender.

In scenes where Peter comes to her after being battered in his fight with evil, Gwen comforts him and tends to his wounds. This is powerful and shows part of what makes this character so enduring.

As mentioned, this story is not about Spider-Man, who happens to be Peter Parker. This is a story about Peter Parker, who happens to be Spider-Man. The comic book series always worked because it was an Everyman soap opera.

"The Amazing Spider-Man" is good because director Marc Webb and his writers understand this. Spider-Man, as a character, should always be about poor Peter Parker.

Readers or viewers can't identify with super powers, but they can with a teenager facing tremendous problems.

The movie balances Peter and Gwen's star-crossed love with Peter fighting a large lizard terrorizing the city. That balance has historically been in the comics, and it helps make this movie good.

For parents out there, my sons loved the movie. I thought they would not, for it was heavy on the romance for a while. But the balance won them, and me, over.

Mike Parnell is pastor of Beth Car Baptist Church in Halifax, Va.

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sequences of action and violence.

Director: Marc Webb

Writers: James Vanderbilt and Alvin Sargent and Steve Kloves (based on the comic book series created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko)

Cast: Andrew Garfield: Peter Parker/Spider-Man; Emma Stone: Gwen Stacy; Rhys Ifans: Dr. Curtis Connors/ Lizard; Martin Sheen: Ben Parker; Sally Field: May Parker; Campbell Scott: Richard Parker; Embeth Davidtz: Mary Parker; Dennis Leary: Capt. Stacy.

The movie's website is here.

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Tags: Mike Parnell, Movie Reviews, The Amazing Spider-Man