Typically a franchise reboot takes years, if not decades of studio hand-wringing, failed screenplays, and casting speculation.
Not so with Spider-Man, which proves that in the high-speed, Internet age there’s no such thing as “too soon.”
In fact, the entire Spider-Man franchise debuted with much success ran out of creative steam over the course of three movies, and has now unveiled a new film with an entirely different cast and crew to basically retell the same story all over again — all in the same amount of time that passed between “Men in Black” sequels.
But even though the Spider-Man franchise lifecycle moves at a speed that would impress fruit flies, at least quality hasn’t been sacrificed in the name of expediency.
“The Amazing Spider-Man” is a very, very good superhero movie and even though it has only been 10 short years since we first saw nerdy high-school student Peter Parker transformed with the powers of strength, dexterity, and wall-adhesiveness thanks to a bite from a genetically enhanced spider, this new movie actually manages to soar overall it’s been-there, done-that baggage.
I’ll even go as far as to say “The Amazing Spider-Man” is a stronger movie than any of the Tobey Maguire-as-star, Sam Rami-as-director “Spider-Man” films, which it almost had to be if it had any chance of escaping from the imposing shadow of the original trilogy.
This time around Peter gets a deeper back-story as we learn his parents’ untimely deaths may have been related to his father’s scientific work.
Peter is played by Andrew Garfield (“The Social Network”), a very naturalistic actor who manages the trick of being simultaneously complex and unassuming.
The object of Peter’s affection is no longer the red-headed Mary Jane Watson but is instead the brilliant and blonde Gwen Stacey, played by the ever-adorable Emma Stone.
Peter’s guardians, Uncle Ben and Aunt May, get a significant upgrade in the venerable actor department with Martin Sheen and Sally Field taking over the parts.
Because mastering wicked-cool superpowers while navigating the awkward social structure of the high school isn’t enough of a challenge for Spider-Man, a big, bad super-villain is needed to wreak all kinds of havoc. Enter Dr. Curt Conners (Rhys Ifans), a former colleague of Peter’s father, whose work on cross-species genetics transforms him into a giant, destructive lizard.
Complicating Peter’s life even further is the fact that the police captain (Denis Leary) sworn to bring Spider-Man to justice for his vigilante ways, just happens to be Gwen’s father.
The biggest change to the Spider-Man franchise actually comes behind the camera where the conveniently named Marc Webb takes over for Rami.
I’ll always be a fan of Rami and his manic style, which perfectly translated comic-book sensibilities to the big screen, but Webb’s more humanistic touch injects a lot more heart into the proceedings.
Webb was a bold choice to direct. His only other feature gig was helming the winning romantic comedy “(500) Days of Summer.” While we knew the guy knew how to make the camera fall in love with a leading lady (Zooey Deschanel: check, Emma Stone: check), nobody knew if he could handle a special effects-laden, action spectacular.
Have no fear. Webb has delivered a visually spectacular romp that is actually worthy of seeing in 3D. The scenes of Spidey swinging through Manhattan are as close as you’ll ever get to soaring between skyscrapers attached only to super-strong, spider-web filament.
While there is no doubt “The Amazing Spider-Man” will bring about unshakable feelings of déjà vu, there is enough fresh and new here to make you feel like you’ve been bitten for the very first time.
“The Amazing Spider-Man” is rated PG-13 for sequences of action and violence.