Picture from The Amazing Spider-Man
Overall B-

The story of Peter Parker comes to the big screen once again, this time with Andrew Garfield playing the boy who secretly protects humanity as the Amazing Spider-Man. In this script a desire to uncover what happened to his parents puts the super-powered orphan into grave danger.

Violence D+
Sexual Content B
Profanity B-
Substance Use B+

The Amazing Spider-Man

As if high school wasn’t tough enough already, Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) has just been bitten—by the love bug and by a genetically enhanced spider.

Dealing with the love bug may be normal for high school students (played in this film by some actors who are pushing 30), but the spider is quite another matter. After stumbling upon several sheets of handwritten notes belonging to his deceased father, Peter tracks down his dad’s former scientific partner, Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans) at his research company. It is in his lab that the awkward science student is stung by an eight-legged arachnid. While this event results in Peter acquiring extraordinary strength and heightened sensory ability, confidence isn’t part of the package. He still stammers and sweats whenever he attempts to talk to fellow student Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone).

Considering it’s been just a scant five years since the theatrical release of the final film of the Toby Maguire adaptations, it seems rather early to be rebooting the comic book series with another actor donning the red and blue bodysuit—especially when the script covers pretty much the same ground as Maguire’s Spider-Man. This version does offer a brief glimpse of Peter’s parents (Campbell Scott, Embeth Davidtz) when they drop him off at the home of his Uncle Ben and Aunt May (Martin Sheen, Sally Field) on a dark and stormy night. But beyond that the story details differ in only minor ways.

Garfield’s Spidey has more human foibles and his vulnerability becomes an issue. Driven by his guilt over his uncle’s death, the young man seeks revenge on every longhaired crook he comes across. Yet he doesn’t always fare well, often coming home from these encounters with bruises and bloody lacerations.

Bullets fly fast and frequently in this film as well, with at least one character dying from his gory injuries. Another character, frozen with a dousing of liquid nitrogen, has several appendages shot off. Characters are impaled, thrown through walls, and beaten repeatedly. And a young boy is caught in a car engulfed in flames.

While Peter Parker’s life is a far cry from that of billionaire Bruce Wayne who reappears in this summer’s movie The Dark Knight Rises, his man-of-the-streets persona may make him more accessible to audiences than Batman. (With no place to store a cell phone in that form fitting sheath, he is even reduced to using one of the few remaining pay phones in the city. Who knows where he kept his coins?) This hero’s human limitations also motivate fellow New Yorkers to do their part to stop a gigantic lizard that is attacking the city. Though the community cooperation might be commendable, parents will want to listen to their spidey senses before taking young viewers to see this black-and-blue superhero in action.

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