With the power of making the reboot of the Spider-Man film franchise comes great responsibility. And the makers of "The Amazing Spider-Man" deliver.
Director Marc Webb and screen writers James Vanderbilt, Alvin Sargent and Steve Kloves found a way to spin the story of the comic book hero with enough originality to appease fans while not straying too far from the well-known Spidey mythology created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko a half-century ago.
While there are some variations on the Spider-Man themes, this isn't a completely different story. Everything from Uncle Ben's (Martin Sheen) demise to the origin of the Spidey suit is there -- just delivered with a slightly different approach.
The biggest change is the shift in Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) being in love with Mary Jane Watson to the new love interest of Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone). In the comic books, the Parker-Stacy connection comes later. But it means the always impressive Stone is in the movie, so the love leap is OK.
Garfield portrays Peter Parker well. He brings a nerdy goofiness that makes Parker more enjoyable out of the crime-fighting suit. He's far more emotional and that makes him easy to connect with.
Visually, the movie has the same explosive special effects that made the other three "Spider-Man" movies so spectacular. But here the effects are amped up by point-of-view sequences that are so realistic it could cause vertigo for some moviegoers. The battle scenes -- this time between Spidey and the Lizard (Rhys Ifans) -- are faster, more brutal and very impressive.
It's nice to see Spider-Man can bruise and bleed, despite his increased strength.
Webb's decision to stay away from the always caustic J. Jonah Jameson character and let Gwen's father (Denis Leary) be Spidey's greatest detractor works better. The Jameson rants have been replaced by very civil, and logical, debates about the place Spider-Man has in the law enforcement world.
Leary also brings a touch of humor to the film and creates some emotional rest stops between all of the teen angst and super battles.
The film has a few bugs. Spider-Man purists will have to deal with the adjustments made to the character history, especially the spider bite not being as random as before. And, there's a key story element never resolved, and it's not a plot point that's necessary for a sequel. Otherwise, this reboot of Spider-Man is amazing.
"The Amazing Spider-Man," rated PG-13 for action scenes. Stars Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Martin Sheen, Sally Field, Emma Stone, Denis Leary, Rhys Ifans. Directed by Marc Webb. Running time: 2 hours, 16 minutes. Grade: A- Theaters and times for this movie | Other movie reviews
TV and movie criticRick Bentley can be reached at (559) 441-6355, firstname.lastname@example.org or @RickBentley1 on Twitter. Read his blog at fresnobeehive.com.