New Spidey better than recent trilogy

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Hollywood: Maguire and Dunst absent from latest movie

By Mike Cote

For those who believe that Hollywood is out of ideas, that belief was no doubt steel-belt reinforced by the July 4 release of “The Amazing Spider-Man.”
I certainly questioned the wisdom of doing a reboot of a franchise that was only five years removed from a successful incarnation with Sam Raimi’s trilogy.
In fact, it’s rumored that Raimi, who directed all three films, inadvertently caused the reboot by refusing to do a fourth Spider-Man film — it’s also believed that the star of those films, Tobey Maguire, wasn’t interested, either.
Marvel Comics and Columbia were both bent on making another Spider-Man movie (according to IMDB.com, Raimi’s trio grossed approximately $1.8 billion worldwide, a figure that’s tough to argue with).
So, instead of another installment of Maguire and Kirsten Dunst as Mary Jane, Columbia and appropriately-named director Marc Webb, went with Andrew Garfield to fill the role your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man.
As of last weekend, this film has already cleared the $200 million mark domestically, not a bad haul, especially considering it debuted just a little more than two weeks before “The Dark Knight Rises.”
Garfield’s Peter Parker is a harder-edged, more angsty teenager than was Maguire’s, which brings a little more depth to the character but also makes him a little less likeable.
One of the big differences between this incarnation and the previous films is that we see and learn something about Parker’s parents, who left him with Uncle Ben and Aunt May so they could skip town, something that appears will be central to the plot in this film’s sequel.
Parker’s love interest in this movie is Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone), who is the daughter of the New York City chief of police (Denis Leary). This becomes an issue for Parker, whom New York’s finest considers a vigilante.
Spider-Man battles Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans), a brilliant scientist who works in bioengineering at Oscorp and, while experimenting on altering human DNA, turns into The Lizard, which Spidey tears up NYC in battle against.
I can’t honestly say I was expecting much with “Spider-Man” — I went solely because my son wanted to go to the movies and it was either that or “Ice Age 4,” which I refuse to see.
However, this movie was actually considerably better and (slightly) more complex than I was anticipating. I thought it was going to be essentially a mash-up of the best of the Sam Raimi films, but Peter’s back-story and the little post-movie snippet of what’s to come, something that’s become a staple of Marvel Comics’ movies, is good enough to make me want to see what’s going to happen next.
However, the Spider-Man franchise has several inherent weaknesses in it, but for movie fans, the most worrisome might be that it doesn’t have a lot of villains the non-comic book collecting public would recognize — Batman, by contrast, has several villains that most people could name — and therefore, there’s a pretty good chance we’re going to see a good deal of repetition from the previous Spidey films.

If you go:

“The Amazing Spider-Man”
Starring Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Sally Field and Martin Sheen
Rated PG-13
Running time: 2 hours, 18 minutes
Playing at the Reel Deal Theater and Dreamcatcher Cinema