The term “summer movie” used to mean you would see a lot of action-adventure movies with a hero to root for. Now it just means the movie is being released in the summer. Of course, that is the “economic summer,” which runs from Memorial Day to Labor Day despite the temperature.
Being well into the “economic summer,” it’s time for another superhero film to emerge from the studios. “The Amazing Spider-Man” is coming to a theater near you. This latest film is a reboot of the franchise, which means a whole new look at how Spidey became the man with the web shooters.
This version starts when Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) is a young boy and an intruder breaks into his home. His father, Richard, has important research and knows someone wants it. Mom and Dad take Peter to stay with Aunt May (Sally Field) and Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) for a while, but his parents never return.
Years later, Peter is now a very smart high school student. He finds his dad’s research and realizes he needs to go to the Oscorp labs to talk to his father’s old partner, Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans). While sneaking around at Oscorp, Peter is bitten by the radioactive spider that gives him all his powers. Throughout the rest of the film, he is trying to learn about those powers and how he will use them.
Most everyone knows the origin story of Spider-Man, so the movie’s main plot is not really much of a secret. Unfortunately, the filmmakers here decided to make it a little different than the traditional origin story. The first different point is that Peter's father made the spider that infected him. Also, there is no wrestling in this story, just an accidental fall into a wrestling ring to pay tribute to that part of the story. There is more but too much to include here. Let’s just say, if you are a purist about origin stories, there could be a problem.
There are also elements that purists may feel helped the film. Spider-Man does use his sarcastic humor while fighting the bad guys, but he could have done it more. The creative team went back to the high school version of Spider-Man to start this new set of movies. That also meant going back to Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone), the original Spider-Man girlfriend. Emma Stone makes for a very good Gwen Stacy. Plus, Peter makes his own web shooters in this version.
The filmmakers did do a good job with the action. They filmed some swinging scenes from Spider-Man’s point of view which make it feel like you’re traveling with him. Also the arc that Peter goes through in this film is nice to follow. It is presented with some subtle teenage angst and not overly dramatized.
Obviously, this is a comic book-based story, so there is violence. There are characters that die and you will see a lot of destruction when Spider-Man and the villain are fighting. Some SWAT team members must face chemical weapons, and there is some shooting of characters. Aunt May and Uncle Ben speculate that Peter is using drugs. Gwen does wear some short skirts and Peter is seen with his shirt off while they kiss. You will see Dr. Connors change into his lizard form, which may be a little disturbing for some. All of this adds up to the PG-13 rating.
Despite the changes to the original Spider-Man story, this film is fun to watch and has some great action sequences. It is an interesting take on a story that is treasured by so many and treasured for good reason. Peter Parker is the ultimate geek fantasy. He was a geek who became a hero. We all would like to do that sometime in our lives.
Shawn O'Neill is the Family Man Movie Reviewer on BYU Radio. His reviews can be heard on BYURadio.org and on SiriusXM Channel 143.