Superhero Spider-Man (Andrew Garfield) grabs hold of love interest Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) in a moment of danger in “The Amazing Spider-Man.” The movie is a retelling of the origins of Marvel Comics character with new elements.

Sony Pictures Entertainment/Courtesy

Superhero Spider-Man (Andrew Garfield) grabs hold of love interest Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) in a moment of danger in “The Amazing Spider-Man.” The movie is a retelling of the origins of Marvel Comics character with new elements.

At the Movies: ‘Spider-Man’ reboot spins a fresh web

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Andy Bockelman is a member of the Denver Film Critics Society, and his movie reviews appear in Explore Steamboat and the Craig Daily Press.

“The Amazing Spider-Man”

3 out of 4 stars

136 minutes

Starring: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans and Denis Leary.

Now playing at West Theatre in Craig and Carmike Chief Plaza 4 in Steamboat Springs.

Some movie franchises can go for years without any new additions and still be received warmly by fans when a new entry is released.

Considering it comes from a trilogy that has barely had any time to collect cobwebs while sitting on the shelf, “The Amazing Spider-Man” brings new life to a character who’s been around for much longer than we’ve seen him onscreen.

Teenager Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) is still finding his way in life. Between losing his parents (Campbell Scott, Embeth Davidtz) at a young age and having few friends, he's in need of a ray of sunshine, one which his Uncle Ben and Aunt May (Martin Sheen, Sally Field) have been unable to provide for all their effort.

Peter may have found what he’s been looking for all along when he discovers a satchel belonging to his father containing some intriguing scientific documents. His search for their meaning leads him to his dad’s former partner, Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans), a biologist nearing a breakthrough in DNA research.

Among the experiments in Connors’ lab is one involving irradiated spiders, and through happenstance, Peter receives a bite from one of the arachnids. Though he doesn’t think much of it at first, he can’t ignore some of the changes happening with his body — things like hyper-tuned reflexes, freakish strength and a sudden adherence to everything he touches.

As he hones his newfound abilities to both embarrass his high school tormentor (Chris Zylka) and woo longtime crush Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone), the teen still can’t fix all his problems, with his uncle suffering a fatal encounter with a mugger as an indirect result of Peter’s actions.

Grief-stricken and angry, the young man goes on the warpath to find the man responsible, becoming the terror of the criminal underworld and the scourge of the police, who believe the vigilante of the streets known as Spider-Man can’t be trusted. But, when a new threat rears its ugly head, Peter will have to put his spider-powers to the ultimate test to stop something much closer to him than he knows.

Stepping into the red and blue suit popularized by Tobey Maguire, Garfield brings a new take to the young man endowed with a sudden surge of might, bringing out not only Spidey’s inner comedian but also the cornucopia of emotions that is Peter Parker, a kid who has been a whipping boy for far too long but hasn’t given up hope.

Nothing like a dose of super-strength to make you think life could turn out in your favor.

Stone’s “girl next door” charm is put to good use as Gwen, whom comic lovers know to be Peter’s first true love, as opposed to Mary Jane Watson. The bubbly blonde is also less prone to finding herself in peril, capable of getting herself out of a jam much easier than MJ ever could, though still having trouble reconciling her new boyfriend and her police captain father (Denis Leary).

Sheen never gets the chance to say the famous line, “With great power comes great responsibility,” but he does get to rattle off plenty of similar bits of paternal wisdom as Uncle Ben, while Field’s Aunt May is relegated to dealing with a sullen teen who refuses to communicate about his late night escapades.

Ifans is rather understated as well, as the one-armed Connors, whose fervor to grow back his missing limb by combining reptile genes with that of humans leads to the expected disastrous outcome as he takes herpetology one step too far and morphs into a mini-Godzilla.

Golly, a mad scientist run amok. That’s certainly a new feature for the web-slinger.

Though he’s rendered by some good-looking CGI, the overall simplicity of The Lizard and his brutish ways is quite the improvement over our last adventure. Somehow, a creature that lurks in the sewers manages to be more visually appealing than the swirling mass of molecules, Sandman, and Spider-Man’s nemesis Venom swaddled in black goo.

While the look of the villain is just right, director Marc Webb — whose hiring had to have something to do with the irresistible pun of his last name — falters with some other elements of the camera, such as segments on the rooftops taken from Peter’s point of view.

Isn’t watching someone whip around so fast dizzying enough without the added sensation that we’re actually in their head? Especially when you see it in 3-D…

This camerawork is much more forgiving when we get a third-person look at everything, though Sam Raimi’s fast-paced swings through Manhattan still remain superior.

Where this version finds its strengths is in slower, more nuanced storytelling that gives us a better sense of who the youthful superhero is and why he makes the choices he does.

Raimi’s “Spider-Man” films were quick to classify all the people involved in Peter Parker’s life as friend or foe, while Webb’s cast of characters, including Peter himself, aren’t as easy to label.

Likewise, reinventing a whole backstory for him is something that could play out to be very good or very bad, but we’ll learn more about that down the line.

“The Amazing Spider-Man” runs right about in the middle of the Marvel Comics canon. Though it consistently outdoes the weaker moments of the original “Spider-Man” movies, it never quite hits the same highs.

We’ll have to see how things turn out for the Webhead in any future installments, but for now, we’ll gladly stick with him.

Now playing at West Theatre in Craig and Carmike Chief Plaza 4 in Steamboat Springs.

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