Blu-ray/DVD Review ‘The Amazing Spider-Man’: Face Front!

First, know this: I’m a Marvel kid. I even bought The Amazing Spider-Man No. 1 off the newsstands when it first arrived in 1962 (having missed Amazing Fantasy No. 15). So I know Spider-Man, and I love Spider-man.

Now, did I love his latest big-screen reboot in The Amazing Spider-Man, new from Columbia on Blu-ray and DVD Friday? (Handsome trailer–with some footage not in the movie–here.)

Well, yes — this is, after all, my childhood hero, here with all the bells and whistles that today’s state of the art effects can provide, and with much improved casting for the title role in Andrew Garfield (The Social Network), in place of the mumbling,  muttering no-show of Tobey Maguire.

In fact, all of the new casting is right-on, from Garfield’s now offscreen girlfriend, Emma Stone, as Peter Parker’s (Spidey’s) stylish onscreen girlfriend, Gwen Stacy, to the gruff and great Denis Leary as her police captain papa, to Welch actor Rhys Ifans as Dr. Curt Connors, soon to become the lab-coated villain who first appeared in The Amazing Spider-Man No. 6, The Lizard.

That’s not to mention superb veteran actors Martin Sheen and Sally Field as Peter’s Uncle Ben and Aunt May.

Heck, there’s even a fun little cameo –inevitable by now — of Spidey co-creator (along with Steve Ditko) Stan Lee, as a school librarian whose headphones and music make him oblivious to a big battle in his midst.

But I do have a quibble, and it’s a rather big one: Why do superhero series (also including Batman) keep having to reboot so quickly? This one does so while changing the story a bit, but it’s still a tale of a boy being orphaned, then a misfit in school, then a  bug-bitten superpowered dude who embraces the responsibility that comes with such power.

For me, retelling that tale slowed the movie too much in the early going, though once it got going, it soared as much as Spidey criss-crossing Manhattan’s concrete canyons with his web-slinging, like Tarzan on super-steroids. In fact, the action throughout is dazzling — and augmented with 17 minutes of expanded and deleted scenes on the new discs.

So in all, I was very pleased with this solid outing in the Spidey film series, and have every reason to be optimistic for the films that follow — at least until the next reboot, when I guess we’ll have to wade through the origin story yet again (remember how long and slow the origin made Warner’s original Superman film?). Of course, it is a great origin, and a great character. So why quibble?

There. I’ve talked myself out of it. I’m on board. I’m a charter member of the MMMS, after all, and I’ve even met Stan Lee. So “Excelsior!’ and all that — and face front! Spidey is back, and Spidey is better.

Sometimes reboots are worth doing.

—  Bruce Westbrook

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