(Familiar tale told well)
Most of us grew up with Spider-Man and know the back story: Peter Parker was raised by his aunt and uncle and was responsible for his uncle's death. He was bitten by a spider, which gave him amazing powers.
The two-and-a-quarter-hour movie gives us the story again, but this time it is told with a greater passion, making us sympathize and like Parker. We meet him as a bullied high school student, a bit of a nerd who has a passion for science.
Andrew Garfield makes an ideal title character, making us feel his pain and all of his emotions as he battles with guilt, compassion, anger and love.
One big difference in the story is his love interest. Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) shows compassion for the picked-on Parker. That compassion slowly turns into stronger feelings, complicated by the fact that she works for one of his adversaries and her father (Denis Leary) happens to be the police chief. A bit of a plot stretch there, but it sets up the fast-paced action that follows.
Peter is trying to find out why his parents disappear, leading him to Oscorp, the scientific laboratory run by Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans). It is here that Peter learns about genetic engineering and cross-species genetics.
While snooping around the lab, he is bitten by a spider, taking on "amazing" powers. At first, he has fun discovering that he can climb walls, spin webs and get even with the school bully.
While the movie follows the formula of Spider-Man fighting the bad guys but considered a threat by the police, there is a lot more psychological aspects to the effect that his double life has on Peter.
The action heats up when Dr. Connors injects himself with the serum and turns into The Lizard. Spider-Man chases him through the sewers and city streets, battling to the end.
The special effects are good, with 3D adding a bit to the flying scenes (if you want to spend the extra money). The dialogue is crisp. The action becomes intense. And there is one big finish. But stay around after a few credits for a brief epilogue, which insures that Peter will continue to search for answers and face more battles.
We're not sure how Gwen will play out the story. Garfield and Stone are great together, as are the brief scenes with Sally Field and Martin Sheen as Aunt May and Uncle Ben. We can't wait to see where Spider-Man goes from here.
Rated PG-13, with comic book violence.