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'Spider-Man' often amazing

Published July 31. 2012 05:01PM

"The Amazing Spider-Man" is appropriately titled.

This is one swinging "Spider-Man," especially if you see the Marvel Comics-based movie in the Imax 3D format.

Spider-Man's web-spinning and zinging from skyscraper to skyscraper is a sight to behold.

"The Amazing Spider-Man" has several sequences which are tantamount to an aerial ballet.

As for other aspects of "The Amazing Spider-Man" not so amazing.

The storyline utilizes the oft-used mad scientist turned monster plot.

Here, it's Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans), who turns into a giant lizard. No cute Gecko here.

At one point, when told about Mr. Lizard by Peter Parker, aka Spider-Man (Andrew Garfield), the city's police Captain Stacy (Denis Leary) says something in effect, "OK, and you're talking to the mayor of Tokyo."

While the reference to Japanese monster movies is probably intended as a pre-emptive strike to deflect comparisons and its effect is that of a punch line, "The Amazing Spider-Man" sets up a confrontation between Spidey and what looks like a 21st century version of Godzilla.

The climax isn't helped by lame police public address and television commentator pronouncements on the movie's soundtrack such as "the giant lizard is headed down Seventh Avenue."

Fortunately, the casting of Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker, aka Spider-Man, and Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy, provides big-screen chemistry between the two leads.

The movie is also worth seeing in Imax 3D also for Emma Stone's beautiful hazel eyes.

One thing I can't figure out: How does Andrew Garfield get that wonderful head of head under the Spider-Man mask?

The set-up for Peter Parker's transformation into Spider-Man is effective and reasonably believable.

It's fun to have Emma Stone as a tour guide at the corporation doing that nefarious genetic research, as well as to have Denis Leary as her police captain father. It creates interesting conflicts among the main characters.

Adding to the solid casting are Martin Sheen as Peter Parker's Uncle Ben and Sally Field as Peter Parker's Aunt May.

The director is the appropriately-named Marc Webb ("(500) Days of Summer"), working from a screenplay by James Vanderbilt ("Zodiac"), who also wrote the story: Alvin Sargent ("Spider-Man 2 and 3," "Anywhere But Here," "Other People's Money," "Ordinary People"); Steve Kloves ("Harry Potter" movies), based on Marvel Comics characters created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko.

Look for Stan Lee in a cameo as a kindly teacher listening to music in the high school library.

While most spider bites are harmless, "The Amazing Spider-Man" sticks it to movie-goers with mixed results.

"The Amazing Spider-Man," MPAA Rated PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13) for sequences of action and violence; Genre: Action, Fantasy, Thriller; Run-time: Two hours, 16 minutes; Distributed by Columbia Pictures.

Credit Readers Anonymous: Stay through the first part of the credits for "The Amazing Spider-Man" and you'll see a set up for what looks like a guaranteed sequel.

Box Office, July 20: "The Dark Knight Rises" opened at No. 1, with $160.8 million, pushing "Ice Age: Continental Drift" to No. 2, $20.4 million, $88.8 million, two weeks.

3. "The Amazing Spider-Man," $10.8 million, $228.6 million, three weeks; 4. "Ted," $10 million, $180.4 million, four weeks; 5. "Brave," $6 million, $208.7 million, five weeks; 6. "Magic Mike," $4.2 million, $101.9 million, four weeks; 7. "Savages," $3.3 million, $40 million, three weeks; 8. "Madea's Witness Protection," $2.2 million, $60.3 million, four weeks; 9. "Moonrise Kingdom," $1.8 million, $36 million, nine weeks; 10. "To Rome With Love," $1.4 million, $11.1 million, four weeks

Unreel, July 27:

"The Watch," R: Ben Stiller leads a group suburban neighborhood dads (Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill) to form a block watch. They weren't prepared for an alien invasion.

"Step Up Revolution," PG-13: An aspiring dancer's boyfriend's dance crew's neighborhood is threatened by her father's development plans. We are not making this up.

Read previous movie reviews by Paul Willistein at the Times-News web site, where the movie reviews are archived. Email Paul Willistein and on Facebook.

Three Popcorn Boxes out of Five Popcorn Boxes

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