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The Amazing Spider-Man
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Amazing Spider-Man sticks pretty closely to the standard superhero template. There's an average guy (Andrew Garfield) who mysteriously receives amazing powers and is suddenly thrust into the unfamiliar role of savior, some tame romance (kissing, flirting), mild swearing ("damn," "hell"), and lots of comic book-style action -- cars getting thrown off bridges, villains throwing heroes through walls, and assorted other mayhem, some with weapons and a bit of blood. Popular actress Emma Stone co-stars as Spidey's love interest, and Martin Sheen adds gravitas in the tragic role of Peter Parker's kind Uncle Ben.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
In THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, young Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) watches his parents rush off in a hurry after parking him with his Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) and Aunt May (Sally Field). They never returned, dying in a crash. It's a wound that Peter revisits from time to time, despite a pretty happy childhood overall (though he's not exactly -- or even remotely -- popular). Then, on a visit to Oscorp, the lab where his father once worked, a trip spurred by the discovery of secret files in his father's long-lost portfolio, Peter meets his dad's former colleague, Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans), and is fatefully bitten by a spider. Not just any spider: one that somehow transfers its strengths to a teenage Peter. His life will no longer be his own as he struggles to merge his Peter Parker self and his new alter-ego, one who will soon find a dangerous nemesis set to destroy Manhattan.
Is it any good?
Director Marc Webb brings a realism to the proceedings that's hard not to like in this superhero reboot. He lingers on the teen romance, which is delightful, and serves up thrilling action sequences without the show-off-y quality that too many superhero movies rely on. One gripe worth airing is about Spider-Man's nemesis: The Lizard seems scary enough, but not so scary as to be a worthy opponent. This Spidey wants to show off, as a teen encountering new powers would, and he deserved a proper fight.
Let's be honest, though: The Spider-Man franchise didn't really need a reboot. Sure, the third film of the last set, which featured the wonderful Tobey Maguire in the titular role, was a bit disappointing, but overall the series was a crowd-pleaser in many ways. So is there any reason to love this new outing, which treads over much of the same backstory as previous films did? Well, yes. Garfield brings a different but equally fantastic energy to the role; his Peter has a skater-on-the-fringes angst that's not emo and not super-boyish (like Maguire) but still perfect for a teenage superhero. He's antsy and curious and very charming. And it helps differentiate The Amazing Spider-Man from previous movies that Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone), not Mary Jane Watson, is Peter/Spidey's love interest here.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the Spider-Man franchise. How is The Amazing Spider-Man different from the 2002 version with Tobey Maguire in the title role? Did this series need a remake of Spidey's origin tale? What do you think the main motivating factor was to make one? The story, or the money to be made?
It's hard to imagine a superhero film without plenty of action, including explosions, fights, and gunfire. How does the impact of the violence in movies like this one compare to that of other action or horror films?
Is Peter a role model before he becomes Spider-Man? After?
- In theaters: July 3, 2012
- On DVD or streaming: November 6, 2012
- Cast: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans
- Director: Marc Webb
- Studio: Columbia Pictures
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Superheroes, Great Boy Role Models, Great Girl Role Models, High School
- Run time: 138 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: sequences of action and violence
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