This Week in New York Insider's Guide to Arts & Culture in New York City Since 2001



British actor Andrew Garfield spins a mixed web in latest Spider-Man movie

South Street Seaport
Corner of Front & Fulton Sts.
Wednesday, August 14, free, 8:00

Originally announced to be the fourth Spider-Man movie in the franchise restarted in 2002 by Sam Raimi that featured Tobey Maguire as Peter Parker and Kirsten Dunst as Mary Jane Watson, The Amazing Spider-Man instead goes back to the beginning, telling a different origin story that mixes elements of various issues of the immensely popular comic book hero. The first third of the new film works extremely well, as Peter (Tony-nominated British actor Andrew Garfield) falls for beautiful blonde Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone), is bitten by a radioactive spider developed by the one-armed Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans), and learns how to use his new strength to battle high school bully Flash Thompson (Chris Zylka) while having difficulty explaining himself to Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) and Aunt May (Sally Field), who raised him after his parents’ disappearance. It’s even directed by a man named Webb, as if it was all meant to be. But soon Marc Webb, a longtime video director whose breakthrough was 2009’s (500) Days of Summer, lets things get way out of hand as the film devolves faster than you can say “With great power comes great responsibility” (which nobody actually says in this film), with gaping plot holes so big you can drive a New York City crane through them — and when the cranes do in fact show up, they elicit well-deserved groans from the audience. The Amazing Spider-Man works best when Garfield and Stone are on-screen together, their blossoming romance building slowly but elegantly, perhaps representative of real life, as they became one of Hollywood’s hottest couples while making the film. But as Connors transforms into the Lizard, The Amazing Spider-Man loses its focus, turning into yet another CGI-crazed monster movie with silly plot twists, annoying red herrings, and ridiculous segments. (Just what’s up with that antidote, and why do villains always build self-destruct machines that have to count down really loudly?) Even the 3D that worked so well in the beginning seems to have been forgotten in the second half. This reboot deserves a swift boot in the you-know-what, especially given the promise of its opening scenes. The Amazing Spider-Man, is screening August 14 as part of the South Street Seaport’s “Front/Row” “See/Change” series, which continues August 17 with Chicago and August 21 with Back to the Future. For a day-by-day listing of free summer movie screenings throughout New York City, go here.

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