Kirsten Dunst or Emma Stone?
Rosemary Harris or Sally Field?
I went to the midnight premier this week of the latest big-screen installment of Stan Lee’s comic book superhero, “The Amazing Spider-Man.”
Just when you thought the first trilogy had mined all the worthy material from the classic comic, the reboot arrives as somewhat of a prequel that revisits Spidey’s origin and the death of Uncle Ben, but also explores an untouched part of Peter Parker’s story — the mysterious deaths of his parents, Richard and Mary Parker.
As a fan first of the comic books and then of the original Spider-Man movies, I went in, with much anticipation, prepared to judge this movie on how well it matches up to the previous series.
Who’s the better Peter Parker?
Who’s the better love interest?
Who’s the better Aunt May?
Which is the better movie?
First of all, there’s no J. Jonah Jameson this time around. The job of convincing everyone that the web-swinger is a menace to society falls to Denis Leary who plays the duty-driven police Capt. Stacy, the father of Peter Parker’s love interest, Gwen Stacy, played by Emma Stone.
There’s also no red-head bombshell. This high school genius version of Peter Parker falls for Gwen Stacy, who was actually his first love in the comic books.
But more than his love affairs with Mary Jane and Gwen Stacy, it was always his relationship with Aunt May that most showed Peter Parker’s tender and vulnerable humanity.
Rosemary Harris was very believable in the role of Peter’s aunt, but Sally Field refuses to be outdone, playing the younger but still strong and wise matriarch.
Then there’s the bad guy.
The comic books seem to have no end of super-powered psychos looking to make New York City their stomping ground, and “The Amazing Spider-Man” has one of the wall-crawler’s most deadly enemies — the Lizard. He’s as vicious and conflicted as any of the original villains.
Garfield’s Peter Parker is a little darker than the unassuming Maguire, more of an awkward loner than a love-struck nerd.
The action is stylish and fast and powerful, although the fight scenes with the Lizard don’t quite match the subway scene of “Spider-Man 2” when he rumbles with Doc Ock.
The web-swinging scenes through the city are still the breathtaking fantasy you long to see when you read the comic books.
The undercurrent of the entire movie is the mystery of what happened with Peter Parker’s parents. What dark secrets lurk behind the walls of OsCorp? There are myriad clues throughout this installment that let you know there are more installments in the works.
But what about this one? Is it as good, or even better than the first three?
At the end of the day, there’s no comparison ... because they shouldn’t be compared.
The reason to see any Spider-Man movie is for the timeless story about a troubled teenage boy who gets bitten by a radioactive spider.
Whose newfound powers don’t make his problems go away, but adds to them.
Who wants to do the right thing, even if it means his own unhappiness.
He falls, he scars, he bleeds.
He’s one of us.
As much as we cheer for this accidental guardian who must rescue the city of New York over and over again, this time around the person we most need Spider-Man to save is Peter Parker.
Managing Editor Anthony Cook can be reached at 256-235-3558, or on Twitter at Acook_Star.
The Amazing Spider-Man - ***
Rating: PG-13 for sequences of action and violence
Running time: 2:18
Starring: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Martin Sheen, Sally Field