Monday, July 2, 2012

New Spider-man Pretty Amazing


By Skip Sheffield

“The Amazing Spider-Man” is more than just a reboot of a beloved comic book super hero. It’s a massive infusion of steroids into a faltering 40-year-old fable.
It was just ten years ago that Marvel Comics’ Spider-Man cinematic franchise was rebooted by director Sam Raimi, with Tobey Maguire as Peter Parker and Kirsten Dunst as his girlfriend Mary Jane Watson. They went on to star in two sequels.
Andrew Garfield, who was so terrific in “Social Network,” is even better as this year’s Peter Parker.
Though he is thin and slight like Tobey Maguire, there is something manlier about Andrew Garfield. He has an air of anger and danger, underscored with deep sorrow.
The story begins with a prologue that explains more about Peter than we previously knew. Peter evidently idolized his father (Campbell Scott), but one day when he was about 6 Peter’s parents left in a big hurry and dumped him off with his Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) and Aunt May (Sally Field).
Peter, now 17, is in his senior year at a Forest Hill, Queens science high school. He is bullied by Flash (Chris Zylka) the football hero, and he is in awe of Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone), a beautiful but seemingly unobtainable classmate.
In the course of masquerading as an intern at the humongous Oscorp headquarters, Peter is done a favor by Gwen, who covers for him, and he goes off to do a little investigating on his own.
Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans) was the research partner of Peter’s father and he is now the chief research scientist at Oscorp. Connors is missing his right arm, and he has become obsessed with the idea of regeneration. If a lizard can grow back a severed tail he reasons, perhaps a human could do the same thing with a limb.
Prowling in one of the laboratories Peter encounters a mass of spiders and one gives him a painful bite.
It was no ordinary spider but one charged with radioactivity. Suddenly Peter develops spider-like abilities to snatch things out of mid-air, crawl up walls and stick to ceilings upside down.
Garfield’s Peter has a lot more fun than Maguire ever had with his newfound powers. Furthermore he has a much stronger romantic chemistry with his leading lady than his predecessor.
Emma Stone is wide-eyed adorable, but she is also feisty and a fitting match for her super boyfriend, who ironically becomes a target of her protective father, police Captain Stacy (Denis Leary).
There are some goofy things about this movie, not the least of which is the mutant monster villain. Director Marc Webb has the good sense to laugh at the sillier aspects of the plot. Webb directed the bittersweet romance “(500) Days of Summer,” and he is equally at home with action and the ways of the heart.
Yes, Hollywood seems to be bankrupt of original ideas, but in this case they have improved on a tried-and-true formula. Welcome back Spidey!
Shakespeare in Key West
FAU is offering a buy-one, get-one-free deal on the rest of its Summer Rep Shows through July 28. If you like the music of Jerry Herman (“Hello Dolly,” “Mame,” “La Cage aux Folles,” etc), you’ll appreciate “Showtune: A Jerry Herman Musical Revue,” which showcases Herman’s best-known and some little-known gems in the FAU Theatre.
In the Studio One Theater, director Jean-Louis Baldet has come up with a goofy take on Shakespeare’s romantic romp “Love’s Labour’s Lost.” The setting is Key West in the year 1947. Why, I don’t know, but it gives the cast a chance to wear exaggerated 1940s attire, which is fun. So is the kazoo chorus.
Ferdinand, the “King of Key West” (Darrick Perry), is from Jamaica, mon, with accent to match. The pint-sized “Princess of France” (Lynn Wilhite) seems to be enjoying things more so than her court.
One of the drawbacks of pairing professional actors with students is that you can really tell which is which when the actors simply open their mouths to spout Elizabethean English. Holofernia (Equity actress Kathryn Lee Johnston), a “professor of etymology and philology,” has so much better enunciation and projection she seems to be out of another play.
But any show that has the entire cast join in on the 1938 Sammy Fain classic “I’ll Be Seeing You” is OK in my book.
Tickets are $20 general admission; $14 group and $12 students. Call 800-564-9539 or go to

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