There are two kinds of people in this world (okay, there are way more than that, but stay with me here). There are people who want change, and people who want things to stay the same.
The Amazing Spider-Man is for the former, and I count myself among them. It accepts that there are thousands of people in Hollywood who can wield CGI like Harry Potter's wand, so why not put the next chapter of Spider-Man in the hands of someone who's more comfortable with humans than with computers?
And why not address some questions that have been glaring (or glaringly omitted) for the entire half-century that Spider-Man has existed?
The director is Marc Webb, whose 500 Days of Summer is simply the most honest, realistic and funny depiction of the complicated dance between men and women in decades.
It is therefore not a surprise that (a) The Amazing Spider-Man is more about a realistically-troubled teen named Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) than the cipher super-hero Spider-Man, and specifically about Peter's romance with an ultimately tragic blond named Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone), and (b) it is unquestionably the best-acted Spider-Man movie.
Parker's parents (hey, ever wonder what happened to them?) turn out to have been scientists, connected to geneticist Dr. Kurt Connors (Rhys Ifans), a.k.a. The Lizard. It's about time they had some part to play in the canon. (Although Martin Sheen and Sally Field are perfectly amiable as surrogate parents Uncle Ben and Aunt May.)
Everyone in The Amazing Spider-Man is believable. The romance between Peter and Gwen is charged, Romeo & Juliet style, by her police chief dad (Denis Leary)'s initial dislike of Peter and his principled outrage against the very idea of costumed vigilante-ism.
Okay, you're saying, enough about relationships. What is this, Twilight? (And if you can't tell the difference between the relationships here and in cardboard tween pulp, I will be checking I.D. at the door). Suffice to say, the science of making things go "B-thoom!" and the artistry of wirework has advanced to the point that it's hardly worth remarking upon. Be assured, all that stuff is certifiably awesome (except for 3D, which regular readers know, I dismiss on principle).