The amazing part of "The Amazing Spider-Man" is the fact that the human story is so fleshed-out and effective - I mean, this is a summer blockbuster; isn't the focus supposed to be on making things go boom? Thankfully, no. Screenwriters James Vanderbilt, Alvin Sargent and Steve Kloves have crafted a script that balances humor and humanity (and, yes, works in action sequences, too). Director Marc Webb keeps it all popping, while drawing out some fine performances. I thought Andrew Garfield was an awful choice to play Peter Parker ... until I saw the movie. He's perfect - smart, with a coiled intensity, able to chart the character's growth from introverted loner to superhero. His joyous amazement at discovering his Spidey powers is a highlight. Garfield's work with Emma Stone, as Parker's girlfriend, and Martin Sheen, as his uncle, provides the movie's considerable heart.
- KRISTINA DORSEY