Warm up your surcharge because this Spider-Man has one reason to exist: the 3-D. There are other, more human reasons to see it: a convincingly gawky Andrew Garfield, a suspiciously grown-up Emma Stone, a surprisingly forgivable Sally Field. But even this reboot's surest dramatic satisfactions (Harry Potter digester Steve Kloves is one of the movie's three credited writers; the script divorces itself almost entirely from the quirks of Sam Raimi's 15-minutes-ago Spider-Man trilogy) are just Styrofoam packing peanuts buffering an expensive hard drive, one loaded with hyperextended POVs and comin'-atcha money shots and look-at-me quick cuts from the usual robot army of digital artists. (The price of seeing the impossible — 3-D and IMAX upcharges — continues skyward while the surprises diminish, but this at least is the rare 3-D object more eager to induce weightlessness than vertigo.)
Fair enough. Spider-Man is an adolescent superhero — Garfield's Peter Parker is a straight-up selfish douchebag until the last half-hour (not a bad thing) — so there's no complaining about a big, loud (Jesus Christ, James Horner — what's with your Titanic-retread score?) movie in easy synch with teenage attention spans.
And, anyway, director Marc Webb (uh, really) understands something crucial at the heart of this touchstone Marvel character: flight. For his similarly red-and-blue-clad D.C. Comics competitor, Stan Lee solved the Superman problem — how do you answer a character able to defy gravity at will? — by expressing movement as a series of short, skittery escapes. Perfect for an orphan with abandonment issues or anyone who has ever cut off a chunk of that primal anxiety to manufacture some inner drama. (Moonrise Kingdom's Sam would make a pretty good Spider-Man.)
The urge for choreographed motion on display in Webb's 500 Days of Summer (and some of the young-adult indulgences of that emotional cul-de-sac of a movie) blossoms here into some fine and followable action sequences. No one was asking for a new Spider-Man, but this one gives good swoop.