Pop culture from Southern California and beyond.

'The Amazing Spider-Man' review: Spidey satisfies despite mysteries that don't get webbed up

'The Amazing Spider-Man' Germany Premiere

Sean Gallup/Getty Images for Sony Pictures

Andrew Garfield attends the Germany premiere of "The Amazing Spider-Man" at Sony Center on June 20, 2012 in Berlin, Germany.

Actress Emma Stone arrives for the premi

AFP/AFP/Getty Images

Emma Stone (who plays Gwen Stacy) arrives at the premiere of "The Amazing Spider-Man."

"The Amazing Spider-Man" Cast Visit The Empire State Building

Cindy Ord/Getty Images

Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone take pictures on the observatory deck of The Empire State Building on June 25, 2012.

"The Amazing Spider-Man" Panel - Comic-Con 2011

Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Andrew Garfield speaks at "The Amazing Spider-Man" Panel during Comic-Con 2011 at San Diego Convetion Center on July 22, 2011 in San Diego, initially disguised under that mask as a fan.

The Amazing Spider-Man is in theaters now, for everyone who thought there was a need for another Spider-Man origin story just 10 years after the last Spider-Man origin film. The verdict: It's actually good.

The film's cast combines the heft of Martin Sheen and Sally Field as Peter Parker's aunt and uncle with the young fresh faces of star Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker/Spidey and Emma Stone as love interest Gwen Stacy. The relationship between Peter and his uncle, one that proves the inciting incident for his heroism, gets more development here than in the previous Spider-Man film. Denis Leary has a nice turn as Stacy's father, who's also the chief of police.

Superhero films are often defined by their villain, but while there's certainly a villain here in the Lizard, the movie takes its time getting there. The first hour or so is spent building up to Peter as Spider-Man, making you care about the man before he puts on the mask. The shadow of Spider-Man archvillain the Green Goblin hangs over the film due to its inclusion of shadowy corporation OsCorp, with the Green Goblin/Norman Osborn alluded to, but he never stands revealed. The Lizard himself is a tragic villain and proves a worthy adversary, challenging Spider-Man both physically and mentally.


Surprisingly Great: Fast Five - No, really

I'm not a movie snob. I'll go see a wacky comedy or the big new superhero action flick. However, this weekend I encountered something that befuddled my expectations: Fast Five.

I had never previously seen a Fast & The Furious franchise film. I dismissively thought that these movies and the gazillions of dollars they make time and again weren't for me.

This weekend I had a family event, though, and my mom offered me two options of films she wanted to see: Fast Five or Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. I looked them up on my phone and went with the one with the higher Rotten Tomatoes score.

And boy was that ever the right choice. Friends, this is a capital-A-action movie. It's not often that you go to the movies and see a stunt/set piece that isn't similar to one you've seen in dozens of other movies, but I thought there were bits in this that genuinely surprised me.