Spider-Man (2002)

“With Great power, comes great responsibility.” – Uncle Ben

Superhero and American icon, Spider-man is born finally in the new box-office smash movie directed by acclaimed and cult director Sam Raimi (Evil Dead). In case you don’t know the famous story, Peter Parker, a geeky photographer at his school who is constantly bullied and has eyes for the neighborhood good girl Mary Jane, is bitten by a hybrid radioactive spider on a field trip to a science lab. The next day, the effects make him a superhuman giving him all sorts of spider powers. Meanwhile, a new evil is born. Multi-millionaire, Norman Osborne, while trying to explore a new experiment, gets hit with a split personality and becomes insane with power. Now Spider-man must stop this new menace before the Green Goblin hurts the people Peter holds so dear.

Ah. It’s so pleasing to see a comic book movie be made accurately. Very few are. Over the past twenty years I’ve seen some of my favorite comics be turned into mush by horrible directors. But making a comic book into a movie is very risky. You have to remain loyal to the comic book to please the fans, yet make it new and fresh for general audiences. Some have worked (X-Men) and some haven’t (Captain America). But this movie. This movie fans can finally turn and say, “They finally got it right.” Yes, this movie is a lot more superior to lots of the other Comic book movies. Where to start? My favorite, The actors. Tobey Maguire is Spider-man. He exudes this school boy innocence and makes you believe that he’s really a geek and that he really does get picked on.

When he’s Spider-man, he’s even better. I was afraid that Sam Raimi would extinguish some of Spider-mans sarcasm that has made him so famous in the past, but I wasn’t disappointed. Spider-man spits out some great and hilarious comebacks that will make many people laugh. Tobey Maguire is unbelievably by being able to make an established character over the last century into his own. His mannerisms and facial expressions are excellent and give us that boy next door feeling while we know he has a mysterious more edgy alter-ego. Willem Dafoe is excellent as Norman Osborne, the man who is consumed with his work and often neglects his son in favor of Peter. In the movie, Willem is great at portraying the symbolic Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Hyde-esque villain.

In the movie, The Green Goblin is at first intrigued by Spider-man and sees a lot of potential in his powers, he eventually traps him and makes him a proposition. He asks Spidey to join him in wreaking havoc on New York, but when Spider-man refuses, he feels betrayed and becomes even more violent. At one moment, Norman Osborne is sitting at the dinner table with Peter and the rest and finds a cut on parkers arm, one that he inflicted on him as the Green Goblin. At that moment, he feels even more betrayed that the boy who he considered his son, would be his worst enemy. Then it gets personal.

Kirsten Dunst as Mary Jane, Parkers object of affection, is great in this role, giving her a mix of an innocence and bad girl quality. She is constantly abused by her father and often seeks comfort in her boyfriends, but gets nothing. Throughout the whole movie, she inadvertently gets comfort from Peter, but doesn’t realize he’s the guy for her until the end. James Franco did good with this role. The “Freaks and Geeks” veteran has been able to turn the weasly Harry Osborne into a great cool character who is often in a friendly rivalry with Peter. Peter has what Harry wants, Admiration from Norman, and Harry, out of jealousy, eventually takes what Peter wants, Mary Jane.

The special-effects are really good, kids in the theatre would cheer every time spider-man came out and I truly got the feel that he was real. Sam Raimi does an excellent job in directing this movie by providing intricate camera angles and making New York look humongous. It’s helps that Raimi is a lifelong Spider-man fan. Who better to direct a comic book movie than a comic book fan? The movie in itself is excellent. Look for lots of references to other comic book characters and cameos by Raimi veteran actor Bruce Campbell, and look for a brief cameo by Stan Lee, the creator of Spider-man. Ah, They finally got it right folks. Bravo Mr. Raimi. The problem with this movie is evident. The special-effects are pretty sloppy. It seemed at times that they didn’t even want many of Spider-mans scenes to look real.

At one point, when Peter is tracking down the guy who killed his uncle Ben, his body looks polygonal and weird. The Green Goblin at times also looks pretty fuzzy. The sub-plot with Mary Jane and Peter Parker is pretty uninteresting at times, making it seem like intermission rather than a part of the movie. I also felt that they sped through this movie a lot. When Parker finally decides on a costume and chooses his trademark outfit, automatically, he’s swinging on buildings and such. How did he get the costume? Did he make it? At least show a brief scene of him making the costume. I also felt the narration was unnecessary and redundant at times, it seemed like one of those commentaries on the DVD than anything else. Finally, a fully faithful adaptation to a comic book icon, save for some bumps along the road. It’s a fun movie.