The Nicholas Hammond starring TV movie* “Spider-Man” is also the two hour TV pilot for the cult classic series “The Amazing Spider-Man.” When you consider the decade, and the budget, “Spider-Man” isn’t too bad of a movie. When I was a kid it was about all we had in the realm of live action Spider-Man, and sadly with its budget we never got banner foes like Green Goblin and or Doctor Octopus. We were instead granted a lot of gangsters, and cronies, as well as the occasional ninja or two (and in this instance, three martial arts thugs with wooden sticks). “Spider-Man” the Movie that sets the stage for the series is a solid iteration of Spider-Man that is altogether a mixed bag.
It suffers in some narrative aspects, but works as a stripped down version of the character. Nicholas Hammond is very good as the cherubic and non-threatening Peter Parker who is able to maneuver past police and local newspaper editor J. Jonah Jameson without any of them ever catching on to his alter ego. Like most origin stories, it sags in creating the hero, but when Spider-Man finally comes on screen the film picks up considerably in pacing. We all know the origin of Spider-Man, except the key element that’s left out is the murder of Uncle Ben which drives Peter to become a superhero. Here Peter Parker is bitten by a radioactive spider and almost immediately springs on to walls in an effort to dodge an assassination attempt by the villains.
From there he begins building his persona as the public at large are made aware of the “Spider-Man” and his efforts to stop the villains. The devious plot involves a man who is using sound waves and lights to control various people across the city to commit crimes. He threatens to force ten random people to commit suicide if he’s not given fifty million dollars. Peter scrambles as Spider-Man to learn his powers while fighting the bad guys and the director does a solid job of representing his abilities. Despite the occasionally goofy green screen and reverse takes used to enhance the webbing Peter shoots, overall I enjoyed watching the character solve this crime. There’s also the costume which looks goofy in some scenes, and the fact that Peter’s banner banter is missing.
Hammond only really wears the suit in two scenes as most of the work of Spider-Man is performed by stuntman Fred Waugh. So the action scenes even at their best, lack the punctuation of Spider-Man’s sarcasm, wit, and overall awe at the situations he drops in to time and time again. These days there’s a plethora of Spider-Man media to choose from for anyone, but if you’re a more experimental Spider-Man fan that has never seen this iteration, I suggest giving it a shot. It’s not too bad.
* The TV Movie can likely be found on Youtube.