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A movie directed by Sam Raimi

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With Great Budget and Great Source Material comes Great Movie

  • May 5, 2002
Pros: Everything you liked about the comic

Cons: Really, really predicable

The Bottom Line: Faster than a speeding bullet! More powerful than a locomotive! Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound... Sorry, wrong superhero.

Before I begin to write the review, let me let off a little steam: Advertising has gone too far! I had to endure like six commercials before we even got to the previews. Isn't the whole point of going to the movies to get away from commercials? Previews I don't mind, but when I have to sit through a ton of twenty second spots because some greedy company CEO wants to pump his product in a vain attempt to add to his already overinflated bank account, things have gone too far.

Alright. Done. Thank you. That being said, let me now say that the long-awaited Spider-man movie has finally opened, thus signaling the start of the summer movie season. You know, the part of the year when all the big studios create tons of hype to disguise the fact that the $100 million movies they made are crap.

The original script for Spider-man has been floating around Tinseltown for some ten years, going through revision after revision and director after director, including a brief stint with James Cameron. Well, now it finally hit the big screen, courtesy of Sam Raimi, and now it shines as an example of what all the other summer movies have to live up to, as well as an example of a movie that lives up to the hype.

For those unfamiliar with the comic, Spider-man is about a young high school student named Peter Parker, best known in his class as the stereotypical nerd. One day, while out on a field trip, he gets bitten by a radioactive spider and begins to develop, as all good superheroes do, strange powers. Parker gains superhuman strength, the ability to climb on walls, and a sixth sense that allows him to react to danger faster. Parker decides to put this interesting turn of events to use, at first using them in an attempt to gain stardom. When a criminal runs by him one day, Parker, although perfectly capable and in an easy position to stop him, arrogently steps aside, citing the fact that it's not his responsibility. Soon after, he finds that his Uncle Ben, his guardian, was murdered, and charges out after the murderer. The murderer turns out to be the same bum who he let go earlier. Its with this coincedence that he realises the responsibility on his shoulders, and he goes out to fight crime.

All that made a virtually seamless transition to the silver screen, with just a few differences every here and there (Parker's web-shooters came with the bite instead of from his workshop, for example). Actually, I was surprised at how well it turned out-Spider-man the movie isn't about our masked superhero being a crimefighter, but about Parker's transition from high school nerd to Arachnid crimefighter. A lot of people went into an uproar over the choice of Tobey Maguire to play the wisecracking web-crawler, but since the movie is more about Parker than Spider-man, they made a good choice. Maguire captures everything about Parker perfectly, from his geeky clumsiness to his hopeless crush on goddess-next-door Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst, who's on a major career role). Indeed, after Parker gets bitten, we don't get thrown into the plot right off the bat, but we get a few scenes of Parker trying to learn how to use his newfound gifts. Even after he figure it all out, he almost stumbles his way through the first half of the movie learning to master his power. After answering an ad for a wrestling match, Parker goes into a steel cage bout which was supposed to be three minutes for $3000. When Parker wins it in two, we see a rise in his confidence, which then goes down a little when the bookie screws him out of all but $100. Its here that the robber comes in. When asked why he let the robber get away, Parker's cold response comes out in the tone of an angry person who has just gotten screwed: "Tell me when you get to the part about it being my responsibility". Upon finding Uncle Ben dying on the street, Parker's anger is especially apparent, as he gives chase driven on by nothing but his own rage. The emotion Maguire displays in pulling all this off is simply incredible.

All the while, the movie does justice to the way Parker tries to keep Spider-man and Peter Parker from becoming the same person. Throughout the movie, Parker plays like every other good superhero, never saying he's Spider-man, he just knows Spider-man. A little. Parker's need to keep the two of them apart is the cause of some of the more suspenseful scenes in the movie.

On the other side of town, an ambitious scientist named Norman Osbourn complains about how humans have yet to begin to tap their potential after a billion years of evolution. Norman drinks a potion that clearly makes him stronger at the cost of his sanity. He then steals a top-secret military glider, some weapons, then its off to terrorize people and knock off his business opponents using the moniker Green Goblin. Osbourn is an interesting character because he is pitting his relentless ambition against his desire to at least try to be a decent person. The problem is the fact that, unlike Peter Parker and Spider-man, Norman Osbourn and Green Goblin are two different personalities, and in the end Osbourn just gives in to the Green Goblin. As Norman Osbourn/Green Goblin, we have Willem Dafoe hamming up the part, very obviously having the time of his life, as all great actors do with parts like this. Dafoe is scary enough as Osbourn, but the Green Goblin takes tht to a whole other level. Just wait until you hear his insane cackle.

The battles between Spider-man and Green Goblin are where the action factor kicks in, being suspenceful while at the same time never being too serious. The two circle each other, threaten each other and beat the living crap out of each other. And there's just something hilarious about watching a superhero and a supervillain threaten each other and not being able to see either of their lips' moving.

Spider-man has set the summer blockbuster standard for the year. It gives us a fun, amusing action movie but at the same time delivers a touching coming-of-age story that's far better than the vast majority of those crappy teen movies that call themselves coming-of-age stories. And in a summer that's going to be flooded with sequels (that are most likely inferior), it will probably be one of only a few good ones.


Suitability For Children: Suitable for Children Age 9 - 12

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More Spider-Man (movie) reviews
review by . July 18, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
I'm not really a huge spider-man fan, i never really liked the comic books, and other than this one none of the movies really appealed to me. One of the things that made this movie so popular is the truly amazing special effects used. The computer animation is so good that its very difficult to see the difference between the real action and the CGI. The story was very well laid out and interesting enough to encourage the viewer to finish the movie. This is another one of those action movies …
review by . December 05, 2009
   It took many years to get this project done and it certainly delivers as not only a great super hero story but a great film in general that has something to please all movie-goers. From Peter's relationships with his Uncle and Aunt, his persuit of Mary Jane, and the valuable lesson he learns when he abuses his powers (with great power comes great responsibility).    Toby Maguire became a household name from this film and Kurstin Dunst is excellent as Mary Jane.  For those …
Quick Tip by . August 05, 2010
A little slow to start and a little talky but the movie really gets the web swinger's first adventure off to a great start.
Quick Tip by . July 20, 2010
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The movie that started the superhero movie craze, actually was entertaining and visually appealing.
Quick Tip by . July 12, 2010
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Entertaining movie with great special effects. Not happy with the way they have Peter become Spiderman in this movie.
review by . November 08, 2009
When I heard they had made a big screen, live action adaption of  one of Marvels most profitable and most popular heroes, Spider-Man I was a little  less than enthusiastic seeing as I grew up watching the Spider-Man 1994 animated series when I was  younger. But after finally viewing it  and seeing it for what it is, Sam Rami's Spider-Man  is a masterstroke among the comic book films and is quite possible the   film that started the  Marvel revolution.   …
Quick Tip by . May 04, 2010
Spiderman learns of his powers and stops a super powered criminal in The Green Goblin. Slow at times and fun at others.
review by . June 21, 2008
posted in Movie Hype
This review will be split into three sections, they will be The Story, The Characters & The Verdict. This will give you a fair and true description of the movie and its characters and will give you my personal opinion of the movie which should help you make an informed decision on whether to watch this film for the first time or whether to stay away like you have already done for six years.    The Story: Tobey Maguire plays Peter Parker an aspiring photographer who one day is …
review by . September 17, 2004
posted in Movie Hype
Sam Rami needs to be congratulated on making a film that totally outdoes its predecessor. Tobey McGuire is great and is one of the most likeable characters (re: Peter Parker) that I have seen in a film in a long time. Alfred Molina is great as one of the more charismatic villains that have ever been portrayed on the screen. I found myself cheering several times throughout the movie.    Peter Parker can't seem to hold a job (he's killing a pizza business that promises on-time …
review by . January 22, 2004
posted in Movie Hype
It took many years to get this project done and it certainly delivers as not only a great super hero story but a great film in general that has something to please all movie-goers. From Peter's relationships with his Uncle and Aunt, his persuit of Mary Jane, and the valuable lesson he learns when he abuses his powers (with great power comes great responsibility).The special effects were amazing and the choice of the Green Goblin as the tortured Norman Osbourn was perfect. Whatever you do, don't …
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Ranked #26
Hi! I'm here in part to plug my writing and let everyone know that I'm trying to take my work commercial.      Now, what about me? Well, obviously I like to write. I'm … more
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About this movie


Based on the classic Marvel Comics series, Sam Raimi's SPIDER-MAN deftly details the origin of the web-slinging superhero. When awkward New York City teenager Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) attends a class field trip to a laboratory, he gets bitten by a genetically altered spider while taking photos of his longtime crush, the lovely Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst). Soon he discovers this bite has given him remarkable powers--heightened strength, dexterity, and awareness, along with the ability to cling to walls and shoot webs from his wrists. Hoping to win Mary Jane's heart using his new talents, Peter becomes distracted from home life with his doting Aunt May (Rosemary Harris) and Uncle Ben (Cliff Robertson), ultimately leading to tragedy--and his new role as the crime-fighting Spider-Man. Meanwhile Harry Osborn (Willem Dafoe), the industrialist father of Peter's friend Norman (James Franco), undergoes a transformation of his own, bringing about the creation of Spider-Man's arch-nemesis: The Green Goblin...                                            
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Director: Sam Raimi
Genre: Action, Drama, Sci-Fi
Release Date: 2002, May 3, 2002
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Screen Writer: Stan Lee, David Koepp, Steve Ditko
DVD Release Date: November 1, 2002
Runtime: 2hrs 1min
Studio: Sony Pictures, Columbia Pictures
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