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A movie directed by Sam Raimi

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Spider Man: Classic Tale of Good vs. Evil, and oh yes Love!...

  • May 8, 2002
  • by
Pros: Special and visual effects, Toby Maguire’s portrayal of the web-slinger.

Cons: Very little to complain about; this is after all an action film.

The Bottom Line: If you are a Spider Man fan, this movie is a must see.

Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie's plot.

As a child no other superhero captured my imagination quite like the reluctant, everyday guy, superhero Spider Man. When he was not fighting the local baddies, he was just like everyone else, struggling to balance relationships, school, and work; he even flirted with poverty and unlike so many superhero’s, he struggled to make ends meet, and felt real human emotions.

Any self-respecting long-time reader of Marvel Comics knows Spidy’s tale: bitten on the hand by a genetically altered uber-spider, mild mannered nerd, Peter Parker begins to manifest spider-like powers. His hands grow spider-like hairs that allow him to climb building, he develops a sixth “spider sense” that warns him of the close proximity of danger, and of course he develops super strength. The only difference in manifested powers between the comic book Spider Manand the movie version is that this new Spider Manis able to shoot webbing from his wrists. In the comic book version Parker uses specially designed web packs under his Spidy suit, which occasionally run out.

Tobey Maguire (The Cider House Rules, Pleasantville) plays the movie Peter Parker/Spider Man, a nerdy, bright high school senior who is in love with his next door neighbor Mary Jane Watson played somewhat convincingly by a red headed Kirsten Dunst (Crazy/Beautiful, Bring it On, Interview with a Vampire). He has been smitten since the age of six, but unfortunately, Mary Jane shows no interest in poor Peter, and he is too shy to make his true feeling known to her.

Maguire does a masterful job as our reluctant hero, his large blue eyes always seem to have a sense of wonder and innocence in them that make his character likable and believable. And while his reasons for becoming the crime-fighting wall climber in red and blue, are totally contrived (he fails to prevent his uncles death by a carjacker) they work for the movie. Hey, high drama and edge-of-your-seat suspense this movie isn’t, a rolling good time and a timeless love story with action to spare, it is.

As the movie unfolds and Peter becomes Spider Man, Willem Dafoes’ Norman Osborn becomes his arch-nemesis The Green Goblin. The Goblin’s road to insanity and evil is not well explained in the movie, or in the comic book, for that matter, but Dafoe (Last Temptation of Christ, Shadow of The Vampire, Body of Evidence) does a masterful job depicting the green monster who fly’s around on a very cool metallic sled that shoot missiles and fires bullets! Norman Osborn’s son, Harry Osborn and Peter Parker’s best friend is played with boring forgetfulness by James Franco. Most of the time he is in the frame, he is not really there, he blends well into the background, but is so doing I felt nothing for him, despite the fact his father ignores him and he’s basically a loser, in love with a woman who doesn’t want him.

J.K. Simmons (OZ, Law & Order), turns in an inspired performance as J.Jonah Jameson the publisher of the Daily Bugle, the newspaper Peter Parker works for as a freelance photographer. Simmons captures the high-energy rantings of Jameson’s comic book persona with pleasing accuracy and stunning aplomb; in two words, loved it!
The visual and special effects in this film are outstanding. There were a few times when the use of computer enhanced effects was evident and transparent, but I don’t think their use took away from the overall feel of the film. Most of the action was live action, and the sequence where Spider Man flew and glided on spun web over the city, in between building and leaped from object to object, were superbly done.

Like all films adapted from books, or comic books in this instance (and this is especially true with action films), not all story lines can be carried forward to their logical conclusions; loose ends are the norm, and we never get truly complete character development. But despite this, I found myself caring about Peter Parker/Spider Man. As I was supposed to I was rooting for him and Mary Jane’s eventual union, so the ending of Spider Man surprised me at first, but upon further reflection I surmised that it was calculated to set up the sequel. So be it I say, I will be will be there in May 7 2004—or shortly thereafter—to see if Peter Parker can master his competing sides and truly get the girl.

~The Bard~


Suitability For Children: Suitable for Children Age 9 - 12

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More Spider-Man (movie) reviews
review by . March 16, 2011
I was pretty late jumping on to the Spiderman bandwagon, although I had seen some of the comics when I was younger and was relatively familiar with the universe. Thankfully for some, this is an origin story, so you don't have to be familiar with the comics at all to see and enjoy this. Spiderman is not perfect, but it's pretty good and provides a huge dose of web-slinging fun as well as some great heart thanks to its charming lead actors and entertaining villain. Spiderman 2 is the better …
review by . July 18, 2010
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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
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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
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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 …
About the reviewer
Vincent Martin ()
Ranked #189
I am an IT Professional and have worked in the industry for over 20 years. I may be a computer geek, but I also like reading, writing, cooking, music, current events and regretfully, politics.
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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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