ARROW IN THE HEAD REVIEWS

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Spider-Man (2002)
Written by: The Arrow
Director: Sam Raimi

Starring:
Tobey Maguire/Peter
Willem Dafoe/Osborn
James Franco/Harry
Kirsten Dunst/Mary Jane
PLOT-CRUNCH
Based on the very popular Marvel comic book, this flick introduces us to insecure Peter Parker (Maguire) and tags us along as he eventually becomes Spider-Man, deals with his longing love for cleavage-heavy Mary Jane (Dunst) and dukes it out with rich scientist turned hyper pissed off flying madman, Norman Osborn aka The Green Goblin (Dafoe). It’s finally here! Yippee!! {Arrow sings} Slings a web, anytime, catches thieves just like flies, here comes the Spider-Man!!!!
THE LOWDOWN
Let's all give horror king Sam Raimi a big round of applause, a couple of hard drinks and some high class hookers for finally slapping one of the world’s most adored comic book heroes on to the big screen and actually pulling it off! Yeah!! As a big fan of the Spider-Man comics, cartoons and yes...even the tacky live TV show, I’ve been waiting for what seems like three lifetimes to see good old web-slinger take over the big screen. Well, the wait is finally over and it was well worth the agony.

What makes this movie more gripping than the usual comic adaptation is that it really taps into the human aspects of its story and characters. Peter Parker (Maguire) is a fully fleshed out, shy young teenager and we’re given the time to get to really know him, grow fond of him and imminently, see him evolve as a human being through tragedy. The same can be said about his many relationships which are all given the proper screen time. The love that he has for Mary Jane (Dunst) is mucho developed and will have your girlfriend wanting to see the movie again (chicks will go nuts for that angle). As per the initial voice-over of the film: "This, like any tale worth telling, is about a girl." That’s quite a ballsy move for a superhero film. Usually the lovey-dovey stuff is kept in the background, here it’s definitely the key ingredient and it’s treated in an honest and touching manner.

Peter’s other relationships are also mostly well-handled. I bought his friendship with enigmatic king brooder Harry Osborn (Franco), enjoyed what he shared with Uncle Ben (Cliff Robertson) and Aunt May (Rosemary Harris) and dug his back and forth with Jonas Jameson (played to a T by the hilarious J.K. Simmons). The only relationship I wish had more meat to it was the one between Peter and Norman Osborn (Dafoe). I didn’t get the sense that the latter was his inspiration/mentor when it came to being a scientist. It’s obvious to me that the film was going for an interesting contrast: Friends through common interests in their everyday lives versus being foes in their super human lives. That kool take on their connection didn’t shine through fully. On the other hand, going into that aspect on a deeper level would’ve upset the balance and pace of the film. So I forgave the picture for that easily.

Now in terms of staying true to the comic, this cinematic adaptation does a bang-on job for the most part. The radioactive spider bite, the wrestling match (Macho Man and Bruce Campbell in one scene…can you go wrong?), the fate of uncle Ben and the turnaround Peter goes through after the sad event are straight out of the comic. Even bully Flash Thompson shows up! We do get a few variations though. For one, Spidey’s web-shooters are no longer tinker toys that Peter created but a result of his mutation (that was James Cameron’s idea when he was originally attached to the project). That new spin on the web-shooters actually made more sense to me and in a rare moment in cinematic history, actually bettered its source material. Which brings me to the only other significant change from the comic: the Green Goblin get-up. To put it bluntly: I hated it! It just looked like a lam-o plastic suit to me and it didn’t emanate the menace, the creepy feel or the Halloween seasonal-like vibe that the Green Goblin put out in the comic. I’ve always perceived the Green Goblin as a frightening nemesis and unfortunately, that didn’t translate to the screen. And where did he get that costume anyway? K-Mart? It’s never explained.

But the failed Goblin design didn’t come close to ruining the overall, exhilarating Spider-Man experience. Apart from the human elements, the astounding special effects are for the most part on the money. Sure, some of the CGI looked like CGI but the pros outweighed the cons. I felt like a kid watching Web-Head climb walls, leap off tall buildings and web sling his way through the city. Thank you CGI for making it all happen! What a hoot and a half! And to top it all off, this baby is also filled to the brim with edge-of-your-seat fight/stunt sequences that blew my freaking mind to “Kingdom Come!” We get it all dudes and dudettes!! Spider-Man ain't playing, no more! HE BE SPINNING FOR REAL!
GORE
Not much of that but Spider-Man does get cut and the Green Goblin is one ugly piece of plastic.
ACTING
Tobey Maguire (Peter) is perfect as Peter Parker. He competently communicates every emotional plateau his character goes through and delivers a very likeable character. Willem Dafoe (Osborn) excels at these kind of parts and I for one think he did a wonderful job without ever falling into the “over the top” pit of bad acting. Great stuff, bud! In the comics, Harry Osborn is kind of geeky looking and they went the total opposite way by casting James Franco (Harry). The man is good looking, keeps it low key and broods with the best of them. Can’t wait to see where they take his character in the sequel. Kirsten Dunst (Mary Jane) is pretty and charming as usual. She comes through and so does her wet t-shirt. J.K Simmons (Jameson) is Jonas Jameson right down to the haircut and the endless yelling. He made me laugh more than once. WHAT AN AMAZING CAST!
T & A
Kirsten Dunst is all about showing off cleavage in this flick. Wait till you get to that scene where it’s raining. Talk about nipple action! The ladies get a pumped up Tobey Maguire showing off his pecks. Talk about nipple action! He he he…
DIRECTING
Although more restrained than usual, Raimi’s trademark style still popped up a few times. The kool shot compositions, slick slow-motion and well-shot fight sequences made this one a delight for me. Raimi knows when to hold back to serve the characters and when to "pad it up" for the visuals. Our little boy is all growns up…sniff…
SOUNDTRACK
Danny Elfman delivers an engaging and varied score that ups the excitement of the images which it backs. I gotta get that score! IT ROCKS!
DVD FEATURES
SPIDER-MAN SUPERBIT (released June 1, 2004)

IMAGE: We get a 1.85:1 widescreen anamorphic image

SOUND: We get English DTS and English Dolby Digital 5.1 sound options. The subtitles at hand were: English, Spanish, French, Chinese, Korean, Portuguese and Thai.

EXTRAS: Superbit DVDs usually don’t come with any extras since the whole of the disc is used to amplify its video and audio quality. Here, we get an exception with a Tobey Maguire and JK Simmons Audio Commentary. Sadly, the commentary itself was somewhat dull with too much dead time, McGuire hogging all the speaking space and obviously not putting his heart into it. Sure, we’re treated to some interesting trivia, but personally, I couldn’t finish listening to it. Who knows...maybe you will.
BOTTOM LINE
Along with " Superman: The Movie" (I love that damn movie), this has got to be my favorite "comic book hero slapped on-screen" offering". It stays true to the comic from which it spawned, the cast is beyond awesome, the action is highly engaging, the love story genuinely touching and the directing is all about those crazy ass Raimi shots we all love. What else do ya want? No, I’m serious…WHAT ELSE DO YOU WANT? Sure, the Goblin ain't all that but if like me, you’re able to let that slide, you’ll have a web-slinging jamboree of fun. I’m already looking forward to the sequel and again I say: LET'S ALL APPLAUD SAM “THE HOMBRE” RAIMI! YEAHHHH! The drinks are on the house!
BULL'S EYE
Is it I or did the first Green Goblin attack remind anyone of the Joker attack in "Batman" with all those balloons?

Did you catch Sam Raimi’s 1973 Oldsmobile Delta 88 that he likes to slap in all of his films?

John Malkovich and Nic Cage were both initially offered the role of the Green Goblin.

James Franco auditioned for Peter and got Harry instead.
Strikeback
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1:41PM on 06/13/2009
After revisiting Spider-Man after a few years I still adore it. It came out at the perfect time in my life and I fell in love with it. Aside from a few dated effects, some annoying product placment and Macy Gray making an appearence this is a perfect film. Really. Its got the characters, the heart and the action while maintaining the feel of the comic perfectly.
After revisiting Spider-Man after a few years I still adore it. It came out at the perfect time in my life and I fell in love with it. Aside from a few dated effects, some annoying product placment and Macy Gray making an appearence this is a perfect film. Really. Its got the characters, the heart and the action while maintaining the feel of the comic perfectly.
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1:14PM on 02/01/2006

Arrow Hits Spot

Tobey Maguire is superb as Spider Man! I read Roger Ebert's review of the movie, and just couldn't disagree with him more. He thinks Peter Parker wasn't amazed enough at his new powers, etc., and that the roof hopping scenes were straight out of a comic book. Well, they WERE straight out of a comic book - isn't that the point? Arrow hits it dead on regarding Kirsten Dunst. Heck, I fell in love with her watching the movie. Dafoe as the Goblin was fun to watch, I just wish they had given
Tobey Maguire is superb as Spider Man! I read Roger Ebert's review of the movie, and just couldn't disagree with him more. He thinks Peter Parker wasn't amazed enough at his new powers, etc., and that the roof hopping scenes were straight out of a comic book. Well, they WERE straight out of a comic book - isn't that the point? Arrow hits it dead on regarding Kirsten Dunst. Heck, I fell in love with her watching the movie. Dafoe as the Goblin was fun to watch, I just wish they had given him more to work with. Anyway, great flick and thumbs up for Arrow and thumbs down, way down, for Ebert.
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