Review Date:
Director: Sam Raimi
Writer: David Koepp
Producers: Laura Ziskin, Ian Bryce
Tobey Maguire as Peter Parker
Kirsten Dunst as Mary Jane Watson
Willem Dafoe as Norman Osborn
A shy teen nerd gets bit by a genetically-altered spider during a class trip and suddenly finds himself gaining superhero powers. He can now climb up walls, shoot webbing from his wrists and feel things oncoming with his “spider sense”. Unfortunately, he still can’t convey the secret love he has for his high school sweetie, he loses a very close member of his family and has to face down a villainous goblin who’s pissed at the world. Will Spidey kick arse? Will Spidey kiss the girl? Will Spidey make the successful transition from comic book demigod to movie star? Find out…
I’ve been waiting for this movie for as long as any other Spidey fan, and I still can’t really believe that I just caught the webcrawler on the big screen. Someone please pinch me. Owww! Okay, that was lame…but what definitely wasn’t lame, was this movie (nice segue, JoBlo…yeesh!). If you want to see Spider-Man super swinging around mid-town Manhattan…check out this flick! If you want to learn more about Peter Parker, where he comes from, what makes him tick and how he became the superhero that he is…check out this flick! If you want action, mayhem, a really nasty bad guy, awesome confrontation sequences, a booming score, an inspirational storyline and Kirsten Dunst looking as hot as ever, well, yeah…check out this flick! Alright, so you know that there are many reasons why you probably will see this movie, but did you know that there’s one very important reason why I think you should see it? Surprise, surprise…it’s the human element! Yes, that’s right…the acting, the characters, the interaction between all of the perfectly cast players in this film are believable, touching and extremely effective. In fact, don’t quote me here (okay, quote me if you want), but I even remember some spidey-tears bubbling up in my own eyes during certain scenes. Can you believe that?? Who would have thought that the romantic and family angle of one of the biggest action superhero movies of the year would crank my dial, eh? Well, believe it!

Tobey Maguire is awesome as Peter Parker and kicks plenty of bootie as the webslinging crime-fighter as well. The guy was totally made to play this part and I’ve already memorized him to brain as the little nerdo who transforms himself into…well, you know the story. He convinced me as the loser with a secret love for Mary Jane, he completely sold me as the bewildered dude who suddenly gains these amazing powers, and he thoroughly brought me on board with the tender scenes with his uncle, aunt and Mary Jane. Heck, this dude is someone I really give a shit about! He’s like me, dammit! (except for all those superhero power thingies) Seriously though, I read somewhere that director Sam Raimi connected more with Spider-Man as a youth because he seemed more “real”, more like a regular kid. And mucho kudos go out to Raimi for bringing that vision onto the big screen with extreme authority, as well as comic book appeal. Who else? Well, who’s next? Kirsten Dunst is ravishing as MJ. She’s cute, she’s sexy, she’s vulnerable, she’s conflicted…she’s everything you’d want in a babe…and more! (Raimi, allow me to electronically shake your hand for those “rainy” shots…nice!) The chemistry between the two lead actors/characters is also very palpable (word around the campfire was that the duo were dating in real-life, but you didn’t hear that dirt from me). Uncle Ben and Aunt May are also ideally cast in both Cliff Robertson and Rosemary Harris, and who would have thought that Peter’s good buddy Harry Osborne would bring yet another developed character to the forefront.

James Franco is brooding, credible, sympathetic and ultimately, quite mysterious as Harry, and I look forward to more from this guy. Another character who I can’t wait to see again, was J. Jonah Jameson, played with incredible bombast by J. K. Simmons, stealing every one of his scenes. He cracked the audience up every chance that he got and I can’t believe how much they actually got him to look like the real Jonah from the comic book (note how I refer to a comic book character as “real”…I think I’m starting to lose it). As for Willem Dafoe, who plays Franco’s father in the film, and the role of villain Green Goblin…well, I thought that he played the part really well, but I have to admit that the character’s motivation wasn’t as convincing as everything else in the film. It’s also to note that I completely abhor, and actually found to be quite distracting, the plastic mask and suit that he wore throughout (it was never really explained either). Now I’m not suggesting that I could have recommended anything better, but for me, it just didn’t work (whenever the Goblin started shouting anything, I would just think “I’m looking at a plastic mask”). But it wasn’t the end of the world since the action scenes were quite fun and outrageous nonetheless, especially the final mano-a-mano scenario between the Goblin and Spidey, during which many a powerful blow were exchanged between the two “supermen”, and edge-of-your-seat moments were a plenty. As for the Spider-Man CGI sequences…did I buy them? Well, yes and no. For the most part, I wasn’t too aware of the CGI, especially during the “smaller” action shots, but I have to admit that things did look a little “phony” from time to time, a little computerized here and there, but what can you do…it’s the movies!

As you can see, I did have some very minor issues with the film, but that should be even more reason to see it, since I still believe it to be one of the best of the year so far, with plenty of entertainment value, plenty of good-hearted moments, an extremely credible romance angle, ideal casting, a super-cool score by the always-cool Danny Elfman, a slick opening credit sequence (think webs!!) and a non-Hollywood ending that totally worked for me! Basically, if you’re looking for an all-around good time at the movies, grab a friend, grab some popcorn…and yeah, you can even grab your girl and go see this movie!! It’s Spider-Man, dammit…nuff said!

(c) 2021 Berge Garabedian