Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, James Franco, Rosemary Harris, Cliff Robertson
and Willem Defoe
Director: Sam Raimi
Running Time: 121 mins
buy on DVD 25th November
On a High School
field trip, unpopular science-geek Peter Parker (Maguire) is accidentally
bitten by a genetically engineered super-spider while taking a picture of
his unrequited love Mary Jane Watson (Dunst) for the school paper. Feeling
unwell he heads home to his Aunt May (Harris) and his Uncle Ben (Robertson)
and straight to bed. Meanwhile at the Oscorp laboratories, chief scientist
and company founder Norman Osborn (Defoe) is under pressure to deliver a
super serum to the military that will produce the ultimate soldier. With
the threat of having his funding taken away, Osborn tests the experimental
vapour on himself. These two events unleash two new super-beings on the
unsuspecting New York public. One consumed by madness and greed, The Green
Goblin and the other, your friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man.
in thousands of comic books, a live action TV show in the 70s and four animated
series Spider-Man finally makes his movie debut in the best comic book adaptation
to hit the big screen. Never has a comic book character been so faithfully
recreated, surpassing even the benchmarks of Christopher Reeves' Superman
and Tim Burton's Batman.
Not shirking away
from the responsibility of telling the character origins in full, which
means you have to wait nearly an hour before you see Peter Parker don the
completed costume, the movie is very faithful to the ideals that Stan Lee
created in 1962. Peter Parker is still the nervous, unsure teenager whose
classmates make fun of and who, even with all his newly gained powers, is
never sure if his new calling is the right thing to do.
Tobey Maguire captures
the role perfectly. He brings a believability to the part that actors like
Leonardo DeCaprio or Ryan Phillippe, who were mentioned for the job, could
have never have bought. You could never envisage those two as the school
nerd or having trouble been noticed by the woman they adored. Willem Defoe
is as good as he always is and plays the duality of the Osborn/Goblin character
with such relish. Kirsten Dunst as Mary Jane Watson is as beautiful as ever,
but never really has much to do other than scream and look gorgeous. There
is also good support from Rosemary Harris as Aunt May, James Franco as Harry
Osborn and a scene-stealing turn from J. K. Simmons as J. Johan Jameson.
Most of the credit
has to go to director Sam Raimi however. His visual style and etherise on
character rather than all out action is the reason why the film is such
a success. The whole look of the film shows that Raimi has a real affection
for the character and the source material.
Along with all these
positives, there are a few negatives that stop the movie from being the
perfect fan-boy dream everyone hoped it would be. Firstly, some of the special
effects are abit sloppy. It looks like most of the money was spent of the
key sequences, which means some of the minor scenes look decidingly average
and even very poor in parts. The scene were Peter dons his first Spidey
costume and crawls up the wall is really bad and so obviously computer generated.
Secondly, the Green Goblin's costume is far too armour-plated and the ridged
helmet seems to restrict Willem Defoe's excellent performance in places.
Finally, Danny Elfman's score is absolutely awful. The man is the laziest
composer working in film. Ever since he produced the Batman theme in 1989,
his musical creativity has become stagnant. If you played Batman, The Simpsons,
Dick Tracy, Edward Scissorhands and the Spider-Man themes one after each
other, you'd struggle to tell the difference. I can't understand how the
man keeps getting work.
Those three grievances
aside, the movie is still the best comic book adaptation to hit the silver
screen. It's funny, exciting, scary (especially for the 12 rating), the
action sequences are spectacular and it has to be seen on the big screen.
While the people behind the film do seem to be setting up a new franchise,
giving the movie an episodic feel rather than just a stand-alone movie,
it does give you a great introduction to the Spider-Man universe.
Look out here comes
Audio: English & French 5.1 (Dolby Digital)
Subtitles: English, French & Spanish
Subtitled Factoids "Weaving the Web": Pop-On Production Notes & Historical
Commentary: Sam Raimi (director), Laura Ziskin (producer), Kirsten Dunst
& Grant Curtis (co-producer)
SFX Commentary: John Dykstra (special effects designer) & Visual Effects
Branching Web-i-sodes (access via Spider-Sense)
Marketing Campaigns: Trailers & TV Spots
Filmographies & Character Files
Music Videos: Chad Kroeger featuring Josey Scott, "Hero" & Sum 41, "What
We're All About"
DVD-ROM: Comic/Feature Comparison; Record Your Own Commentary; Countdown
to "Spider-Man 2"; Weblinks
HBO Making of "Spider-Man"
"Spider-Mania": an E! Entertainment Special
Director Profile: Sam Raimi
Composer Profile: Danny Elfman
Screen Tests: Tobey Maguire, J.K. Simmons & CGI Spider-Man
Costume and Makeup Tests
Conceptual Art & Production Design Gallery
Historical Documentary "Spider-Man:" The Mythology of the 21st Century
The "Spider-Man" Comic Book Archives
The Loves of Peter Parker
Comic Book Artist Pin-Up Gallery
Activision Game: Hints & Tips
DVD-ROM: Activision Game (two playable levels for PC); three exclusive Marvel
dot.comics ("Spider-Man:" Blue #1, Black Cat #1, & Peter Parker: Return
of the Goblin); "Spider-Man:" Visualizer