Sunday, 29 April 2007

Spider-Man (2002) movie review ★★★★★★★★☆☆

Spider-Man (2002) logo
★★★★★ ★★★☆☆
It is good, but it is never great. Willem Dafoe is outstanding when not hidden behind a really poor mask, Maguire is fine and Raimi directs with assured pace.
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Peter Parker is a slightly awkward normal teenager but when he gets bitten by a genetically-enhanced spider during a class field-trip he develops the super-human abilities that make him a Spider-Man.

◦ Tobey Maguire: Spider-Man / Peter Parker
◦ Willem Dafoe: Green Goblin / Norman Osborn
◦ Kirsten Dunst: Mary Jane Watson
◦ James Franco: Harry Osborn
◦ Cliff Robertson: Ben Parker
◦ Rosemary Harris: May Parker
◦ J.K. Simmons: J. Jonah Jameson
• Writer (Original Comic) Marvel: Stan Lee
• Writer (Original Comic) Marvel: Steve Ditko
• Writer (Screenplay): David Koepp
• Director: Sam Raimi

Mild swear words. Extreme violence, unpleasant scenes. Mild sensuality
Classified 12A by BBFC. Persons under the age of 12 must be accompanied by an adult..
Classified 12 by BBFC. Suitable only for persons of 12 years and over.

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"With great power comes great responsibility"

Director Sam Raimi must have had this thought, repeated multiple times in David Koepp's script, running through his mind over and over as he was given the power to take a much-loved comic-book hero to the big-screen.

Thanks to the success of Bryan Singer's "X-Men" comic book heroes have come back into fashion. Sony entrusted Raimi with a budget like nothing he had received before (even relatively expensive movies such as "Darkman" and "The Quick and the Dead" were very reasonably budgeted). His main technical obstacle was the obviously super-human activities of web-slinging and walking up walls and hanging from ceilings. His main directorial challenge would be to suspend the audience's disbelief. How did he do?

Unfortunately, he appears to stumble at the first hurdle. The opening credits sequence is unimaginative and dull, but the biggest mistake was using a theme obviously composed by Danny Elfman. The reason this is a mistake is because it is highly reminiscent of Elfman's career-best work on Tim Burton's classic super-hero movie "Batman" which also featured a brilliant, moody, innovative and completely classy opening credits sequence. Anyone who has seen [Batman] before this movie will sub-consciously be reminded of that classic.

This sense of déja vu happens on numerous occasions. We get multiple Batman moments and at least one Superman moment. The movie doesn't feel original or new. It feels like it never shows us something we haven't seen before. This is despite the fact that we have never seen (in live action, at least) a man swinging through buildings on web strands.

This sounds very critical but I should now reaffirm that the movie is indeed good, very good. Unlike most of the films it is reminiscent of (and its main summer 2002 competition "Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones": Yoda rocks!), this film never has a really great moment. The best thing about Spiderman is Willem Dafoe. His performance as Norman Osborne and The Green Goblin is truly outstanding mixing villainy and humanity with extreme skill. The Thanksgiving dinner he has with Peter, Aunt May, his son and Mary-Jane is just spectacular.

Also the comment regarding Elfman's music may come over as too harsh. After the credit sequence, Elfman does much better and manages to come up with a good Spider-Man theme used at critical moments in the movie to terrific effect.

Swinging :)

  • Brilliantly paced

  • Willem Dafoe

  • Decent story and characterisation

Sticky Mess :(

  • Visual effects are not too good until the final (breathtaking) shot

  • Sound design is surprisingly flat

  • Green Goblin has a rubbish mask which hides Willem Dafoe's mug (a big mistake)

  • Two more falling-while-shooting-a-rope-of-safety-skyward superhero rescues, I was fed up with them before the climax of "Batman Forever" (which, incidentally, is completely repeated here)

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