Cert: 12 A Runtime: 121 mins Director: Sam Raimi Starring: Tobey Maguire, James Franco, Kirsten Dunst and Willem Defoe
Not everyone is meant to make a difference. But for me, the choice to lead an ordinary life is no longer an option
Well The Amazing Spider-Man will be hitting the big screen next week, so I thought we could re-enter the world of the Tobey Maguire Spider-Man. Based on Marvel Comics’ superhero character, this is a story of Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) who is a nerdy high-schooler. He was orphaned as a child, bullied by jocks, and can’t confess his crush for his stunning neighborhood girl Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst). To say his life is “miserable” is an understatement. But one day while on an excursion to a laboratory a runaway radioactive spider bites him… and his life changes in a way no one could have imagined. Peter acquires a muscle-bound physique, clear vision, ability to cling to surfaces and crawl over walls, shooting webs from his wrist … but the fun isn’t going to last. An eccentric millionaire Norman Osborn (Willem Defoe) administers a performance enhancing drug on himself and his maniacal alter ego Green Goblin emerges. Now Peter Parker has to become Spider-Man and take Green Goblin to the task… or else Goblin will kill him. They come face to face and the war begins in which only one of them will survive at the end.
Delivering nearly all the blockbuster potential it held, Spider-Man burst onto the public consciousness in 2002, surpassing even the most generous sales expectation to become one of modern cinemas highest grossing films. Basically a catalyst behind the never ending glut of comic book franchises today, the movie proved to be an extremely agreeable update of essentially the same qualities which made Superman just as endearing in the old days. Borrowing a little heavily from that prototype, as is the original Stan Lee based comic, lies the same geeky alter ego who works at a newspaper while pursuing crime and the girl he loves in secret. Nothing really strays too far from that quintessential superhero lore, but if anything, puts it all in one very entertaining and accessible package for all shapes and sizes to enjoy.Part of the winning strategy behind this success story was the smart idea of putting veteran gore hound Sam Raimi on the case. Raimi was a fixture with 80’s cult horror, providing the wonderfully crazed Evil Dead series amongst other demented fare. Having graduated with flying colors from the clutches of low budget horror, Raimi went on to direct more standard Hollywood fare, but it was the great stroke of casting him as director of this franchise that really made him a household name to middle America. Whoever knew that Raimi would be the right man for the job must have known what they were doing, for there was hardly a hint he would be capable of sustaining this kid-friendly, adult-entertaining film while retaining the integrity of the original comic books which it’s based upon, though after a few frames of this easy to swallow comic adventure it becomes clear he was ideal. Raimi walks a fine line between Marvel geekdom and general audience appeasement, crafting a balanced piece of work that should appeal to a surprisingly large and varied demographic.
The action is intense but bloodless, conveying the painful struggles Spider-Man endures facing his enemies, but never making the violence mean spirited so a younger crowd may enjoy as well. The much touted CGI effects still retain a wondrous sense of physicality ten years later, articulating the most romanticized superhero homage since the original man of steel whenever the camera takes flight with Peter Parker. Spidey himself could not have been better cast; Tobey Maguire silenced nearly all critics with his powerfully introverted but accessible performance, filling out plenty of shiny sequences with a greater sense of depth then the genre usually provides. J.K. Simmons offers some wonderfully crafted comic relief in a brief supporting role, but Willem Dafoe oversteps a cartoonish boundary when portraying murderous alter-ego Green Goblin.All in all, a triumphant accomplishment for this team, worthy of the big interest it initially received due to Raimi’s winning approach. Spider-Man still suffers from many of your typical Hollywood clichés, especially if one still holds the fossilized Superman franchise in high regard, but there seems to be enough passion coming from nearly all involved to take the crown as current champ of superhero productions.