Monday, November 23, 2009


Spider-Man; Fantasy, USA, 2002; D: Sam Raimi, S: Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, Willem Dafoe, James Franco, Rosemary Harris, J.K. Simmons

New York. Peter Parker is a clumsy and unpopular teenager living with his uncle and aunt, whereas he is in love with Mary Jane from the neighborhood. He gets bitten by a mutated spider in a museum and, as a consequence, gets the powers of climbing up the walls, strength and throwing spider's web. When a burglar kills his uncle, Peter becomes Spider-Man and decides to fight against evil. Meanwhile, scientist Norman becomes the Green Goblin after getting fired and wants to take revenge on his colleagues, while his son Harry is also in love with Mary Jane. In a duel, Goblin throws his glider at Spider-Man, but dies himself from it. Mary falls for Peter, while Harry swears for revenge.

Back in '77, a low budget live action TV show about Spider-Man was made, an embarrassing experiment where the hero was fighting against the mafia (!), but the expensive movie version made for the big screen 25 years later isn't that much better either, except for the high production costs. Unfortunately, Sam Raimi's "Spider-Man" is one long introduction to the series, and as such seems very stiff in forcefully setting up the beginning of the story. Some action sequences are spectacular (in one, Spider-Man uses his web to swing from a skyscraper down the road while the camera is following him), yet on the other hand many situations are unconvincing and naive - for instance, Peter tries his luck as a wrestler and let's some burglar run away. But when that same burglar kills his uncle, he also sees his face behind the Spider-Man mask. Of course, the authors "kept" the hero's identity and his honor clean by having the burglar conveniently trip down a pipe and fall out of the window, dying. Tobey Maguire, on the other hand, is surprisingly good as Peter, and Willem Dafoe is also great as the villain. Raimi's direction was predictably "numbed down" by the big budget since the producers wanted to play it safe, yet he still managed to insert solid details about growing up and some ironic references to "Superman", like when Peter takes his shirt off like Clark Kent, or when his aunt tells him: "You work too much. You're not Superman, you know".


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