Released in 2002, this movie is the first big film appearance of the famous web-crawler. Now I don’t believe I need to explain the plot of the movie since everyone knows the origin of Spider-Man.
For starters, Spider-Man is my favorite superhero of all time. I love the character, the costume, his iconic villains, his powers, etc. I love it all, especially as a kid growing up. This is a movie I had so much nostalgia while watching this on VHS, for I would watch it so much the VHS itself would get staticky from too many viewing sessions. This is a movie I thought was the greatest. But now in the present, it is not as amazing as it was in my childhood. But that doesn’t mean I still wasn’t entertained at all, far from it.
The characters in this movie I thought they were all good. All of them give really good performances throughout.
Tobey Maguire I believe is a great Peter Parker. As he portrays the nerdy, awkward, and outcast type of character very well. I could personally relate as I too can be awkward in the public eye and not be very talkative. But when it comes to putting on the mask and becoming the superhero, it’s a little mixed. As Spider-Man, he doesn’t deliver a whole lot of quips or one-liners as from the comics. But when he does deliver them, they are pretty funny.
In terms of the Spider-Man suit used here, I like it, but it is a shame that the front/back logos are completely overshadowed by the suit logos used in the sequel. In my opinion, these logos from the first film are the best out of the Raimi Trilogy.
Willem Dafoe as the villain of the movie, the Green Goblin, was so fun to watch. Even though the suit itself is pretty bad, I think the performance, for the most part, overcomes it. One could tell that Dafoe is truly enjoying the role he is in and he is having so much with it as the movie moves forward.
J. K. Simmons as J. Jonah Jameson is absolutely perfect. His performance is my favorite out of the whole movie. This is J. Jonah Jameson brought to the big screen. I wish there were way more scenes of him. A+++
In terms of casting, I thought everyone was casted great. Cliff Robertson and Rosemary Harris as both Ben and May Parker were really good in the film. Cliff Robertson saying those famous words “With Great Power, comes Great Responsibility,” really hits home with me as something special.
The music is composed by the great Danny Elfman and he delivers such an iconic theme with this movie. It’s a theme that instantly recognizable and it worked hand in hand with the awesome opening credits, which was a classic. The other musical themes in this movie are also top-notch. There was also of course “Hero” which was performed by the band Nickelback. Which is pretty bad, but nonetheless it is a guilty pleasure for me.
The cinematography was very nice and appropriate for a film like this where Spider-Man is swinging in the city. The camera is always right beside him. It’s not all shaky cam, it’s very smooth allowing the viewer to be immersed in the immense size of the Big Apple environment.
The pacing of the movie I thought was good, especially with Peter Parker’s transition to Spider-Man. The movie gives enough time to show Peter develop his web abilities and how he handles with it. There were the infamous scenes where Peter is climbing up a wall for the first time, forming his first web, him swinging onto buildings for the first time; all of this was very enjoyable to watch. There is, of course, the wrestling scene with Randy Savage which was very cool.
Now when it comes to the action, it was all fine and executed nicely, but I feel this movie needed more of it. The movie needed more and it needed to push some boundaries to make certain scenes very cool. Instead, pretty much all of the actions were pretty standard.
Going back to characters, like I mentioned everyone was casted great and they do give pretty good performances. But that’s not to say there were some stinkers. This works very well with the character of Mary Jane Watson played by Kirsten Dunst. She pretty much plays the hot girl next door role and the typical damsel in distress. This is a role that will, unfortunately, be pretty prominent in the next two movies. There is also Harry Osborn played by James Franco who is there to be either the supportive best friend for Peter or be the jealous friend when Peter/MJ are starting a relationship.
The effects in the movie, a vast majority is not good and doesn’t hold up at all to today’s standards. It all looks like it was pulled from a video game. For example, whenever we see the cool scenes of Spider-Man swinging around or doing other cool Spidey stuff, he feels very weightless and rubbery. But I don’t want to bash it too much since this is 2002 I’m talking about. There is one scene where Peter’s Spidey sense activates in the school hallway. Him getting a “sense” of the world around him was really cool.
Though I did say the pace was good, I do feel it was fast and slow at times. The film being fast-pace didn’t allow for proper character development or not enough of it. The movie doesn’t allow time to get fully enveloped into Peter’s life at home with his Aunt/Uncle. There are only about three scenes with Peter’s entrance as a photographer in the Daily Bugle. The film being slow-paced doesn’t work at all with the scenes where Peter and MJ are talking.
Speaking of talking, the dialogue in this film is one of my major complaints. The dialogue can range from good to just plain cringy. The scenes of Peter/MJ talking are kind of hard to watch. Even as a kid I thought it was unpleasant, I just wanted to get back into the flow of the movie. Other than these scenes, the dialogue can be really cheesy at points. To a point where the movie does, in fact, feel like a comic book. Which is good for the filmmakers’ point of view, but I don’t think it translated that well up on the big screen. It just makes the whole movie ridiculous.
But granted I do like how the movie doesn’t take itself too seriously all the time. This is an all around very fun and thoroughly entertaining movie from beginning to end.
It is kind of pointless of saying this since I’m pretty sure everyone has seen it, but if you haven’t it, give it a watch as you will not be disappointed. It is a pretty good superhero origin movie and a good Spider-Man adaptation. I was considering giving this movie a higher grade, but I can’t let my fond nostalgia of this movie as a kid overwhelm me. I need to look at this as a movie and keep those memories away. But not away forever, like I said I watched this movie a lot back then and loved every moment. Those are memories I will cherish for a long time.
With that said, Rest In Peace Stan Lee. Your legacy will be remembered. Also, Rest In Peace Steve Ditko. It is a damn shame you didn’t get as much recognition as Stan this year, but you deserve the same amount of respect to. Finally, Rest In Peace Jack Kirby. Thank you for initiating the first, granted silly, attempt of creating such an iconic and pop culture character.