Movie Review: Spider-Man (2002)

With “Spider-Man: Far From Home” getting released in July, I thought I would give the Raimi-directed “Spider-Man” movies a little rewatch/review. I mean, it’s been years since the last time I saw them, so now is a good a time as any to see if they hold up. So here we go with part 1.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Spider-Man”.

After he gets bitten by a genetically modified spider, high school student Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) starts developing spider-like powers. And he soon has to put them to good use when a crazed villain (Willem Dafoe) starts terrorizing New York. We had gotten a few superhero origins before this, but this really set the standard for how it’s done. Even in movies later on, let’s say “Iron Man” as an example, trace amounts of this movie can be found in the way the origin is done there. So yeah, the plot here is handled well. Not saying it’s perfect. It does have a few minor pacing issues at points, but there’s nothing that completely ruins the experience for me. It is still mostly well paced, with plenty of nuance and a decent exploration of the “Great power, great responsibility” theme. It’s fun, it’s clever, it’s emotional, it’s a good “Spider-Man” origin.

The characters in this are colorful, charming, layered, and overall interesting. Tobey Maguire plays Peter Parker/Spider-Man. He’s a little shy, a little awkward, but also clever, good-hearted, and a fairly relatable character. Seeing his journey from that dork that everyone picks on to a hero is quite fascinating. And Maguire is really good in the role. Kirsten Dunst plays Mary-Jane Watson, Peter’s neighbor and crush. A beautiful young woman with a bad home life, but a good heart. Seeing her and how she is affected by Peter’s life/she affects him is an interesting part of the whole story. And Dunst is really good in the role. Next we have Willem Dafoe as Norman Osborn/The Green Goblin. He’s something of a scientist and tries to develop tech that can help the military… but things go a little… awry. Seeing his duality throughout the movie is endlessly entertaining, and Dafoe is the perfect blend of intimidating, emotionally investing, and hammy in the role. We also get supporting work from people like Rosemary Harris, Cliff Robertson, James Franco, J.K. Simmons (the best), and more, all doing well in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Danny Elfman, and I have nothing bad to say about it. It’s epic, emotional, sweeping, and balances heroics with smaller stuff, making for one of the most iconic and enjoyable scores in the last 20 years. Seriously still great.

As mentioned in the opening of this review, “Spider-Man” (based on the Marvel character created by Stan Lee & Steve Ditko) was directed by Sam Raimi, and I think he did a great job with it. He has a unique sort of energy that makes the movie a whole lot of fun to watch. He also uses a lot of fun camera movements to give the movie a unique look that feels very much in line with the character of Spider-Man. This also translates to the action scenes, which are a lot of fun and are even surprisingly brutal at times. However, to add a negative into all this positivity, there are a lot of effects that don’t hold up. Those are CGI stuff that very much haven’t aged well. It’s not a total deal-breaker, but it is distracting enough to bring the score down a little bit.

This movie has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 90% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 73/100. Roger Ebert gave it 2,5/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,3/10. It got 2 Oscar nominations in the categories of Best Sound and Best Visual Effects.

While there are aspects of it that has aged a fair bit, “Spider-Man” is still a damn fine superhero movie. It has a good plot, good characters, great performances, great music, and great directing/action. What brings it down a bit for me are the occasional pacing issues and often wonky CGI effects. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Spider-Man” is an 8,89/10. So while flawed, it’s still worth buying.

My review of “Spider-Man” is now completed.

Two more to go. *thwip*.

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