♫ Spiderman! ♫ Spiderman! ♫ Does everything a spider can ♫! Just to get things started, the Spiderman costume was awful, the special effects amongst the worse ever seen on the silver screen and the plot is nothing more than a contrived generic good versus evil context. Only the acting ability of Nicholas Hammond, as Spiderman, shows any calibre of decency - unfortunately not when playing the double-identity dilemma. Hang on a minute...are we not in 1977? You mean there's a new Spiderman film out now? Well, that was a well-kept secret; they should have published that fact a bit more.
There have been few films with the anticipation levels of Spiderman. After numerous court cases and legal ramblings, the film has finally made it to the silver screen. Thankfully it's reached there in the hands of Sam Raimi who had two important qualities; he's a great director and secondly he's a self-proclaimed Spiderman fan. In his hands the film is pretty good - not brilliant - but good, especially as a set-up film that should spawn a franchise.
For anyone who has recently returned from the moon, the premise of Spiderman; Peter Parker is a geek. Fact. He's tormented at school and is in love with Mary Jane (no, not that Mary Jane - we're talking about a girl. Although having a stoned Spiderman could be very cool "Go on Spidey, your turn to get the munchies in and be quick with it"). He lives with his Uncle Ben (not the rice manufacturer) and his Aunt May.
One day while on a field trip to a museum, Peter gets bitten by a genetically-altered spider. After making it home, he collapses and feels a transformation beginning. Meanwhile industrialist Norman Osborn is having problems of his own. His company is on the verge of losing a military contract to a rival. In a desperate bid to advance trails on a performance-enhancing drug, he becomes a human guinea pig. Unfortunately there are a few side effects to gaining super strength, the key one being insanity. After stealing his company's prototype glider and armoured suit he becomes The Green Goblin.
Peter awakes the next day and notices a few changes. He no longer needs glasses, has chiselled muscles, is faster and stronger than ever possible and can detect things around him. Other changes include the ability to climb up walls and shoot webbing from his wrists. After discovering his abilities, he decides to enter a wrestling match to earn enough money to buy a car (to impress MJ). Unfortunately, due to inadvertent circumstances after the wrestling match, Uncle Ben is killed. For Peter the tragedy is much more painful as he could have prevented his Uncle’s death.
As a result Peter Parker reinvents himself as Spiderman – dedicated to helping people and fighting crime. Unfortunately this soon leads him into the path of the Green Goblin, whose madness has caused him to kill and cause mayhem.
So, by taking a freelance photographers job at The Daily Bugle and also masquerading as Spiderman, Peter has his hands full. On top of that, his best friend, Harry, is dating Mary Jane.
To add to his problems, The Daily Bugle, under the editorial skills of J. Jonah Jameson, has started a cry for the arrest of the menace that is Spiderman. The Green Goblin seizes this opportunity and offers Spiderman a partnership in crime. When Spiderman turns him down, he targets Spiderman’s only weaknesses – his Aunt May and Mary Jane.
Let’s start with the acting – every is pretty good with the exception of Peter’s best friend Harry, played by James Franco, and dare I say it, Kirsten Dunst as Mary Jane. Franco is boring to watch and comes across as a reject from a soap opera. Kirsten Dunst plays MJ as some sort of trailer park reject and is quite annoying. Toby Maguire is good as Peter, especially when discovering his powers and J. K. Simmons as J. Jonah Jameson is right on the ball. William Dafoe is wasted as The Green Goblin due to having to wear a silly mask, but is riveting when playing Norman Osborne.
Starting with the bad points. With more than an hour setting up the main characters, and their respective super powers, the remainder of the film feels rushed. It could have had a lot more ‘Spidey’ moments. There’s just too much to cram into one film. Also for a huge budgeted film there are a surprisingly large amount of mistakes. The microphone boom popped in a few time. Other mistakes include; when Peter discovers his webbing in his room, he smashes a lamp that appears seconds later intact and during the rain attack scene on Mary Jane, her coat miraculously falls off her in a split second (mind you that’s the only way they could have the infamous ‘wet nipple’ shot seen in the trailer, so we’ll let them off!!).
The CGI in the beginning is awful – especially Peter running along the rooftops as himself. When he dons the Spiderman suit and starts swing, then the CGI effects are truly stunning with great camera work zooming in and around him.
The biggest problem however is with the costume of the Green Goblin. He looks like a reject from The Mighty Morphing Power Rangers. They should have lost the mask and had a prosthetic Goblin face on Dafoe, which would have make him a lot more menacing.
Enough negatives. On the plus side of things, the film’s climactic battle is great and the effects during Spiderman versus Goblin fights are cracking. Some of the dialogue is corny (“It’s you who’s out, Gobby – out of your mind”), but this is expected for a comic book fare. The film feels a lot like The X-Men film, as both films are great for setting up a franchise. With the sequel already planned, and without having to set up the characters, the second film can go right in full effect from the start.
Comic book purists are already up in arms to the fact that Spiderman has organic web slingers, instead of Peter building his own mechanical ones, as in the comics. To these people – GET A LIFE!!!!!
Overall, a good first film for what could be a great franchise. This film raises the bar for Ang Lee’s forthcoming The Hulk movie next year. Exciting and with some of the best CGI (and worse), Spiderman is definitely here to stay. Just keep Joel ‘I-Killed-The-Batman-Franchise’ Schumacher away from it.
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