With the success of “X-Men” in 2000, Hollywood had gotten the hint that moviegoers were totally into the whole super hero movie thing. It was only a matter of time before the web slinger Spider-Man hit the big screen.
Starring Tobey Maguire as Peter Parker and Kirsten Dunst as Mary Jane Watson, “Spider-Man” works because of the strong performances of the cast. Maguire makes Peter very likable and has great chemistry with Dunst. The movie has some light and fun moments but also some great action sequences as well.
In Raimi’s film, Parker is a bit of a loser until he gets bit by a spider and develops super human strength. Of course, he fails to heed his Uncle Ben’s advice that ‘with great power comes great reponsibility’ and makes an error in judgment that leads to his uncle’s death. Fueled by guilt, Parker becomes “Spider-Man’, vowing to protect those who can’t protect themselves.
After graduating and moving to New York, the perfect place for a guy with the powers of a spider to prey on helpless and spineless criminals, Peter moves into a pad with his buddy Harry Osborn (James Franco). He pines for his childhood neighbor, Mary Jane, but can never get the nerve to ask her out.
Concurrently, Harry’s dad, Norman Osborn (Willem Dafoe), the head of Oscorp is also falling out of favor with the board of directors because he has failed to create a super soldier serum to market to the military. As a mad scientist would, Norman takes a dose, to prove the serum is ready and of course there are drastic consquences. Norman gains super strength but also super craziness and decides to get his revenge as the Green Goblin.
Thanks to mostly CGi, “Spider-Man” offers some great sequences of the web-slinger gliding through the city. Dafoe is perfect as the psychotic Green Goblin, even if the costume, a drastic departure from the comics, looks more like a Power Ranger. The heart of “Spider-Man” lies in Maguire’s honest performance as Spidey. Tobey brings a real humility to the character that helps endear him to the audience.
“Spider-Man” stays fairly true to its roots and is a lot of fun, making it one of the better comic book movie adaptations to this day.
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Spider-Man (2002) trailer: