Spiderman review by The Grim Ringler
Ya gotta hand it to Sam Raimi, the guy did the impossible he went from a no-named horror/cult movie director to the big time, directing the biggest movie of 2002. The fans loved Spiderman, the creators of the comic loved it, the critics loved it, and more than anything else, the studio loved it cause it mad them much, much richer. Who woulda thunk it? The guy that gave us Evil Deadhas now joined Hollywoods A-List. And it wasnt through smoke and mirrors, it was by making a damn good movie.
Well, a damn good summer movie. Because as good as Spiderman is, you could never say it is high art, it is American High Art, which is to say that its really well done and has something to say, but says it all in a way that the average joe will not get bored with. Hurray! But as a summer movie, it is pretty damned good. Mixing a special effects heavy concept with very good actors and a storyline that is all about responsibility and unrequited love, Raimi found a happy-medium between the effects and the story and gave us what is probably the best comic-book superhero movie made, and he did it with Tobey Maguire!!
And pop-culture movie though it may be, Spiderman is pretty sly, never dumbing down the plots bigger themes too much but never really letting them get in the way of the fun. Peter was and remains in the film an outcast, an outsider looking in (at one point literally) at the girl he loves and a world he doesnt quite fit into. Too weird, too smart, too sensitive, and too kind, Peter is the archetype for teenage angst, something creator Stan Lee had always intended, and Maguire plays Peter Parker brilliantly, letting his years of pent up rage at the world come out during his first criminal encounter as Spiderman and learning that he can now control life and death. That he, the perpetual fly on the wall is now suddenly able to control the fates of people and is now finally SOMEONE. His criminal foil is of course the Goblin, played pretty damn well by Willem DaFoe, who coulda just cashed his check and walked through this one but doesnt and turns in a very effective and layered performance as the Goblin. Not an evil man at heart but an overly ambitious man that becomes evil as a way of maintaining control of the most important thing in his life his company the Goblin is literally Frankenstein melded with his monster, a man that becomes his greatest and most awful invention and becomes a melding of both, an evil thing that hates all that are less than it or wish it ill. And a pretty damn good match for Spiderman. And to round out our pseudo-romantic triangle is Kirsten Dunst, who wins for sexiest girl in a movie hands down thanks to Sam Raimi and a scene with a heavy downpour in an alley. Did I tell you my eyes literally fell out of my head. They did. Right onto the mucky movie theater floor. It was awful. But I digress. Dunst really doesnt have a whole lot to do, look hot, play victim, be a bit sassy, and show a little character growth here and there, but thats it. But it aint easy being the damsel in distress because you dont want to make the character too wishy-washy and make her lose any empathy the audience feels. And Dunst does a good job, though its hard to believe she never really saw Peter Parker, ever, even though he sounds like he all but stalked her and was living next door to her. Sure, she didnt see him in the sense that she was always looking beyond him, but I still think its a stretch that if she was such a great gal that shed never have seen our guy Pete. Eh, maybe its a flaw in the writing, but I have a feeling its just one of those things that was never really tackled in the comics, they are pretty straightforward a lot of times and just dont get too deep into those dark corners which is a shame in this case because it would have been more interesting if MaryJane had been just a bitch that had to finally be faced with death and all that to finally see this wonderful guy that had always loved her. But what do I know?
And yes, the special effects are amazing, and really do just kick your ass if you have a good surround setup, but really, did you expect the special effects to be bad in this? I think the more interesting thing is that the struggle between Spiderman and Green Goblin never loses anything because of the special effects, the actors are good enough that they transcend the explosions and pyrotechnics, and thats the more important thing I think. And Raimi never goes overboard, trying to prove it is HIS movie dammit, and that too is a sign of a good director, that they know when to just shut up and make the damned movie.
I have to say, I am pretty disappointed with the DVD. Sure there are a couple commentaries, and the cast one is pretty cool, though a bit bland, but the FX one is just that, so yawn. But the making of featurettes are fluff and thats it. It just feels like there shoulda been more dammit! But maybe I am just bitter because I just got done with the Lord of the Rings special edition and all other DVD releases sorta pale in comparison. But the gag-reel is the usual stuff, and the only real fun I had was in watching an early screen test of Maguire in what looks like an out-take from Raimis early film Crime Wave. Oh well. At least the movie rocks.
And rock it does, there is a good reason this thing made all the money it did. Smart, funny, and a hell of a great action film, this is how all comic book characters deserve to be treated with care but also with a sense of fun. A great movie and a pretty decent DVD release, and the sound of millions of cash registers singing Hallelujah!
8 out of 10 Jackasses
IMDB Link: Spiderman
DVD Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
DVD Extras: two commentaries, making of featurettes, trailers, galleries, out-takes, DVD-Rom material, the key to Gramercy Park
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