Review: Spider-Man (2002)

spidey

My second favorite hero of all time comes to the big screen, I’ll let you guess who’s my #1 of all time!

Screenplay By: David Koepp
Directed By: Sam Raimi

I can watch any number of adapted movies and not think twice about the source material. With Spider-Man I have a little more difficulty in that area. I don’t judge the movie against the comics, but as I watched the movie I had a hard time deciphering whether I was simply taking the movie in or if my knowledge of the source material was enhancing the story in certain areas. For instance, I do believe the movie does an adequate job of exploring the idea of Peter needing to learn responsibility and that becoming his driving force for being a hero. At the same time I can’t help but wonder if my exposure to the comics over the years adds more depth to “with great power comes great responsibility” motif. In the end I don’t know with Spider-Man where the comics end and the movie truly begins, but that’s not a bad problem to have, I don’t think.

There is a cool factor to Spider-Man, it’s cool in its look, the opening credits get the ball rolling in that department, but it’s cool in a lot of other ways. For those of us who were never among the popular bunch in life it’s cool because we can relate to Peter Parker and seeing him become this strong superhero is unbelievably cool. The movie is cool in its casting, I loved the inclusion of Randy Savage as the wrestler and any Stan lee appearance is always awesome. Frankly, it’s cool for the simple fact that I am seeing Spider-Man swinging across my screen, and not in animated form.

While Spider-Man isn’t a very deep picture, it touches on surface ideas that are always associated with Spider-Man, power, responsibility, love, still being a dork even when you are a hero, etc.. But, Spider-Man isn’t meant to be a deep film, it’s meant to be a fun romp and that’s exactly what it is. Spider-Man is alive on my screen and that is a lot of fun, he swings from rooftops, he battles the Green Goblin, Mary Jane has been made flesh, I could go on, but the point is that Spider-Man is a whole lot of fun, in its action and in the little things that the comic geek in me picks out.

That’s not to say that Spider-Man is a perfect movie, it most certainly isn’t. Some of the visual cues are too obvious, some moments are heavily contrived, and the motives for Norman Osborne to become the Goblin never feel real. None of this compares to the taking me out of the movie moment that is the New Yorkers rallying around Spider-Man as he fights the Goblin on the bridge near the end. Their dialogue was cringe worthy bad, luckily they aren’t focused on for that long. Also, it is true that at times the CGI is too obviously CGI, but I never had a real problem with that, even at its worst it was still acceptable.

J. Jonah Jameson steals every scene he is in, Kirsten Dunst is actually good, Tobey Maguire has both Peter Parker and Spider-Man down pat, and I had a great time watching this movie. Serious superhero films are great, as we will see when we get to Spider-Man 2, but superhero movies don’t have to be serious (not all incarnations of comics are serious, even if a lot of comic fans don’t want to admit that). I have just as much time in my comic movie watching life for fun superhero yarns as a I do deathly serious superhero dramas. Spider-Man is a lot of fun, it’s the type of fun anyone should be able to appreciate, but Macy Gray, ugh!

Rating:

***

Cheers,
Bill

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2 responses to “Review: Spider-Man (2002)

  1. I have a great time watching this movie (I’ve seen 3 times and own it on DVD) and I rarely, if ever, read Spider-Man comics (I read a little bit of Batman and X-Men). So, as opposed to you, I went in pretty much cold and still thought the movie did a wonderful job at fleshing out the characters and showing us the world of Spider-Man. In fact, I want to watch it again right now!

    On a somewhat similar topic, where would you suggest I go if I wanted to explore some of the Spider-Man comics? Reaching my mid 20s, I’m starting to fall back to things that I used to find cool as a kid (like X-Men comics and Transformers) but had to drop when I become a teen and young adult because, you know, they ‘weren’t cool’ for a few years. Like I said, I never read Spider-Man, so which collections would you suggest for a newcomer?

  2. Bill Thompson

    Hmmm, that’s a tough question. You can’t go wrong with Marvel’s Essentials line where they are basically reprinting the entire series from the start. But, outside of that I’ll have to do some research and get back to you on what the best TPB’s are for the best Spidey.

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