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Iconic, Electrifying, Classy, Vibrant, and Emotionally Stimulating, Spider-Man Represents the Gold Standard in Superhero Blockbusters
jaredpahl5 June 2016
Warning: Spoilers
The world of movie superheroes began with Superman, thrived with Batman, and reached its ultimate apex with Spider-Man. 2002's biggest movie event combines the slam bang roller coaster rush of Batman with the heart, sweetness, and aw-shucks sincerity of DC's other titan, into a comic book adaptation that is as close to perfect as any will ever come. A joyous blast of post-9/11 American verve, crafted with class and a keen eye for storytelling, Sam Raimi's 2002 mega-hit is a once-in-a-lifetime, generation defining summer blockbuster, and in the eyes of this Generation Spider-Man-er, it's still the gold standard in superhero cinema.

Spider-Man takes most of its cues from 1978's Superman: The Movie. Peter Parker's journey from unassuming geek to high-flying hero mimics the Man of Steel's in story and tone. The colorful comic spirit of Richard Donner's gleefully exciting original is all here, just Marvel-fied. Raimi and screenwriter David Koepp approach Spider-Man's origin with reverence for Stan Lee and Steve Ditko's original story. Koepp's script hits all the beats you'd expect (Spider bite, wrestling match, great power, and all that), but it also includes, unexpectedly, an intelligent, eloquent emotional foundation. Raimi and Koepp understand who Peter Parker is, and how his transformation into Spider-Man can metaphorically parallel his development as a character. In being confronted by new and strange spider powers, Peter is also confronted by the responsibilities of manhood. Koepp takes Stan Lee's best idea (That Peter Parker should grapple equally between supervillains and everyday problems), and pushes it to its logical max. Peter's infatuation with girl-next-door, Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst) is given equal importance to his struggle with Norman Osborne's manic alter ego, the Green Goblin (Willem Dafoe). The result is pretty well timeless. The quintessential Spider-Man story. A coming of age tale that gracefully weaves together every important aspect of the wall-crawler's mythos into a grand concoction of pure Spider-Man. Enhancing the story is one of the great casting jobs in motion picture history. First and foremost is Tobey Maguire, who was a revelation as Peter Parker/ Spider-Man. Like Christopher Reeve before him, Maguire completely defines the role. His Parker is a good kid; shy, dorky, and believably square. He radiates with innocence and later, teenage anxiety. As Spider-Man, he's delightfully charismatic. Lively, but never annoyingly brash in the way other Spideys have been. In the costume or not, every subsequent Spidey will live in his shadow. Maguire's casting was a stroke of genius, but it was no anomaly. Kirsten Dunst is a luminous MJ, and she and Peter's romance sparkles with charm. Willem Dafoe relishes his Green Goblin role, with a voice and presence that burn with comic book intensity. And the perfection doesn't stop there. The colorful supporting cast is just plain superb, with a legendary turn from J.K. Simmons as the hard-nosed newspaper man, J. Jonah Jameson, and two measured, twinkle-in-their-eyes performances by Cliff Robertson and Rosemary Harris as Uncle Ben and Aunt May.

But Spider-Man belongs to Sam Raimi. A Spider-Man superfan since childhood, Raimi was destined to bring the web-slinger to life. The offbeat sense of violent fun and jubilant cinematic showmanship that made Evil Dead and Darkman so entertaining is precisely what was needed to bring Spider-Man's New York to dazzling light. And what a creation Raimi's Spider-Verse is! The tone, with a precarious balance of larger-than-life action and textured character moments, never wavers once. Raimi crafts in Spider-Man, a New York where the archetypical comic book mainstays: the cackling villains, the wise-cracking heroes, and the pedestrians who shout to the skies "Look, it's Spider-Man!", fit just as well as the richly drawn human characters. Raimi and the creative team behind the film's production design deserve the highest of praises. There is nothing else that combines style and realism to such astonishing effect. It's as if forty years of comics have been distilled into a real world somewhere alongside our own. Spider-Man is a captivating movie to look at. The action scenes are as fast and fun as the best of Cameron or Spielberg, but Raimi adds his own comic book punch, a kind of visceral razor-sharpness that leaps off the screen. The climactic showdown alone is as brutal, shocking, and frighteningly violent a movie battle as you will ever see. And when Spider-Man swings through the Manhattan skyline, you feel the exhilaration like you're right there with him. Despite a moment or two of spotty CGI from Sony Imageworks, the special effects here are world class too. The digital Spidey moves with a grace and elegance that would have been inconceivable just ten years prior, but digital or not, every time Spider-Man was on screen, I couldn't take my eyes off of it.

Spider-Man showcases Sam Raimi at his exuberant best. Every frame of this movie is bursting with life. Whether it's the often gripping action scenes or the carefully crafted soap operatic drama, Spider-Man is an enthusiastic piece of crowd-pleasing entertainment, a passionate celebration of the Spider-Man mythos, and above all, a work of unparalleled quality. Blockbusters, especially superhero movies, with their all but guaranteed profits, can often breed lazy filmmaking. Sam Raimi and company fly in the face of that conceit. The filmmakers have taken the time to really craft this film. Wrapped up in all the soaring spectacle is something real; An enchanting love story, a poignant morality tale about becoming the man you will be for the rest of your life. Spider-Man recalls the kind of stand-up-and-cheer excitement that Hollywood has lost in the post Dark Knight/Avengers world of superhero movies. Raimi doesn't try to transcend the genre. Spider-Man is not "more" than a comic book movie, but through sheer craftsmanship, it is as perfect a comic book movie as can be made. I can't imagine that we will ever see the stars align in such a perfect way again. Spider-Man came together exactly as it should have, with exactly the right people, at exactly the right time for the country. Seeing this movie in theaters was an experience I will never forget, and the film still stands as the standard for what superhero blockbusters can be.

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A really great comic book adaptation
MaxBorg898 October 2005
"With great power comes great responsibility".These words, spoken by Peter Parker's uncle Ben(Cliff Robertson)during their last conversation and which have become Spider-Man's motto, also perfectly represent the challenge Sam Raimi was facing when asked to bring one of America's most loved superheroes to the screen.

You can relax, fellas: Raimi's movie is definitely worth a look.Loosely based on the origin story and the Stan Lee/John Romita Sr. run, it's a fascinating mix of spectacular action and powerful drama, as it chronicles Peter Parker's(Tobey Maguire) transformation into a superhuman and the responsibilities deriving from said metamorphosis: while fighting crime to avenge his uncle's death, he also has to deal with his feelings for Mary Jane Watson(Kirsten Dunst) and his friendship with Harry Osborn(James Franco); add Harry's father Norman(Willem Dafoe), who's become schizophrenic psycho Green Goblin, and you've got a quite complicated situation.

Raimi's excellent at showing us the hero's pain, as well as the one he causes to others, and he gets terrific performances from the entire cast, particularly Maguire, Dafoe and Robertson.

On its own, it's a very good superhero flick, alongside the sequel, it's an absolute masterpiece.

Recommended even if you don't care about the comics.
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sdjones-12 May 2002
I thoroughly enjoyed "Spider-Man," which I saw in a screening. I thought the movie was very engrossing. Director Sam Raimi kept the action quotient high, but also emphasized the human element of the story. Tobey Maguire was very believable as the gawky teenager in the early part of the film and then, after his run-in with the radioactive, genetically engineered spider, as the athletic, acrobatic superhero of the title. His boyish glee at discovering his new superpowers was infectious and got a lot of laughs. I also didn't mind the changes to the "Peter Parker: The Amazing Spider-Man" comic book story that the film's writers made, e.g., having Spider-Man's web come out of glands in his wrists rather than being an invention of Peter Parker's. Especially good were Rosemary Harris and Cliff Robertson as Aunt May and Uncle Ben Parker, Willem Dafoe as Norman Osborn/the Green Goblin, James Franco as Harry Osborn, and Kirsten Dunst as Mary Jane Watson. And in a small but memorable role, J.K. Simmons ("Oz," Law & Order") as newspaper publisher J. Jonah Jameson was hilarious. Perfect casting. I also thought the special effects were very good. Although I could easily tell when Spidey was a computer-generated image (or a stunt double for that matter), it didn't detract from my enjoyment of the movie. However, I saw the movie with a six-year-old, who found the villainous Green Goblin -- superbly personified by Willem Dafoe -- very, very frightening, so I would advise against taking children younger than 10 years of age to this movie. "The Amazing Spider-Man" comic book was a childhood favorite of mine, and I can honestly say that Sam Raimi has done it justice! I'm going to go see this movie again (sans terrified six-year-old).
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Amazingly Spectacularly Great
to_kill_better26 June 2002
Having seen the trailers for this film I have to say that I didn't walk into the cinema with high hopes. The computer effects looked badly integrated, the Green Goblin's costume looked awful and comic book adaptations usually have such painful scripting and plotting. Thankfully I was wrong on most counts (The Goblin still looks rubbish).

As it turns out, this is probably the best super-hero film I've yet seen - certainly up there with Superman and Batman. People seem to automatically comment that the script and acting was bad because they expect it to be the case in these films; and indeed it usually is. But if you go into Spider-man without this prejudicial attitude you'll be pleasently suprised. The acting is generally great - there is never a time when anyone is not believable as their character and you think "Hey, that's an actor, not Peter Parker". The effects do look artificial but the pace of the movie means you don't have time to dwell on this and the script is fine! What do people want, Shakespearian soliloquies? That would sound incredibly out-of-place in modern day New York. There are few of the painful cliches or dreadful dialogue that plague films like The Phantom Menace and the catchphrases like "friendly neighbourhood spider-man" are fully in-keeping with the character.

The comic turns from J.J. Jameson hit the mark, the snarling facial contortions of Willem Defoe were suitably evil-looking (and the conversation with his mirror-image was a great touch). My only gripe was with the Green Goblin's costume. Very monotone green and not very scary.

All-in-all a great film that I wouldn't hesitate for a second in recommending.
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Raimi and Maguire weave a magical web in this excellent comic adaptation
clydestuff9 April 2004
Studios lately have been known to spend almost $200 million dollars bringing a comic book super hero to life on the silver screen. With $200 million dollars you can buy many state of the art special effects for the director to full around with to his hearts content. If in the process, though, he decides to fore-go an entertaining story and script, characters that we can get to know and sympathize with, and good actors to bring those characters to life, all the special effects in the world isn't going to amount to a hill of beans. Fortunately for us, in bringing Marvel Comic's Spiderman to life, Sam Raimi did care about those little details and the audience is richly rewarded because of it.

One of the trickier tasks when transferring a film such as Spiderman to film is in giving us enough background story. If a writer and director spend too much time on the origins of the character, it has a tendency to bog the rest of the film down. Likewise, if it is given short thrift, we never have a chance to become involved emotionally with the super-hero. In Spiderman, Raimi, aided immeasurably by Tobey Maguire as Peter Parker/Spiderman strikes just the right note. Maguire is such an accomplished actor, that he immediately establishes Peter Parker as someone we will care about throughout the film. He has a crush on the beautiful girl next door, Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst), is constantly harassed by the school jerk, and has a best friend, Harry (James Franco), who's relationship with his father Norman (Willem Dafoe)is far from perfect. As for Peter, he has an exceptional home life with his Uncle Ben (Cliff Robertson) and Aunt May (Rosemary Harris) which is probably one of the reasons Harry develops an early kinship with him. That and the fact that Harry's father seems to think more of Peter than he does of his own son at times.

After having been bitten by a mutated spider, Peter awakens one morning to find himself with some exceptional super powers. He develops muscles that he didn't have before, has reflexes Michael Jordan would be proud of, and can shoot a web like nobody's business. It is during these early scenes of discovery by Peter that the film truly excels. Maguire is like a child whom after taking his first steps, learns he can motor about the house quite nicely, thank you very much. We can't help but have as much fun watching Peter Parker hone his skills as he seems to have in being able to do these magnificent feats.

Another fine aspect of Spiderman is the love story that develops between Parker and Mary Jane. As Peter Parker, he is never able to quite overcome his inability to tell Mary Jane of his true feelings. Later, as Spiderman, there is a wonderful scene between him and Mary Jane in a drenching downpour that any romantic film would envy.

Whereas some have not been too enamored of Dafoe's portrayal as Norman Osborn/Green Goblin, I found both to be right on the mark. As Norman, we see how his continuous drive to control his company alienates and spoils the relationship he has with his son Harry. It's not that Norman is an evil person, his quest for power has led him to more or less take his son for granted. Later, when after a lab accident, it is the schizophrenic battle between the normal Harry and the Evil Harry that brings the Green Goblin to life. It would have been easy for Raimi to have the lab accident just turn Harry instantly into the Green Goblin, but instead we get a richer more dramatic story that we wouldn't have had otherwise.

Likewise James Franco, who looks enough like Dafoe that they could be father and son, is a youth who seems tormented by the fact that no matter what success he achieves, his father never gives him his just due. Kirsten Dunst is also beautiful and charming as Mary Jane. Her romantic scenes with Spiderman are wonderfully played, and she has an especially moving scene with Peter Parker as the film draws to a close.

As for the special effects, they are indeed spectacular. As Spiderman swoops between buildings on his web, you won't think once that it's not really him doing so. When reading IMDB reviews of this film or any other film that depends heavily on special effects, one must keep in mind that it has become more or less a hobby among some to downgrade the effects of any film so my advice is to just ignore the criticism in that regard. The effects here are fine.

Two years ago, it was with quite a bit of eagerness that I anticipated Raimi's Spiderman film and it lived up to my hopes in every aspect. If the impending sequel comes even close to being as good as the original, it'll be a job well done. And if a film such as Spiderman can have me counting the days until Spiderman II, than I have no choice but to give it my grade, which for Spiderman is an A.
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One of the best movies of the year!!!
Smells_Like_Cheese5 May 2002
Warning: Spoilers
Spider-Man is seriously the best movie of the summer! I couldn't believe how much fun I had watching this movie: the fights, the costumes, the charactersÂ… I'm not even a comic book nerd, no offense to those who are, just I couldn't believe how much of a nerd I felt like when I was jumping and getting excited to see this movie. I waited an hour in line to see this movie with my friends and I have to tell you that it was completely worth it. This is the crazy movie of the summer, but it's one of the best blockbusters to come out of the new millennium. I was never into Spider-Man, didn't really know about the story, but seeing this movie, I think I'm going to take a trip to the comic book store probably.

Peter Parker, his best friend Harry Osborn, and Peter's secret crush Mary Jane Watson visit a genetics laboratory with their high school class. While taking photos in the laboratory, Peter is bitten on the hand by a genetically engineered "super spider". Feeling unwell, he passes out shortly after arriving home. Meanwhile, scientist and owner of Oscorp Norman Osborn, Harry's father, is attempting to preserve his company's military contract, knowing that its loss will mean the end of his business. He experiments on himself with his company's new, but unstable, performance-enhancing chemical vapor which increases his speed, strength, and stamina. However, it also causes him to become insane and kills his assistant. The next morning, Peter wakes to find that his previously impaired vision has improved and that his body has changed into a more muscular physique. At school, he finds himself producing webbing and having the quick reflexes to avoid being injured in a fight with bully Flash Thompson. Peter escapes from the school and realizes that he has acquired spider-like abilities from the spider bite. He quickly learns to scale walls, long jump across building rooftops and swing via webs from his wrists. Norman being ticked off that he didn't get a muscular body he decides to destroy the world! OK, that's not exactly the reason, but I did sense tension there.

I had so much fun watching this movie, I can't tell you how many incredible scenes there were, I think my favorite was between Norman coming to Thanksgiving dinner and the high tension when he finds out who Spider Man is and the last fight scene between Spider Man and the Green Goblin was awesome! The ending is a cliff hanger, so I'm looking forward to seeing the next Spider Man. This was a great movie, I highly recommend it, Spider-Man has great effects, cheesy acting, fun one liners, and the upside down kiss that will be talked about for generations to come.

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What I was hoping for and more.
Aaron13752 September 2005
Usually when there is a big summer movie I am looking forward to, I wait and wait and then the movie comes out and it is a big disappointment. I really looked forward to the American Godzilla movie and by golly it was a huge disappointment. Then I really looked forward to Star Wars episode 1 and although it was not the disappointment Godzilla was, it was still a disappointment. Spider-man however was everything I was hoping it to be. In fact, it has to be considered one of the best comic book adaptations ever. It actually took parts of the comic book and incorporated it into the movie. Unlike most comic book movies where the story doesn't come from any of the comic books. Sure there are some departures such as the organic web shooters, but this is acceptable seeing as how watching Peter Parker learning he has them makes for some humorous scenes. The entire cast did a great job capturing the characters they were playing and there are some great fights as well. This is also a departure from most comic book movies where there is really no good fight at all between the heroes and villains.
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Toby Maguire spins a mean web...excellent fun movie...
Doylenf15 December 2002
One of the most successful translations of "comic book to screen" has fine results in SPIDER-MAN, a handsomely produced version of the comic book classic with a sprightly score by Danny Elfman and some incredibly realistic looking CGI effects.

The simple plot of good vs. evil begins when Peter Parker is bitten by a spider while touring a local museum with his high school class. The plot thickens when he develops webs and the ability to soar over rooftops and vehicles with ease--as well as climbing walls. Toby Maguire plays the nerdy teen-ager with a wholesome air of innocent charm, his open-eyed expression never concealing the delight he takes in the role. As his girlfriend, Mary Jane, Kirsten Dunst does a likable enough job even if the costume department decided to dress her like a teen hooker.

Everyone else is in fine form. William Dafoe deserves top praise for his Green Goblin--evil enough to frighten the wits out of the faint-hearted. J. Jonah Jameson is excellent as the bombastic newspaper editor who takes advantage of his most famous client. Rosemary Harris and Cliff Robertson, in quieter roles, are warm and human. James Franco is believable as Peter's best friend.

Admirers of the comic book tales should have no trouble liking the movie with its amazing CGI effects. It's heart-warming and funny, with some terror thrown in for good measure. Good escapist entertainment even if the message seems a little vague. Message??
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~ Web-Slinging Fun ~
Aysen086 January 2005
Normally I can't stand movies derived from comics, for example the duds that were the Hulk & Daredevil, but this one surprised me.

An excellent take on the comic book character created by Stan Lee. Next to the X-Men movies that came out about the same time, and Superman with Christopher Reeve, it is definitely one of the better Comic to Movie films put out.

The cast is well chosen. McGuire is Spiderman/Peter Parker to me. I don't think they could have chosen better. Kirsten Dunst makes a decent Mary Jane Watson, wasn't ever fond of her to begin with, but it's pulled off well. Willem Dafoe as the Green Goblin is sheer genius.

The story is well written and keeps you along for the entire ride, coupled with action that's explosive and thrilling. Definitely fun for all, even die hard Spidey fans won't be disappointed! Fun for all! 9/10.
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Poignant, fun and a faithful adaptation to the original comic book
Sean_Thorniley1 May 2002
Poignant, fun and a faithful adaptation to the original comic book. I am very critical of comic book movies since I am a huge fan of the medium and was tremendously disappointed in the Superman and Batman movies (all of them, some greatly!). This film however has again demonstrated that an adaptation of a comic book story can be fun and faithful to the story, yet be a film for all ages and those who may not have ever even read a comic book. The Crow was the only other good comic book movie in my opinion, but it was not an all ages fun ride as this is!

I had the privilege of seeing the film last night, 4-30-02, in SF with the press and 300+ other folks for its "Bay Area Premiere".

The acting is the finest portion of the film with the leads giving us depth that I was unsure would be allowed by the style of story chosen. Maguire was outstanding at being a guy who can rarely catch a break, but attract difficulty with ease and aplomb. He is awkward with the woman he loves, but eloquent when dealing with the familiar, just as most teenagers are even today. He gave us wonderful joy at the prospect of "web swinging" and kicking some much deserved ass! Dafoe is wonderfully scary as the man who has succumbed to the power games of the corporate world that drives a decent man mad striving for perfection in himself while trying to hard to please all the wrong people to no avail and then being consumed by guilt that has built over the years of family neglect which finally helps to push him over the edge when an opportunity to make a huge mistake presents itself.

The rest of cast is nearly as spectacular with the J.K. Simmons turning in the best performance in the film as J. Jonah Jamason. When he appeared on screen things lite up even more and he was on fire making everyone in the audience laugh and myself nearly p** my pants. Harris as Aunt May and Robertson as Uncle Ben were excellent choices and gave the film a great deal of its credibility and finesse. Letting what happens to Ben and Peter (I am not telling) was wonderful and the best punctuation to what makes Peter do what he does and brings complete credibility to the story. I am not a huge Dunst fan, but she was just fine as the love of Peter Parker's life and a person much like Peter only neither was conscious of the fact. This to me is a more real version of "true love".

The script was far stronger than I expected with some wonderful dialog; verbal exchanges, solid plot points and pacing. Many a good parenting lesson can be found in this film as well as interesting thoughts about the choices that we make in life that we might think are no big deal when in the heat of passion, but may well come back to haunt us if we don't think before we act/speak: which is the trust of the film in my humble opinion.

The direction from Raimi was also much better than I anticipated coming from someone who is known (and loved) for his over the top camp and action. Many of the fight and action sequences where more "over done" than I like, but they were solid and much like a comic of the Silver Age from whence the story comes so it fit the film fine. Nice cinematography without the CGI taking over and detracting from the realism, in fact it made much of the web swinging truly believable. A few points made things a bit hard to "believe", but over all I think most folks will be able to suspend their disbelief.

Danny Elfman. Need I say more? He is the man when it comes to "super hero" music and is the closest thing to John Willams and the late great Bernard Herman there is today. He subtly sets the mood and most of the audience probably doesn't even realize it. Tomorrow is my day off and I will be purchasing the score to add to my collection!
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DVD review - yep, definitely a fun movie, and a great DVD to own.
TxMike1 November 2002
Breaking with usual tradition, the "Spider-Man" DVD was released today, a Friday. At around $15 almost everywhere, for the 2 disk set, it was too good a bargain to pass up. I hadn't seen the film in theaters so this was my first viewing. Definitely entertaining, with a good mix of action and budding romance, the film of the beginnings of Spider-Man. Although I was a bigger fan of Superman as a kid, I also have good memories of the Spider-Man comics, and this film is very faithful.

no SPOILERS here - The 2 disk DVD set is one of the better ones. The picture itself is extremely sharp, and very colorful, with a very clear and dynamic Dolby 5.1 sound track. Surround sound complements the picture masterfully, so that the viewer seems right in the middle of the action. **POINT** - As I have explained in other reviews, anyone still watching movies at home on VHS needs to get rid of it now! It is a different movie on DVD, the quality of the picture, the quality of the sound, not to mention all the extras. With a widescreen TV it is almost like being in a theater.

The EXTRAS - In addition to the movie, disk one has a feature that pops up a spider icon at certain spots that, when "clicked", jumps you to a brief "making of" segment for that scene, then jumps you back to the movie. Plus there are two different, selectable commentaries for anyone who likes the re-watch a movie and hear what went into its making.

Disk two is completely devoted to "extras", like screen tests, an HBO special, and other aspects of making "Spider-Man." Also included is an archive of Spider-Man comics covers from the 1960s to now, grouped by decade, and written script to summarize the basic story of each issue. A "must have" for all Spider Man comics fans.

There have been a few user reviews on IMDb, usually very short, which trash this movie, and may even say something like "avoid this movie". Be certain those are "bogus" reviews, written for some deceptive purpose, I know not why. For anyone who enjoys any kind of fantasy action movie with a good message, "Spider-Man" is a definite "must-see."
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Spider-Man (2002) - With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility!
nickmesafilms19 May 2012
Considered as one of the most successful superhero movies ever made, "Spider-Man" is a superhero film adaptation of one of Stan Lee's most popular Marvel comics, and becoming one of the first movies to score the highest opening weekend in the box office. There's no wonder, because this is an exciting and enjoyable motion picture. One of my childhood favorites, to be exact! This movie tells the origin story of Peter Parker, or Spider-Man, portrayed by Tobey Maguire, whom after being bit by a radioactive spider, he has gained extraordinary powers to climb walls, shoot web, and beat bad guys. But all that must be put to the test when Parker has to defeat one of the first villains of the Spider-Man universe, the Green Goblin, portrayed by Willem Dafoe. Although Maguire is somewhat bland in a few of his movies, I respected that he fit the role of Peter Parker perfectly, playing a shy kid, with no powers to either beat the bad guy or win the girl. Although given some of the corniest lines of dialouge in this movie, Kirsten Dunst makes an adorable portrayal as Mary Jane Watson, while giving a great chemistry with her co-star. But, Willem Dafoe seems a little miscast playing the deadly Green Goblin, feeling more like he's suitable for drama, instead of action. Rosemary Harris, James Franco, Cliff Robertson, and J.K. Simmons, round up the supporting cast, bringing some memorable performances on-screen, especially Simmons, who steals every scene he's in as J. Jonah Jameson, the angry editor chief of the Daily Bugle. There are few corny and goofy moments from here and there, but that doesn't stop the exciting momentum that this movie brings. Filled with impressive visual effects and a wonderful music score by Danny Elfman, director Sam Raimi perfectly stays true to the original Spider-Man concept, and delivers plenty of exciting action sequences that are both fun to watch, and stay true to the plot. Behind "The Dark Knight" and "The Avengers", "Spider-Man" is probably my third favorite superhero movie. I can watch this movie over and over again, and it's still a fun time. I was easily impressed with this movie, and it never disappoints to entertain. Everyone will find something to enjoy for sure. "Spider-Man", in my review, "a refreshing story, and exciting action".
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"This is my gift. My curse. Who am I? I'm Spider-Man." 10 years later, it's still amazing!
joetufano71919 June 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Before I saw this movie, I didn't really care for Spider-Man that much. Summer of 2002 when it came out, my Dad and I went to see it and I thought it was incredible! Even today 10 years later, I still get a thrill out of it, and it's a movie that has stayed in my imagination for a long time.

It's a great origin story about how Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) becomes Spider-Man after being bitten by a genetically engineered spider, and becomes a superhero after his Uncle Ben (Cliff Robertson, RIP) is killed by a carjacker. He later battles the Green Goblin who is really Norman Osborn, the father of Peter Parker's best friend, Harry Osborn (James Franco). I still love how the movie ends. Peter is walking away from Mary Jane who has just kissed him and realized that he could be Spider-Man since she kissed Spider-Man earlier in the movie. In a voice over, Peter says, "Whatever life holds in store for me, I will never forget these words: 'With great power comes great responsibility.' This is my gift. My curse. Who am I? I'm Spider-Man." And it shows Spider-Man swinging through New York City.

Tobey Maguire is in my view, the best actor to play Peter Parker/Spider-Man yet, and accurately captures the awkwardness and caring personality of the character. Kirsten Dunst who plays Mary Jane is great even though I wish she didn't play damsel in distress so much in this movie. My Dad and I joke around about the famous scene where she and Spider-Man kiss each other in the rain with Spider-Man hanging upside down. As for, Willem Dafoe who plays the main antagonist Norman Osborn/Green Goblin, he is insanely good, since he always plays an excellent bad guy, and the rest of the cast such as Rosemary Harris, James Franco, Cliff Robertson and J.K. Simmons bring their "A" game. Sam Raimi was an excellent choice for the director since he was a big fan of the Spider-Man comics as a kid. He definitely brought what he knew into the story, even though he made some changes in this version. Honestly, I don't have a problem with changes he made.

I know that because of the new Spider-Man coming out this year, fans of that film are hating this movie and the other two and embracing the new one. In all fairness, I will always love Sam Raimi's trilogy regardless of how successful the new Spider-Man films are even though I'm looking forward to the new series.

10 years later, I still give this movie a thumbs up.
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A perfect, classic, epic superhero film.
Prashast_Singh2 June 2018
SPIDER-MAN is a stupendous masterpiece of the superhero cinema. It blends action, adventure, humour, emotions, thrills and science fiction in a perfect way. Tobey Maguire's whole-hearted portrayal of SPIDER-MAN is flawless. I remember watching this movie as a very young child and loved every bit of it. Just few weeks ago, I re-watched the film in high quality to recall the old good memories of the film as well to enjoy it in the best picture quality. I felt more enthralled and intrigued than earlier.

Each and every actor in this film has given an explosive performance. Tobey is undoubtedly very relatable as Peter Parker, with whom you won't mind sharing his tears. The way the film's mood turns to a very intense one towards the end, his act intensifies. You see him breathe the roles of Peter and Spidey. Willem Dafoe plays an easily menacing antagonist whose actions make him very entertaining. Kirsten Dunst leaves a strong impression as Mary Jane, while James Franco too impresses with his cool performance. Rosemary Harris portrays Aunt May very well, while it's Cliff Robertson, whose portrayal of Ben Parker is very emotional and instantly makes you care and cry for him. And J.K. Simmons: do I need to say how great both his acting and comic timing are?

The film's action is brilliantly executed and innovative in many ways. Each and every action sequence is explosive and gels perfectly with the screenplay. The film has a lot of classic moments which are still remembered as one of the best ones in a superhero film. The visual effects are phenomenal, as is the editing. Sam Raimi's direction makes it a flawless film which feels like one's own story.

Finally, it's the film's action packed climax and an emotionally resonant ending which proves how every superhero who has superpowers, has also many great responsibilities to handle. Seriously, a SPIDER-MAN movie couldn't have been any better than this.
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An Entertaining, Superb and Well Executed Superhero Movie
Aly20021 January 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Bryan Singer's "X-Men" have started getting audiences excited for the modern superhero movies, but when Sam Raimi released his first "Spider Man" outing the expectations bar immediately shot to the stratosphere. Raimi delivered on his promise of an exciting and action-packed film about Marvel Comic's famous web-slinging superhero.

We are given the basic origin story of how teenage Peter Parker gains his famous powers after a radioactive spider bites him, but we are treated to an engaging narrative as the newly minted hero must contend with his most deadly adversary in the wicked Green Goblin while also contending with normal teenage drama such as an at-times contentious friendship as well as harboring feelings for his pretty neighbor.

Stepping into the web-slinger's famous costume is the well cast Tobey Maguire who deftly manages to play both the nerdy Peter Parker and courageous Spider Man with equal flair. Despite being nearly thirty years old at the time of filming, Maguire's youthful appearance convinces the audience that he resembles a teenager and not a mature young man. Even when inhabiting Spidey's famous suit, Maguire displays a youthful machismo mixed with some naivety as Peter is still coming into his element as a superhero but proves himself as fearless when confronted by his emerald-clad nemesis, the Green Goblin. While other more seasoned young actors were considered, the gamble to go with Maguire paid handsomely as he carries the weight of both average New York teen and crime-fighting legend in harmonious tandem.

On the opposite side of the board playing the villainous Green Goblin and his unstable alter ego, Norman Osbourne, is the wickedly delightful Willem Dafoe in one of his most insane roles. When the film starts and Norman is running his successful company, Dafoe portrays a fatherly wisdom for young actors Tobey Maguire as Peter and James Franco who plays Norman's son, Harry, but also shows early signs of the soon-to-be shattered psyche that will doom Norman to the corruptible power of the Goblin persona (the result of a lab accident where Norman tests a power-enhancing drug on himself and kills a fellow scientist in his mania). Once the transformation into an unstable madman begins to take effect, Dafoe fully embraces the insanity and goes as over the top as possible, utilizing his vocal talents by using a lighter vocal tone for the tormented Norman while using his trademark gravelly sounding voice and a cackling demented laugh for the wicked Goblin, without becoming a cartoonish impression of the famous super-villain but as a calculating and dangerous adversary who strikes fear into everyone around New York. Added to the excitement of watching the actor in action is that instead of having a stuntman do the brunt work of maneuvering the Goblin's glider and engaging in fisticuffs with Spider Man is that Willem Dafoe performs his own stunts (the actor himself stated the fact in numerous interviews and the filmmakers backed Dafoe's statements).

A talented supporting cast rounds out the compelling characters with Kirsten Dunst as Peter Parker's longtime neighbor and love interest, Mary Jane Watson, James Franco as Peter's best friend< Harry Osbourne who happens to be the son of his mortal enemy, Rosemary Harris as Peter's beloved Aunt May and cliff Robertson in the role of Uncle Ben (who sadly doesn't make it to the halfway mark of the film as comic book fans know well) and in a scene- stealing role as hot-headed and grouchy boss of the Daily Bugle, J. Jonah Jameson, is J.K. Simmons in what is one of the character actor's most iconic roles.

The film's action sequences are well choreographed and executed from Peter Parker's first attempts to use his enhanced spider-like abilities to the infamous introduction of the Green Goblin at an Oscorp party to the dynamic final confrontation between Spidey and his emerald nemesis where the fists fly and ass-kicking just draws the attention in and doesn't relent till a victor is declared. The filmmakers use as little CGI as possible except for Spider Man's web-slinging across the city since director Sam Raimi is known for using practical effects in his films.

The narrative of the film as mentioned before sets up the main action with the origin of Spider Man when Peter is bitten by the radioactive spider on a field trip with his class and we are given Green Goblin's origin as well with Norman Osbourne's ill-advised test of his company's drug on himself that causes him to become the demented villain we love to hate. The story then shifts into the main plot of how Spider Man comes to learn what he must do as a hero to protect his beloved city and loved ones.

A truly masterful superhero film that really ushered in the modern superhero craze.
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Spawned a Genre. Screw This New SpiderCat.
powermandan22 October 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Before Spiderman, there wasn't very many superhero movies. Most of them sucked. After Spiderman's release in 2002 and its sequels in 2004 and 2007, we saw the Dark Knight movies, Thor, Captain American, Iron Man, etc. Without this movie, many people in these superhero films would not have careers.

Unlike the cartoons and comics, this is slightly different version of Spiderman with a different story. Why did they change? Dramatic purposes were needed. See the 2012 reboot to see why. A nerdy Peter Parker gets bitten by a spider at a high school science field trip and develops radical powers. Although still timid and soft-spoken, he gains confidence and tries to win over Mary Jane Watson: his life-long crush. Meanwhile, Norman Osborne's most recent Oscorp experiment goes drastically wrong and develops a vicious alter-ego--the Green Goblin--who Peter must stop.

Anybody that says the 2012 reboot beats this either thinks Andrew Garfield is hot and/or are hardcore comic fans that don't understand how movies work. Tobey's Peter Parker is kind, caring likable, hardworking and mysterious that can't seem to catch a break. Mary Jane is sweet, has high hopes, is popular, and comes from a bad home. Norman Osborne is emotionally- destructive and tortured by his other personality, Green Goblin. This Green Goblin is freaking scary, yet funny villain that hasn't yet been topped. (Well, Heath Ledger did.) The Love story is original and better than the new one. In this, Peter keeps himself a mystery from Mary Jane, yet is still her emotional comfort who is always there. The new one is just him getting the girl right away and developing "chemistry." The hero doesn't get the girl in this? That is originality. This movie is also very unforgettable.

Tobey is so much better than Garf-cat. For one, he doesn't have a stupid haircut. For another, he is smart, but the whole movie isn't just Peter doing science experiments and trying to find out about his parents. Peter is also more muscular and looks like a superhero type, while Garfield is just skin and bones. Peter is developed so well in this, we feel his exact moods. Garfield's weren't bad, but not good. Tobey wasn't disrespectful to anybody like Garfield was throughout the whole movie. Tobey was more deserving of his powers. Tobey's Spider powers being internal makes him more of a superhuman. Garfield's discovery of his powers were so stupid. Garfield wined a lot more than Tobey did. This Peter was constantly changing throughout the whole movie, Garfield stayed the same. Tobey pulled off the geek persona while Garfield failed at a geek trying to be cool. Tobey's Spiderman delivers funny one-liners while fighting villains while Garfield breaks out into extremely stupid 10 minute songs and dances. Garfield gives up hunting his uncle's killer. Garfield only saved, what, 2 people? And caused that death of Gwen's father. Tobey saved many people throughout the whole movie and causes no deaths. Sorry for so many comparisons. It's a dirty job, but somebody had to do it!
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web slinging at its best
hcalderon120 March 2005
Peter Parker is a typical 18 year old who is smart, but is picked on by Jocks and is too shy to talk to the beautiful Mary Jane Watson who lives next door. Until the day he is bitten by a radio active spider, then the next day he feels different, he can sense things coming at him, he can spin a web, he also has incredible strength, and he can stick to walls. At first Peter decides to use his new powers for show, but after a terrible tragedy, Peter decides to use his powers to stop crime and help people, by becoming Spiderman. Then a super villain called the green Goblin is bent on mass destruction, it is then up to Spiderman to stop him. I enjoyed this movie because it had a lot of action and was not boring.
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Oh yeah !
zoran_kamen18 June 2016
I truly don't know what to say about this movie, which got already all

possible praises and all possible critics ! But I will write what I can

from my heart, cause my post cannot match any reviews from grammatical

super humans and ultra intelligent movie critics ! OK lets start :

This movie is directed by one of my favorite film directors Sam Raimi who directed and produced so many good movies and one I love the most is TV series adaptation of Evil Dead (also directed by him) movie, Ash vs Evil Dead which also have mostly positive reviews by top critics. I think ratings go well over 90% on rotten tomatoes !

Spider-Man is supremely made from beginning till end. Every scene is so fresh, playful, innocent and there is no second of boredom in this one ! I think its the best movie of all movies about Spider- Man and they surely knew why Sam Raimi would be perfect man for directing it ! Special effects are just right amount and they don't look artificial at all ! You really have feeling like being part of this world of super heroes and super villains ! So if you wanna movie to look good give it to Spielberg, Peter Jackson or Sam Raimi ! In all three cases you cannot miss ! Acting could be flawed but movie will look good ! Cause I really love movies about super heroes, with Superman first part being one of my favorite movies ever, but I love also Batman and actually all marvel produced world of super heroes, including X-men franchise (Nine movies until 2016, Deadpool is really great, as well as all others, yup I like also those three banned by critics) Why I wrote this review in 2016 if movie was made 2002 ? I always loved this movie,I guess I would like to support its ratings to go for tiny bit higher ! So for me everything is perfect in this movie - acting, effects, story, scenery for me all this is 10/10 ! On of rare movies I can say that without least doubt ! Just one more thing- 3rd part of Spider Man from 2007(also directed by Sam Raimi) was little bit over criticized by movie critics ! I know they know what to write, they are not stupid of course, but still maybe we became little to spoiled by both mega successful and genius parts before that one (2002 and 2004) cause they said ; in this 3rd part problem is there is too much of everything, but I think Sam Raimi just wanted to conclude franchise with spectacular finish, so in my eyes it was unjustly rated and my rate for all three parts is 10/10 without any doubt ! Thank You Sam for so many excellent movies and to make our life more fun !!
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raysond30 April 2002
I had the grand opportunity to see a special private screening of this eagerly anticipated movie and I must say I was definitely impressed and I was in total awe. Not since the last superhero movie I saw was there a more and clear and complete followup to the comic book and this one was totally it which had me on the edge of my seat and hanging on for more. "Spider-Man" is a grand transition to what a comic book hero supposed to be and for a good reason. It sticks to detail and while it does that it keeps its audience hanging on for more and then some. The acting of the cast was very,very good and for Tobey Maguire's performance as the teen stud Peter Parker/Spider-Man was the best characterization I've seen in a long time since the days of Christopher Reeve(who was the last good actor to play a superhero and to be true to the comic book format).

As for the story itself,it kept its pace with the origins of the story and the comic book itself was right on precise target. As for the villain,actor William Dafoe was electrifying as Spidey's arch nemesis Green Goblin and the battle between him and our web slinger is something to behold. Even the leading lady,Kristen Dunst was not bad as Peter's girlfriend who keeps his identity a secret,but she knows who he is. As the good point of interest,the movie is worth the price of admission. Even if you're a fan of the Marvel comic book or a huge fan of Spidey's cartoon series of Saturday mornings,then this is the ticket to get. Be prepared for the ride of the summer,since this one is unbelievable. Kudos to director Sam Raimi for doing this right and finally bringing Spidey to the screen!!!!

NOTE: There will be two more installments to the Spider-Man trilogy in which Spidey goes up against his greatest enemies like Dr. Octopus, Venom,and Mystiquo and not to mention the deadliest of them all...... DR. DOOM.
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Well done - can't wait for the sequel
timefreezer721 November 2003
Warning: Spoilers
Directed by Sam Raimi

Written by David Koepp

Starring: Tobey Maguire , Willem Dafoe , Kirsten Dunst and James Franco

After years of anticipation and a never ending court battle concerning the legal rights , a big budget cinematic adaptation of the well known comics superhero has finally made it to the movie theaters . First of all I should say I was never much of a Spider-man fan , I have never read comics but is there any person on earth who doesn't know the red clad hero who jumps from building to building ? I doubt so . My only knowledge of Spider-man was some cartoon show where he makes a dynamic trio with Iceman and Fire-Star . I am not aware of anyone of Spidey's enemies and I was not familiar with his origin and motives . Nevertheless I am keen on comics generally and I always like seeing comics characters materialize on celluloid . So I got really excited when I heard that the project FINALLY got green-lighted and that Sam Raimi eventually took it upon him to shoot the Spider-man motion picture . I will have to admit that most of the comments are 100% right . Spider-man (2002) may not be a GREAT film but it sure is a good one (and it beats the hell out of the overrated and disappointing 2000's X-Men) .

I don't think the plot is significant . The movie remains as faithfully to its comics origins as it could be and it satisfies both the hardcore well-knowing fans and the uninitiated like I am . Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) is a nerdy 17 year old student , not much accepted by his social environment and constantly being picked by his bullies classmates . He has a secret crush on the beautiful girl next door Mary Jane `M.J.' Watson (Kirsten Dunst) but she hardly knows he exists . When he is bitten by a mutated super spider he is bestowed with special powers like climbing on windows with his bare (albeit sticky) hands , ejecting spider nets from his arms , incredible acrobatic agility and enhanced danger-approaching instinct. While he tries to adjust to his newly obtained powers he finds himself caught in a war that a fiendish super criminal called the Green Goblin has declared against him . The Green Goblin is a maniac who wreaks havoc and kills innocent people using military equipment and weaponry . He believes that Spider-Man is the only real threat and wants to bring him down . The Green Goblin is actually the alter-ego of Norman Osborn (Willem Dafoe) a very wealthy businessman / scientist who has started developing a split personality and the deranged Green Goblin becomes more and more dominant driving him to madness . Norman's son is Harry (James Franco) who coincidentally is Peter's best friend and classmate . So Spider-Man will try to stop the Green Goblin before he kills more civilians and simultaneously will try to get Mary Jane's attention .

That's it folks . The film spends much more time on the love story between Peter and Mary Jane and less on action . I always like character development and human relationships unfolded in superhero films but a little more action wouldn't heart either . Basically we see Spider-Man beat up some random thugs on alley streets and that's it . The balloon sequence in the middle of the film is nice but awfully reminiscent of Batman (1989) . I wish there were more epic battles between Spider-man and Green Goblin with more explosions . Some other things I didn't like either were :

1) Even worse CGI SFX than the robot soldiers in the Phantom Menace !!! I never thought it could happen but here it is . The shots of Spider-Man in the beginning of the film jumping from the top of a building to another is a lame cartoon that will not convince even a 3 year old viewer . I cannot describe how laughable and fake this Spider-man cartoon is : you will have to see for yourselves .

2) The acting is average from all the actors . None of them manages to deliver fully the dramatic depth of the characters as scripted by the writer. The worst performance belongs to Willem Dafoe . His mirror communication scene was nicely scripted but Dafoe is extremely bad and unconvincing . What exactly happened here ? I liked him in Body of Evidence and Speed II but his talents seem to have been erased in this film . I will have to admit that some of the Green Goblin's lines gave me the creeps but can anyone assure me that it was really him under the suit (or his voice for that matter) ? Maguire's and Dunst's acting is better but still mediocre . Speaking of the duo , one other flaw is that they don't have enough chemistry together (like Christopher Reeve and Margot Kidder) . If they made a more fitting pair the screen time spent in their romance would be more worthily used . And if James Franco has the most impact screen presence is because his character requires for him to sit back and look calm and cool (and it is obvious that's the reason why they cast him) . The secondary characters like Peter's uncle and aunt act OK but that newspaper editor was too annoying to like him.

3) The Green Goblin is never developed and is not much of a formidable foe . Maybe it was intentional to give him little screen time in order not to pull another scene-stealer (a la Joker) and give all the focus on Spider-Man . Unfortunately a great action film always needs a powerful evil character to be the opposition AND the driving force for the hero's existence .

Aside from these flaws the movie has all the features of a good blockbuster . The red suit of Spider-Man is faithful and really convinces us that the character has come to life ! There are some good scenes like the one where Peter finally beats up one the bullies in school . My favorite scene in the movie is a great surprise and that's why I cannot give it away. All I can say if you haven't watched the film , is the sequence where the Green Goblin sings `The itsy , bitsy spider.' . I also digged the final duel between Spider-Man and Green Goblin . Without being too violent it is an exciting fight , larger-than-life and worth our money . I just wish the rest of the movie reached the same adrenaline levels . Despite a lackluster performance , Tobey Maguire was perfectly cast as Peter Parker . He suits the geeky looks the character has and convinces as a 17 year old with continually growing power (physical and personal) . The film has an obvious open end as a set up for the sequel . Much like some recent blockbusters like the Matrix or X-Men the first film is clearly an introductory chapter wanting to lure the audience to a whole franchise . You wait for more action in the next film , more exploitation of the potential of the story and you have a curiosity to find out where the relationships between the protagonists will lead . Spider-Man however manages to rise above the aforementioned films . Why ? Because it is a GOOD introduction . Where X-Men made the mistake of under using 10 characters without any success , Spider-Man has ONE main character . This is what I like most about Raimi's film . We follow Peter Parker from the very beginning . We have a taste of his life before the drastic change occurs and then we have the transformation in front of our eyes full play ! There is not a single superhero film that bothered to show us the beginning of the character . Obviously they thought it would be dull for the already initiated comic book fans but they were wrong . Yes there are other films with scenes were the motives were explained like Batman and some opening establishing scenes like the first Superman . But Raimi's Spider-Man is unique : we SEE Peter Parker training with his super powers , trying to control them and we even get to see him pick his costume . Now I will keep my reservations because I have yet to see the recent batch of Marvel comic-book adaptations like Daredevil or Hulk but for now Spider-Man is the best introducing film you will find . The metaphor about the responsibility of a teenager turned into a mature adult is also explored . The realistic approach is successful here . First of all the first thing Peter does with his powers is to try earning money . Only later he decides to use them for the city 's good and safety . Secondly despite some nitpicking from fans it is quite logical that Spider-man's web-shooting is an organic power . Peter is just 17 and as much as he is supposed to be a science genius he wouldn't have the money or the technology to invent some synthetic web shooters . The Green Goblin outfit sure looks like a Power Ranger suit but it is also realistic as it is a piece of military equipment and not a Halloween costume . New York City is depicted as a shiny town and establishes a truly existing environment for the story to take place .

Spider-Man (2002) for all its weaknesses is a good film with some of the best narrative I have seen . The voice-overs by Maguire help us identify with him even more . The film is better than some other comic book flicks like Phantom or Spawn (not entirely their fault since these characters are less appealing and therefore less known) Dick Tracy , The Mask or the Shadow (good idea but mediocre script / execution) or over hyped blockbusters like the X-Men . It will not be a classic like Superman II or Batman but it is one of the best of the bunch of the `comic-book' genre . I rank it up there with the 3 Batman sequels , Judge Dredd and the original Superman .

SPIDER-MAN (2002) 8 / 10
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I love this movie as a kid.
randyfromscream16 June 2017
This film is the best film like the Sam Raimi Spider-Man is better the The Amazing Spider-Man Films like I don't care if this film is not base on comics I still like the film. I think Tobey Maguire was good at this film and James Franko. I always wonder if there's a Spider-Man 2.1 and a 3.1 then where's Spider-Man 1.1? I guess they don't need it anyways. But still a good film
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It still holds up really well, after about 14 years
vivekchandra00727 January 2017
Saw it again, last night, after a long time and it still managed to catch my attention and I noticed such small (intrinsic) details embedded throughout the movie that it looks like Sam Raimi really spun an amazingly entertaining movie through strings of comic-web. One of the best origin stories that like an old wine, keeps getting better because it is laden with story, a soul that only gets more enlightened by CGI. Sam Raimi researched the material well and it shows, be it having some inside jokes, Easter eggs and how he got the hero got name. The first 30 minutes is simply the best "origin of origin", a superhero flick has shown till date. Best thing is he got so much comfortable with it that he made even amazing second part (one of the best sequels till date) (tied up with T2) but still nothing beats an origin story because it shows "Even you can be".
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Stylish, yet somewhat disappointing!
MinorityReporter12 August 2005
Being an avid fan of the comic book I really looked forward to this movie and for a long time I convinced myself that I liked the film. However, after a long time of self denial I bought the Spider-Man DVD and I saw the film for what it truly was. A disappointment. The magic from the comic books had evaporated.

The acting in the film is a mixed bag. Tobey Maguire is well cast but his overall acting and presence isn't very good. He does the nerd part very well but when it comes to being a super hero he falls short. Spider-Man was always a complex character with great internal struggles but the film medium doesn't convey this very well because we don't get the inner monologue that Spider-Man is so well known for. He therefore has to act with facial expressions and body language. Tobey has a pretty well defined body language but his facial expressions are somewhat lacking. Also the fact that he is wearing the Spider-Man suit in many scenes prevent us from clearly reading what is going on in his head at the moment. Kirsten Dunst is just miscast. She is a horrible actress with zero talent and no resemblance with the character she plays making her performance utterly unbelievable. Willem Dafoe is usually a brilliant actor but in Spider-Man he seems to have dumbed down quite a bit and although his schizophrenic scenes are pretty interesting they do not cover for the fact that this is Dafoe's most mediocre performance in years. James Franco who plays Harry Osborn is remarkably boring in his performance. His voice never seems to change making him a young Keanu Reeves. The most interesting and well cast actor is J.K. Simmons who plays J. Jonah Jameson and if there was ever a guy who looked like the character he is meant to play it is Simmons. This is in both looks, voice and presence.

The overall effects in the movie are undoubtedly very good and this makes the action sequences seem more believable. Spider-Man was nominated for an Oscar in the effects department but deservedly the Oscar went to The Fellowship of the Ring because while the effects are good they are far from brilliant. I will even go as far as to say that the only really good effects scene is the one at the very end where Spider-Man swings through the city. This scene, however, almost saves the film because it is brilliant and it is the only scene I can watch again and again.

Danny Elfman's score is very good and it really suiting for a super hero movie. It really shows that Elfman has done a super hero movie score before. I am of course referring to Batman which is undoubtedly one of the best scores ever and you can certainly feel that Elfman used some of the experiences from that film in Spider-Man. The score has an epic feel to it that suits the film very well. The music is beyond reproach.

Where the film fails is in the fact that it is too proper and it feels too much like it was adapted for kids which is in my opinion a mistake because the film had tremendous potential but it seems wasted because it never really becomes an adult film. Also the ending on the bridge is based on a well known story in the Spider-Man mythology where Spider-Man's first love Gwen Stacy dies in Spider-Man's battle with Green Goblin. I think they should have brought on Gwen Stacy for the first film and then introduced Mary Jan in the second movie. because it would have given Spider-Man a greater sense of loss and a better reason to hate Green Goblin if his first love had died at his hands but instead Raimi plays it safe and has Spider-Man save both the children in the lift and Mary Jane. It just seems too stupid.

All in all Spider-Man was not the movie I was hoping for. I expected the best film ever and it certainly didn't deliver. Having said that and having seen the film a couple of times on DVD now I have grown to appreciate it a bit more. My primary issue with the film is that seems that the film wasn't directed for the fans of the character who expected a better adaptation but instead the film becomes a main stream Blockbuster with a wide range which isn't necessarily a bad thing but being a hardcore Spider-Man fan I would have liked to see a more adult film. Spider-Man is a good effort though and the effects alone deserve to be watched.

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Garish and cartoony
CuriosityKilledShawn29 April 2004
As a fan of Spiderman I was deeply let down by this stupid, gaudy, 'Hollywood' movie version. There are so many things wrong with it I could go on for ages.

First of all, it's HORRIBLY miscast. Tobey Maguire is NO Peter Parker, he is so completely wrong for the part. Jake Gyllenhaal could have been much better. Kirsten Dunst as Mary-Jane Watson seemed like a typical studio-exec choice. Instead of finding someone who could actually be a model/actress with a statuesque figure, real auburn hair with green eyes who could bring some integrity to the part we have ' the hottie from Bring It On who all the teenage guys like'. I personally do not find her attractive and her part in the movie is no more than 'the damsel in distress when necessary to the plot' kind. She's such a stronger character in the comic book and it's been totally ignored here. James Franco as Harry Osborne was useless. I've seen more charismatic performances from furniture. Willem Dafoe was okay as the Green Goblin but some of his dialogue was real bad, it felt like rejected Skeletor jibes from the original He-Man show. He did provoke some sympathy and coped well with the inner-turmoil story but I could not help but think that someone else could have done it better. JK Simmons and Bruce Campbell were the only bright spots among the whole cast.

27-year-old Tobey Maguire plays high school student Peter Parker. A 'boy' who is blessed with web-spinning capabilities after being bitten by a radioactive spider on a field trip. You guessed it, this is another 'origins of' story. I HATE it when comic-book superhero movies feel the need to do this. Honestly, who DOESN'T know who Spiderman is or how he got his powers? The fact that Spiderman is so popular (as a franchise) is the only reason this tawdry-looking movie was a hit. I would have had so much more respect for it if it went straight to the action and didn't waste time setting things up. No superhero movie is willing to do this and it only proves even further that Spiderman was cooked up and packaged in board room meetings.

As a way of disguising the fact that the whole thing is no more than processed cheese, eccentric director Sam Raimi was hired to direct. Known for his cheap but whacky movies Raimi had never really done anything big budget before this. The result is a meretricious, mess of a movie that is all over the place. I honestly thought I had walked into some Power Rangers movie.

The computer effects are, quite simply, hideous. Who are they honestly trying to fool with this stuff? It boggles the mind how they ended up with an Academy Award nomination. They are really, really bad. The Styrofoam shark in Jaws: The Revenge was more convincing.

Danny Elfman cranks out YET ANOTHER superhero movie score for this 'un. It's flat, boring and unimpressive. Aunt May is way too old. The Green Goblin looks like a Power Ranger. The direction is uncontrolled. It's got a poor cast. The story is nothing new or daring (check out the comic books for that). It's assembled by a boardroom committee, not crafted by people who care and it's just loud, dumb entertainment when Spiderman really should be much more.

The only part I appreciated was the way they made Spiderman's web biological instead of manufactured. It just makes so much more sense this way. Though there are loads out there who disagree with me.

The DVD is in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen (I seriously think this film would have benefited from and deserved scope-widescreen but no luck) and it looks better than average. There are some color problems and it doesn't look too crisp. The Dolby 5.1 soundtrack is typically loud and thumping but it's nothing particularly dynamic. There are quite a few extras if you're really that much of a fan. As I couldn't care any less for this film I can't comment.
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Skewed Webs
tedg10 May 2002
Warning: Spoilers
Spoilers herein.

I was profoundly disappointed in this because I expected a creative combination of two warring factions in filmmaking: the framers and the swoopers.

Comics are rooted in the icons of preliteracy evolving into stained glass: brilliant colors and grand underlying mythology. Marvel comics (Stan Lee) adjusted the idiom slightly to make the mythology more accessible, and at the same time make each panel more active. He also popularized the overlapping of static panels on the page, so that not only was each panel composed, but each assembly of panels.

Pulling on those two poles, the mythology and the framing, must be done simultaneously. By focusing more and more on the framing of the art, it allowed the referenced mythical power to increase. In other words, by making the images more static, the story became more dynamic and thus stronger. What made Spidey so novel was that his superhero action is primarily one of swooping and perching on oddly perspectived surfaces.

So this particular comic, Spiderman, provides a much richer basis for effective film art than any other because it has a unique blend of framing and swooping. To appreciate the opportunity, you need to know one of the most lasting and interesting controversies in the film world.

`Moving' pictures were seen as a sibling to `still' pictures which themselves inherited much from easel art. Similar equipment and conventions applied. All early movies placed the camera at eye level on a stationary tripod. The movement was one that a normal human observer would see. A second-order movement was introduced and mastered by Eisenstein, the movement of the camera from one shot to another. The individual shots were still from a stationary camera, but there was a choreography of the eye introduced. The setup of each shot was still essentially composed like a photo, rather like a comic panel in fact. The master of that today in film is Greenaway, but successful hacks like Speilberg mine what's been done. In fact folks like Speilberg compose their films first as comics (storyboards) and then replicate the frames.

But there emerged a new school, led by Hitchcock that had the camera moving while the action moved. By controlling those moves, Hitch's camera had personality, curiosity. Tarkovsky and later dePalma mastered this and innovated so that some rare films have the eye as a main character. Today, essentially every filmmaker has a swooping camera because he/she can and because composing the Eisenstein/Kurosawa way requires insight beyond the skills of the current crop. So we now have a community of swoopers, mostly inept, constantly copying.

So you can see how I got my hopes up. The Spiderman material was rooted in clever framing like Eisenstein/Kurosawa -- it is no accident that Peter Parker is the photographer of Spiderman.

But it also depends on referencing and exploiting the swooping eye as with Tarkovsky/dePalma. It also makes heavy use of the odd-angled architecture of Welles, which clearly spilled more from his films into comics than into successor films.

But what we get is a depressingly unoriginal treatment, wholly unaware of either the grand possibilities or even the educated eye. This is not just a pedantic concern -- you cannot have an exciting movie without an exciting eye. And this film's eye is hidden behind an inanimate mask. This is the Goblin's movie, not Spidey's
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