Saturday, July 1, 2017

Movie Review: "Spider-Man" (2002)

Director: Sam Raimi
Year: 2002
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 2 hours, 1 minutes

A high school senior gets bitten by a genetically enhanced spider and receives spider-like super abilities, but he quickly learns with great power comes great responsibility.

"Spider-Man" is directed by Sam Raimi, who is best known for "The Evil Dead" series, as well as the film "Dark Man." It is written by David Koepp, who had previously worked on the screenplays for "Mission Impossible" and "Stir of Echoes." This film is, of course, based on the long-running fan favorite comic book series. It stars Tobey Maguire as Peter Parker/Spider-Man, a nerdy, know-it-all high school kid-turned-superhero. Joining him are Kirsten Dunst, who plays Mary Jane Watson, the girl Peter Parker has had a crush on since they were children; James Franco, who plays Harry Osborn, Peter's only other friend; and Willem Dafoe as Harry's father Norman, who runs Oscorp, a company that develops high-tech weaponry for the military. When Norman decides to test one of his inventions on himself, it starts to drive him mad and splits his personality in two, one of which manifests itself into the evil Green Goblin. Meanwhile, on a class field trip, Peter is bitten by a genetically engineered super spider, which has given him not only perfect vision and a new super muscly physique but also awesome super powers. Once he learns how to use them, Peter decides to implement them and become a crime fighter after his Uncle Ben, played by Cliff Robertson, is killed by a car-jacker, an incident Peter could have prevented if he had only acted sooner. Also in the film in smaller capacities are J.K. Simmons, Rosemary Harris, Joe Manganiello, and Elizabeth Banks. 

For a few years following the travesty of "Batman & Robin," comic book superhero films were on shaky ground. These movies began to get back on the right path with "X-Men," but it was "Spider-Man truly really showed what a box office juggernaut comic book films could be, earning a whopping $821.7 million at the worldwide box office. This flick really exhibited the potential movies like this had, not only from a financial and pop culture standpoint but from a storytelling and visual perspective as well.

This original "Spider-Man" movie winds up being very engaging. It combines powerful emotion with a good dose humor, goofiness, and action. To us, upon revisit, the acting is solid. We know some people aren't fans of Tobey Maguire as Spider-Man, but we maintain he does a fine job as this character as he is believable as both a nerdy kid and a witty superhero trying to do the right thing to atone for a big mistake he made. Director Sam Raimi and writer David Koepp do take a few liberties with the character, turning Spider-Man's web-shooting ability into a biological feature rather than a gadget he wears, but we honestly don't mind these changes. In addition to Maguire, Kirsten Dunst is excellent as Mary Jane Watson, the unrequited love of Peter Parker's life. They have great chemistry as friends, and we definitely buy them as potential lovers. Willem Dafoe does a fantastic as Norman Osborn/the Green Goblin, but only when he's not forced to wear his horrible dollar store Halloween costume. He looks and sounds threatening enough without a clown suit. Finally, you can't beat J.K. Simmons as J. Jonah Jameson. It's as if this part was specifically made for him, and though Simmons is only in the film for a short amount of time, he absolutely nails the part and has become an internet legend because of it.

15 years have passed since "Spider-Man" was first released. In that time period, we've seen many different Marvel and DC films exploring all sorts of characters, good and bad. With so many advancements in technology, it does feel like many aspects of this version of everybody's friendly neighborhood fav are a little outdated and a bit cheesy in retrospect. As we mentioned earlier, we have never been fans of the Green Goblin's costume, and it has seriously only gotten worse with age. The CGI is also a bit more obvious now and can be hit and miss at times, but it isn't as terrible as some of the movies from the early 2000's, and most importantly, doesn't distract from the final product. Looking at this project for the first time in a very long time, we still have a blast watching "Spider-Man." It holds a certain level of nostalgia for us. It's got a lot of charm and heart and delivers a great introduction to the character of Peter Parker, as well as the origin of Spider-Man. Some will argue Tobey Maguire is all wrong for the part, but we think he mostly gives a memorable performance. Let's see if we feel the same way about its two sequels.

My Rating: 8/10
BigJ's Rating: 8/10
IMDB's Rating: 7.3/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 89%
Do we recommend this movie: Yes!


  1. Ugh. I haven't seen Spider-Man in years! Though I've been meaning to get around to it.
    Probably will rewatch this and Spider-Man 2 this week. I'll make that my goal.
    Who is your favourite Spidey? Toby, Andrew or Tommy?

    1. Hey Max!

      You totally should watch the old "Spider-Man" movies before "Homecoming"! It has been fun to go back and see them all again. 2 is definitely the best one. Our favorite? Difficult to say Tom when he's only had a limited opportunity to play Peter Parker/Spider-Man up until now, but he was very impressive in "Civil War." We like Tobey in 1 & 2, and think Andrew was fine as Spider-Man, but too emo as Peter Parker. How about you?