Spider-Man is directed by Sam Raimi and it is the origin story of the web-slinging hero we all know and love. When shy student Peter Parker gets bitten by an enhanced spider, he gets super strength and he can basically do anything a spider can. In this movie we see him go through the ups and downs of becoming a hero. However the Green Goblin won’t make that journey easy for him. This movie stars Tobey Maguire, Willem Dafoe, Kirsten Dunst, James Franco and Rosemary Harris.
Believe it or not it was Andrew Garfield’s Spider-Man which got me interested in the movies. I am horribly scared of spiders so I wasn’t the biggest fan of him. Even now, I spent the first sequence looking between my fingers because I was so scared. I watched these movies for the first time a couple years ago and I was in the mood to revisit them and so I thought it would not only be fun to review but also to see if it holds up, since nowadays superhero movies have taken over the entertainment industry.
I had a lot of fun with this movie. Raimi makes a superhero movie for the ages with Spider-Man. This movie is an clever, entertaining and corny time which will please people for a long time to come. Even though the effects may need some updating, the underlying themes of responsibility and good vs evil have a timeless aspect to them because they are not something which will get old over time, they are real life. That itself captured the spirit of Spider-Man more than anything else because Peter Parker’s life has always been one of a normal teen, without the hero stuff obviously. This movie is the comics and the animated show from the nineties all rolled up into one and part of why the movie feels like that is because of the pitch perfect casting choices of some of the characters. That and the smart and witty script which has some really funny humour.
This movie is really carried by two performances, Maguire’s and Dafoe’s performances as Peter / Spidey and Norman / Green Goblin. If I’m being honest, Maguire was never my favourite Spider-Man but he was always my favourite Peter Parker. Sure, this movie plays the “nerd” card up to an eleven but he makes Peter a real human with flaws. In this he is still inexperienced as Spider-Man and as a hero. He let the bad guy go in the beginning. Dafoe’s Norman is a deliciously evil role albeit over the top and corny at times. Dafoe really brings the insanity of the Green Goblin. My favourite scene with him is the one with the Thanksgiving dinner where he finds out Spider-Man’s identity. It’s intense and a really clever way. Even how Peter was wearing the Green Goblin’s colour and Norman was wearing Spider-Man’s colours. It was a brilliant scene.
That being said, while I enjoy Harris and Dunst as Aunt May and Mary Jane, their characters were just there to service the plot. They weren’t really fully realized characters. Mary Jane’s main role is the love interest. The movie does throw in the MJ wanting to become an actress sub-plot, but in this movie it’s just mentioned. Harris is sweet as Aunt May but she was just there to give speeches and be a target for the Green Goblin. However those two were nothing compared to James Franco’s Harry. Easily my least favourite character and part of the movie. He’s immensely unlikable and again this movie just uses his character as an introduction to what he’s going to do in the sequels. I don’t really understand how this Harry and Peter are really friends. Harry is a horrible friend, he even dated Mary Jane knowing Peter liked her. Obviously J.K. Simmons as J. Jonah Jameson is perfect casting.
When it comes to what the world of Spider-Man looks like, what New York looks like with these characters in them and these extraordinary events happening, this movie captures it perfectly. No discredit to TASM and the MCU Spidey movies but this trilogy felt like it was stripped from a comic book and brought to life. Even Danny Elfman’s epic musical score fits right in with the tone of the movie. It’s colourful, it has a dark tone but it’s still cheesy at times. There are underlying important lessons to be learned. This movie is classic Spider-Man and I think that beside nostalgia, this is why people love this trilogy. You are instantly sucked into this fictional version of our world.
Overall Spider-Man is a fun, fresh and entertaining movie which will continue to entertain the generations to come. Thanks to two great performances by Tobey Maguire and Willem Dafoe, we are treated to a comic-book movie which is different than the ones from today thanks to it’s over the top nature. While the secondary characters are not engaging, the movie makes up for it with a great, witty and cleverly written script.