Monday, December 17

Spider-man Review

Version played for review: Blu-Ray
Available on: Online rental, Download, DVD and Blu-Ray
Price I paid: £8 (3 film boxset on eBay)
Other Notes: N/A

Sam Raimi’s Spider-man was one of the first major superhero successes in cinema. Although not Spidey’s first time on film with the often forgotten 1977 film series before it. Those films lacked the technology and budget to really capture the Web-Head. Raimi and his Spider-man film promised to bring the character to life for the first time. A lot of people love this film as well as its sequel but is it as good as most people remember it being?

Although most of you have already seen this film I still want to avoid spoilers for the one person that hasn’t. The basic plot without any major details is that Peter Parker gets bitten by a special science spider and gains spider powers. He can sense danger, crawl on walls and spin webbing from his wrists. At the same time Norman Osborne becomes the Green Goblin and so the two have to battle with Peter’s friends and family getting in the way. On his way to becoming Spider-man Peter lets a thief get away as a form of revenge. This leads to Peter’s Uncle Ben getting shot and killed. In the comics uncle Ben is a very important character and his death really does mean a lot to both Peter and the story. In the film, most of his dialogue is terribly forced exposition. Because of this, I felt no connection to him which took away from what should have been a heart-wrenching scene.

Then we have Mary Jane who is a 2-dimensional woman with no personality at all. She is nothing more than a plot device with a pretty face. In the comics despite living next door to each other Peter and MJ never meet until their young adult years after being set up by Aunt May. In this film, Peter pretty much spies on her when she’s in her room from his window and borderline stalks her. To be honest when it comes to MJ Peter is really creepy. During one scene he admits to taking 2 buses and cab to get into the neighbourhood just to bump into her. While I understand these scenes are supposed to frame Peter as a nice guy who cares about MJ all they really do is make him look like a creep. I feel like he is just 1 rejection away from calling her an ugly slut via text message.

Not all the characters are this terrible with Norman Osborne and Aunt May easily being the best things about the film. William Dafoe really overacts the Green Goblin which creates this obvious but fun split between the Goblin and Norman. I can’t think of a better actor to do this campy comic book villain in the same way. Then you have Aunt May portrayed by Rosemary Harris who plays the ever so sweet and loving May Parker perfectly. I honestly don’t think we’ve had a better Aunt May since her. During all of her scenes, I just wanna jump into the film and give her the biggest hug. It feels like how I remember the character from the comics. Toby Maguire does a pretty decent job at playing Peter. He does feel like a well-meaning but very socially awkward geek with everyone expect MJ. Sadly he is never as good when he has the Spidey suit on. I think this is because of how static the mask is. During the comics, artists use the big black and white eyes to convey a lot of Spidey’s emotions. This isn’t possible with the mask during this film and Maguire’s acting isn’t strong enough to push past that.

Spider-man does have a lot of good points like the clever use of camera position, sound effects and music. I just feel like while I love Sam Raimi’s directing I don’t think he is very well suited for a Spider-man film. The tone comes off more as camp but creepy in the same way that Raimi’s Evil Dead films do. A good example of what I mean without spoiling anything is Spidey’s webbing. In the comics, Peter invents both the webbing and the wrist-mounted devices he fires it from. The film has it come from Peter’s body firing from his wrist. This takes what was a clever way to show how resourceful and intelligent Peter is and turns it into mild body horror. Sam Raimi’s Spider-man is a great film by a great director but it’s a bad Spider-man film. If you’re one of the many people that love this film then you’re not wrong. It’s fantastic and a lot of fun. I just find it’s not the same character I love from the comic books. As such in my opinion, it’s lacking as a film about Spider-man.

Recommendation Rating: 7 out of 10.

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