Sam Raimi directs Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst and Willem Dafoe in this blockbuster introduction to the Peter Parker superhero mythology.
Summer 2002. This was it. The big one. And its still pretty pretty good. Pretty bitty. That’s the issue. It is collage of iconic comic book moments funnelled into some kinda pipe of a story. We get radioactive bites, unrequited romance, discovery of powers, high school tables being turned, the birth of the Green Goblin, costumes being designed, a wrestling match, the death of Uncle Ben… An hour in and we still really haven’t had a consistent Spider-Man action sequence. More montages, more soap, Peter and MJ are adults in the job market! Still not a lot of sustained excitement. Well… Raimi deploys his Evil Dead / Darkman extreme framing, brash colour scheme and energetic editing to tie it all together. You really feel like you are racing through an omnibus of Spider-Man’s golden years on holiday.
It probably didn’t help that they filmed that teaser trailer World Trade Centre action sequence and then couldn’t put it in the film. Are you seriously telling me something as big budget and epic as that wasn’t originally intended for the middle act of the actual movie? Because the middle of the movie is severely lacking such a sequence.
The bad stuff feels muted now. A charming product of its time. The Green Goblin’s stiff toyified armour is still as stinky as you remember. Dafoe’s performance is pretty randomly generated… but his character is having a year long psychotic break?! The great stuff still shines through… Dunst is luminescent in her first adult role, the swinging around Manhattan sequences have a real adrenaline rush to them, J.K. Simmons utterly owns laughter generator J. Jonah Jameson. So Spider-Man V1.1 is all over the shop as a narrative… all the heavy lifting is out of the way for the sequels and you could never accuse one second of it as being dull.
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