Friday, July 7, 2017

Movie Review: Spider-Man

Spider-Man is my favorite superhero and the films really brought him to life in various forms. I am a fan of almost every cinematic representation but the initial film truly brought the hero to life for me. I remember seeing this film on opening day back in 2002 after anticipating it for months. The film begins with a voiceover narration by Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) as he's just a dorky high school kid though a brilliant mind who reads research on nanotechnology. He's late to catch the bus for a field trip to a spider research facility and is tripped when caught staring at his crush Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst). Also attending the trip is the wealthy high school kid Harry Osborn (James Franco) who is a disappointment to his father Norman Osborn (Willem Dafoe). While taking a picture of Mary Jane, Peter is bitten by a genetically modified super spider. Norman Osborn works at Oscorp to develop a glider, an exoskeleton suit, and a super soldier performance-enhancing serum but risks losing funding without successful human trials. 

At Peter's home, Uncle Ben (Cliff Robertson) and Aunt May (Rosemary Harris) worry about their financial stability and Peter who comes home sick. Norman moves ahead with the human trial testing it on himself but it drives him crazy and he kills a researcher. Peter wakes up to find he has strange power like better eyesight, a ripped body, faster reflexes, and a strange webbing coming out of his wrists. When the bully Flash Thompson (Joe Manganiello) tries to fight him, Peter easily outmaneuvers him and punches him across the hall. He begins to experiment with his newfound abilities, crawling, jumping and swinging around buildings. The oddest thing about this film is the natural web shooting out of his arms, which at first, I thought wasn't so strange but didn't realize this was not the original way it was written in the comics. 

Peter tries to work up the courage to talk to his neighbor Mary Jane but finds that she is attracted to Flash and his cool car. He comes up with an idea to participate in a wrestling tournament, draws ideas for his suit, and practices shooting webs. Uncle Ben notices Peter is going through some changes and offers some sage advice "With great power comes great responsibility". Peter storms off to fight Bone Saw McGraw (Randy Savage) and receive his iconic name Spider-Man from the ring announcer (Bruce Campbell). Spider-Man beats Bone Saw but is ripped off by the venue owner. When a thief robs the owner, Peter does nothing to stop the theft only to find out that Uncle Ben has been shot. Grief-stricken, Spider-Man chases down the villain in the first display of the superhero action. The thief dies accidentally after fighting Spider-Man.

Norman continues to go insane, blowing up the competition. Peter, Harry, and Mary Jane graduate from high school and Spider-Man begins to foil robberies and protect citizens in New York City. J. Jonah Jameson (J.K. Simmons) suspects the hero is up to something villainous but pictures of Spider-Man sell out papers. Peter discovers that Mary Jane works at a restaurant and is dating his roommate Harry. Peter takes a job snapping pictures of Spider-Man for the Daily Bugle though the images are used by Jameson to slander him. When the board of Oscorp tries to sell the company and remove Norman, the Green Goblin attacks the Oscorp festival in Times Square killing the board and imperiling Mary Jane but Spider-Man swings in to stop him. The Green Goblin seeks out Spider-Man at the Daily Bugle and offers to work with him but Spider-Man refuses.

After being saved, Mary Jane falls for Spider-Man even kissing him upside down in an iconic scene. Green Goblin assaults Spider-Man in an apartment fire and Norman discovers that Peter is Spider-Man when he sees a cut on his arm. Green Goblin attacks Aunt May and kidnaps Mary Jane when he discovers from Harry that Peter loves her. Spider-Man confronts the villain at the Queensboro Bridge but is forced by the Green Goblin to choose between Mary Jane and a tram of innocent kids. Spider-Man saves both and with the help of the citizen of New York City, distracts the Goblin and smashes him into an abandoned building. The hero and villain brawl through brick walls and Green Goblin nearly defeats Spider-Man but Peter turns the tables, and Norman reveals his identity. Green Goblin tries to kill Spider-Man with his glider but Spider-Man flips out of the way and the glider stabs Norman. Harry vows vengeance as Peter vows to be a hero. Sam Raimi made an incredible movie that is a bit campy but fun. This film sparked the cinematic superhero revolution along with X-men showing that these films could be big budget blockbusters and of somewhat quality. While the effects don't hold up well, I don't mind revisiting the film every few years when they reboot the series. 

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