a critiQal film review Spider-Man (2002)

Plot: Peter Parker (Maguire) is a bit of an outcast at school with only one friend, and a girl he's madly in love with (Dunst), but too shy to talk to. After being bitten by a "super" spider on a class field trip, he's amazed to discover he's taken on the characteristics of the spider! All is not well, however, as the father of his friend, Norman Osborn (Dafoe), experiments with a bit of "super serum" of his own and becomes the maniacal Green Goblin. It's up to Peter to stop him, before the Green Goblin can ruin his life.

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  • ...Hollywood does it's best to try to destroy ol' web-head's legacy completely.

This is the most hyped movie of the summer, even outdoing Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (1999). This movie has been on again/off again so many times, I started to mistake it for a light switch.

After hearing the massive hype, and seeing the box office records falling by the wayside ($200 million in 9 days!), I was suckered into seeing Spider-Man. Being a big fan of the comic books myself, I also wanted to see if Hollywood would be able to live up to the comic books’ legendary hero.

They didn’t. Plain and simple.

Tobey Maguire has to be one of the worst actors working today. He was never believable, and he didn’t bring any life to the main character in Spider-Man at all. They could have substituted a wooden dummy for some of the scenes, and I don’t think people really would have noticed. Kristen Dunst was pretty good as Mary Jane, though. Willem Dafoe, in his dual role of Norman Osborn and the Green Goblin, also gave a good performance.

The Spider-Man script had some major errors in it, and I couldn’t figure out why Stan Lee gave the go-ahead to it. The ability of Spider-Man to shoot webs straight out of his hands comes to mind immediately. If the writer had opened one of the comics, he would have noticed that Spider-Man had to build special “web-shooters,” and design “web fluid,” since HE CAN’T DO THAT.

The best scene, I thought, was the debut of Spider-Man in a wrestling match. Not because of has-been wrestler Randy “Macho Man” Savage, or (of course) because of Tobey Maguire, but because of Sam Raimi’s old The Evil Dead (1981)/Army of Darkness pal, Bruce Campbell, popping up as the ring announcer.

The special effects in Spider-Man were pretty good, except in the area of the webs. At some points, it looks a lot like string attached from his hands to whatever he’s trying to hook onto (especially in the final battle), and looks ridiculous. I think a bit of CGI would have been in order there.

All in all, a major disappointment. If you haven’t already seen Spider-Man, and you are a fan of the comic books, don’t go. If you have never picked up one of the comic books, the major discrepancies won’t bother you, but you’ll still groan at Tobey Maguire’s abysmal performance.

Then of course, you have to wait out the rest of the film, or (more than likely) leave and try to get your money back.

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