Anthony's Film Review

Spider-Man (2002)

The first Spider-Man movie delivers plenty of good fun and excitement...

Spider-Man is one of many comic superheroes that have been brought to the big screen. While it's like any other, it's not entirely like any other. There's a unique human element to Spider-Man, a creation of Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, in that the true identity of this hero is a teenage boy named Peter Parker. This kind of character is a lot more ordinary than, let's say, billionaire Bruce Wayne. Peter Parker goes through life like anyone else but has to balance that with his actions as a hero with superpowers.

As the movie Spider-Man begins, Tobey Maguire as Peter Parker is seen almost missing a school bus and being laughed at by other students. Immediately, we see that Peter is an awkward and shy person, the kind people would call a nerd. He also has a crush on Mary Jane Watson, played by Kirsten Dunst, but fails to make significant contact. All of this continues in a school field trip to a university where Peter is accidentally bitten by a genetically modified spider. The movie does a good job introducing the character and presenting the turning point without delay.

Meanwhile, there is a scene with the antagonist. Willem Dafoe is Norman Osborn, who is conducting defense research and trying to convince the military that his project is worth funding. However, things go wrong. First, the project loses support. Then Norman takes matters into his own hands by performing an experiment on himself, which becomes disastrous. Like Peter's spider bite, Norman's accident is a turning point for the character. He becomes (you guessed it) the Green Goblin.

Even with the setup for action, the movie proceeds further with the human story. While discovering and getting acquainted with new physical abilities, Peter continues to live with Aunt May (Rosemary Harris) and Uncle Ben (Cliff Robertson), attempt to woo Mary Jane, and hang out with his friend Harry Osborn (James Franco), who is the son of Norman Osborn. There's also one character whose funny performance balances the rest of the movie: J. Jonah Jameson (J.K. Simmons), the gruff, hyperactive editor of the Daily Bugle where Peter gets a job as a photographer.

The superhero action doesn't really start until about halfway through the movie. After all, this is the first Spider-Man movie, which chooses to provide the origin of the protagonist. Even then, it's worth the wait. The action between Spider-Man and the Green Goblin is intense, electrifying, and eye-popping. The climactic action sequence is certainly no exception. When it's all over, the movie wraps things up but leaves it open for the next installment.

Overall, Spider-Man is pretty good. It has enough action to be an action movie and enough character focus to make it a decent drama. Of course, you don't want too much of one over the other. At one point, I was wondering if the movie went overboard with the drama such that the action was overshadowed. In my opinion, it came close but didn't cross the line. Any Spider-Man sequel should stick with the formula of this first movie, which has certainly done it right.

Anthony's Rating:

For more information about Spider-Man, visit the Internet Movie Database.

In addition, check out my reviews of Spider-Man 2 and Spider-Man 3.


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