May 3, 2002
A miraculous thing has occurred, there has finally been a comic book to film adaptation that borders on perfection. There have been many movies whose inspiration is milked from the comic book, some have worked, some havenít. There are two spectrums: those that succeed and those that fail. The good ones include Batman and Batman Returns, Superman and Superman II, Blade II, Men in Black and X-Men. The list of bad ones is far greater in length, including such movies as Batman Forever and Batman & Robin, Spawn, Blade and the unforgivable Superman III and Superman IV.
But Spider-Man is far from bad, it is possibly the best comic book movie ever to hit the big screen. Fans of Spidey will be thrilled to see him kick butt on the silver screen and even people who have no idea on who Spider-Man is will find something to like about it. Nothing is wrong with this picture, itís beautifully cast, the special effects looks spectacular and the direction is wonderful. Tobey Maguire is perfectly cast as the hero of the story, delivering the infamous Spidey one liners like a champ. He gives the story a heart. You genuinely feel for the characters. Kirsten Dunst looks great and plays with a certain sensitivity which only intensifies how one feels towards her. And Willem Dafoe, well what can be said about Mr. Dafoe that hasnít already been said before? He plays Norman Osborne and his split personality the Green Goblin with a gritty reality, strangely said considering he parades for half his screen time in a metallic green costume. He is probably one of the most frightening villains ever to grace the majestic screen, in fact he is the best onscreen villain since Jack Nicholson fought off Batman in 1989.
This movieís special effects help give the movie a personality all its own. The special effects give you the feeling that you are inside an issue of the beloved comic book. Sam Raimi, best known for his work with the Evil Dead trilogy (Evil Dead, Evil Dead II: Dead by Dawn and Army of Darkness) would seem like an unlikely choice for a picture like this and it is. But Raimi pulls it off, the movie looks amazing, the camera has a mind of its own and it pays off. Raimi never likes to keep the camera dormant, he is always playing with camera angles, trying to create inventive new shots and everything only heightens the impact. There is a little bit of everything. This movie has something for everyone. Whether it be the hard-core Spider-Man fan, the hopeless romantic, the die hard action fan or the comedian. Parents might be weary of bringing little ones to this though because the action sequences are intense, not overly violent, just intense.
It isnít everyday that we get a mainstream movie that actually delivers the goods, in fact, I wouldnít be surprised if it didnít get at least a hand full of Academy Award nominations next March. It may be a long time away but there hasnít been a movie of this caliber in a long time. Spider-Man may not win an award for best picture but it should.
When Stan Lee conceived Spider-Man about 40 years ago he knew he had a winner. In the next two years, there will be an onslaught of Marvel comics making the transition to the big screen including X-Men 2, Hulk, Ghost Rider and the Fantastic Four. Oh and Spider-Man II. I only hope that they can be half as good as this.
-Andrew "Banky" D.