So, he finally made it. After over a decade of false starts and missed chances, Spider-Man has eventually made it to cinema screens worldwide. Sam Raimi, famed for his low budget, non-studio outings, was the popular but somewhat surprising choice of director to steer this huge $100million+ comic book adaptation. But, in a world where Peter Jackson can go from 'Brain Dead' to 'Lord Of The Rings' in a few easy steps, it shouldn't really have come as too much of a shock.
And Raimi doesn't disappoint. Even though his previous studio efforts ('The Gift', 'A Simple Plan') were rather patchy affairs, his obvious love for the source material is very apparent here and as a result, we get one of the best superhero adaptations in recent cinema history. In much the same way that 'X-Men' did, the film takes its time to develop the central characters so that, when the action does hit, the audience has more emotional investment in the outcome.
Tobey Maguire is excellent as Peter Parker. Calling on his indie/alternative roots, he injects the character with an almost painful amount of 'goofiness' that never once strays into the realms of parody. The transition he makes from school-nerd to action man is well handled too, as he initially tries to use his new super-powers to impress the girl next door and earn some fast cash, before realising that 'with great power, comes great responsibility'.
Kirsten Dunst provides ample eye-candy in her rather underwritten role as Mary Jane Watson, Peter/Spidey's love interest, but the relationship between the two is nicely done, even if her part basically calls for her to wear skimpy clothing and get wet every so often. Here's hoping for a more substantial part in the inevitable sequel.
The real fun here, however, is to be found with Willem Defoe. Clearly having the time of his life, he injects his role as the Green Goblin with oodles of venom and spite. And his evil cackle will be ringing in your ears for days after you see the movie!
It's in the last third of the film, once Peter Parker finally makes the transition to Spidey, the FX artists really take the film over with some truly breathtaking shots as we follow our hero swinging through the streets of downtown New York. However, this is also where the film finds some of it's few stumbling blocks - with some occasionally suspect CGI coming into play. But - hey, we're watching a film about a geek who gets bitten by a spider and develops the ability to climb walls and shoot webs from his wrist.... surely our disbelief has been well and truly suspended anyway....
Go and see it - but watch out for those whirling shots through between the skyscrapers.... and don't eat beforehand!
Spiderman Picture from http://www.columbiatristar.co.uk/