Tobey Maguire, Willem Dafoe, Kirsten Dunst
Directed By:
Sam Raimi

Before I start this, I need to point something out: I know next to nothing about the Spider-man comic book series. I mean, I liked the idea of a normal guy having super spider powers, but the series never really grabbed me like say, Batman or Superman did. That said, after seeing the film, I really wish I had taken an interest in Spider-man earlier, as there is obviously a rich history involved with the character.

That history is where the movie spends the first hour or so, explaining the back-story of Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) and how he became your friendly neighborhood Spider-man. It also tells of his longtime crush on Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst), his friendship with Norman Osborn/Green Goblin (Willem Dafoe) and his son Harry, and his Aunt May and Uncle Ben, who have raised him since he was a young child. The movie initially focuses on Peter struggling to come to grips with the power he has gained, and the many ways he learns to use that power. These are some of the best scenes in the movie, he designs his costume, experiments with his webbing and climbing walls, and deals with the responsibility this power brings with it.

This is also where some long time followers of the comic may have a few issues with the movie. In the comics Peter is bitten by a radioactive spider, the movie changes this to a genetically enhanced spider. Also changed is how Spider-man's webbing comes about. The comics had Peter making cartridges that would run out of webbing; while in the film it is organic, originating from Peter himself. However in my eyes, that didn't detract from the movie at all

The story takes a turn mid way through, focusing on Spider-man using his powers for good, to thwart criminals and the arrival of the Green Goblin. There are some great sequences of Spider-man flying throughout the city, and while they were generated with CG, they look amazingly real. The movie did a fantastic job of letting the audience feel what it would be like to swing from skyscraper to skyscraper, to cling to the side of a building and then free fall to the ground below, only to catch yourself just in time to swing to the next one. The Green Goblin is also well done, from his flying glider to his trademark Pumpkin Bombs, and the constant personality battle that Norman Osborn fights with his alter ego. The fights between Spider-man and Green Goblin are awesome, buildings crumble, people are tossed through walls; it really was like an epic battle between two super heroes.

The only downside is that the movie spends so much time explaining the back-story of Spider-man, that the crime fighting and final confrontations feel a bit rushed, like they tried to cram too much story into too little time. Overall this isn't a problem, it leaves plenty to be explored in future movies. Whether you have been a fan of the comic books for years, or first heard of Spider-man through the trailers for the film, you should see this movie. There couldn't have been a better film to kick off the summer blockbuster season; this will surely be among the top hits of the year.

- - Darken Rahl

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