REVISITING SPIDER-MAN: SPIDER-MAN (2002)
By: Huriyyah Hameed
"Whatever life holds in store for me, I will never forget these words. With great power comes great responsibility. This is my gift, my curse. Who am I? I'm Spider-man."
The cast includes Tobey Maguire as Peter Parker, Cliff Robertson as Ben Parker, Rosemary Harris as May Parker, Kirsten Dunst as Mary Jane, Willem Dafoe as Norman Osborn, James Franco as Harry Osborn, J. K. Simmons as J. Jonah Jameson and Joe Manganiello as Flash Thompson. It was officially released on 03 May 2002. It was directed by Sam Raimi, written by David Koepp and produced by Ian Bryce and Laura Ziskin.
We are introduced to our "original" Spider-man in this movie. It starts off with Peter introducing us to who he is which is a nerdy, orphaned teenager in high school who gets bullied a lot and lives with his uncle and aunt. He gets bitten by a genetically enhanced spider and goes through a second puberty of sorts, the details of which are quite disturbing. The crew behind this movie decided to go with organic webshooters which, as most comic fans agree, is disgusting. Of course, he's in love with his childhood friend Mary Jane who lives next door and attends the same school. They don't seem very close in the movie and have not established any sort of "best friend" relationship. To impress her, Peter hopes to buy a car and sees an ad for amateur wrestlers in the paper so he signs up, hoping to use his newfound abilities to get enough money for the car. He wins the match but doesn't get paid and the place gets robbed. Off goes the thief with all the money, including what should have been Peter's payment yet Peter doesn't stop him which results in the thief shooting his uncle that very day.
Guilt-ridden Spider-man. That's it. That's the whole movie. There was barely a quip in the whole two hours of runtime whereas in the comics you'll have one every other page or in the cartoons, every other minute. A very non-Spidey-like character is all I see.
Don't get me wrong, Tobey made an excellent Peter. In fact, I still think he's the best Peter yet but he was a terrible Spider-man.
He didn't have what it takes to pull off that character and he always had this weird, half-smiling expression that put off the atmosphere of the more serious scenes.
The movie was structured for kids with its colours, style and execution. That I understand.
But there is absolutely no need for the cringe-worthy dialogue from start to finish. It's so poorly written. But the nostalgia makes me somewhat comfortable with it in a way that's hard to explain. There is no proper flow in the dialogue, it almost seems forced.
William Dafoe was excellent though. From his general acting to the way he delivered his lines to his villainous monologue. Apart from Dafoe, James Franco did a believable job with Harry Osborn. The rest were just uncomfortable, mostly Kirsten as Mary Jane.
Very, very few people would think her portrayal as one of the most popular non-hero characters in Marvel comics was noteworthy or at least tolerable. The acting of the z-grade criminals in the movie were honestly terrible and I can't believe they got away with it just because they weren't major characters.
The movie itself had the signature late 90's-early 2000's atmosphere, CGI and the way the story progresses. It's like watching Batman Returns (from before my time) and Home Alone and all the good stuff from my childhood. The most satisfying scene from the movie was watching Peter beat up Flash Thompson. Honestly, I've replayed that so many times.
My main problem is, Peter is portrayed as a typical nerd but not the true scientific genius that he is and thathas built this impression among people about Peter Parker the same way most people don't know Groot (along with the rest of his kind) is superior in intellect than most, if not all the characters in Guardians of the Galaxy. Peter's mechanical webshooters were an indicator of his genius as they baffled even the likes of Tony Stark and he was only 15 when he made them.
The movie itself is not engaging enough, though. It drags too long and takes too much time to build up to the action and the key points in the story. But it's all worth it when at the end, we see the New Yorkers banding up together to help Spider-man because they become one, he is truly accepted as the city's hero and we get to see Peter finally getting angry which is great. If we can't have funny, quipping Spider-man, angry Spider-man is the second best. "No matter what I do, no matter how hard I try, the ones I love will always be the ones who pay." And this will be a recurring theme throughout Spider-man's life and every movie.
Everything else aside, despite the faults of the film, watch it for the nostalgia. It highlights the good memories so it's still a great watch, especially with your family. Next time, we'll take a look at Spider-man 2.
Until then, your friendly neighbourhood Spider-man will always be there to save the day.
Or will he?
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