Stan Lee’s comic is brought to life on the big screen by director Sam Raimi. Most big-screen adaptations of comic books tend to focus on the fighting the bad guys part, with little to none of the personal aspects of life taken into account. The time when Spidey (Tobey Maguire) is Peter Parker is when this movie shines. Whenever Spidey meets the half-rate villain The Green Goblin (Willem Dafoe) the movie kinda falls apart.
“With great power, comes great responsibility, etc.” is this movie’s tag-line. Director Sam Raimi sure as hell had great power when he took hold of the ship that was Spider-Man. After several failed scripts and an attempt by James Cameron, Raimi took the wheel. He does an admirable job, bringing the original characters from the comic to life well. Spider-Man is a great hero, he just doesn’t have much of a villain to deal with this time around.
Tobey Maguire’s character is believable as a blundering science-wiz who happens to be bitten by a genetic super-spider, which gives him super powers. The transformation that Peter Parker undergoes is one of the better parts of this movie. One hilarious scene features a steel cage, Randy Savage, and ring commentary by Bruce Campbell of Evil Dead fame.
With a cracking voice and meek demeanor, Parker suddenly gains super abilities, like super strength and the ability to shoot web shit out of his wrists. Watching him sling from building to building is definitely one of the most exciting parts of the movie. Listening to Willem Dafoe’s cackling laugh is not. As Norman Osborn, neighborhood arms dealer, he is scarier than the villain. In one scene, his son comes home hear devilish cackling coming out of his father’s room, only to think nothing of it when his dad appears and the cackling ceases. Following their sappy conversation, I half expected Dafoe to excuse himself for another cackling binge.
The Green Goblin is just a bad villain, plain and simple. He isn’t really sinister, and his fixed expression is not nearly as scary as Dafoe’s own face. The comic is teeming with villains, such as Doctor Octopus, who would have been better choices. Hopefully the next film won’t just be about Harry Osborn turning into (gasp) The Green Goblin 2. But hell, that’ll probably happen.
The script by David Koepp is humorous and well-written. Don Burgess made the movie look great, and the whole package is brought together by Danny Elfman’s inspired score. The performances by Kirsten Dunst as Mary Jane and James Fanco as Parker’s friend and son of his arch-enemy Harry Osborn are both fine. Justice is done to the comic in this movie.
We can only hope that the next movie has a better bad guy.