With the success of "X-Men" in 2000 towards a mainstream audience, it was only going to be time that Hollywood realized that comic book movies could actually be profitable. So why not bring to the big screen one of the most beloved Marvel heroes that's never seen the silver screen...Spider-Man. Of course, this film could have easily spelled disaster at any time but luckily with a smart director, fairly strong cast, and a story that remains (in essence not necessarily in the details) to the comic "Spider-Man" overcomes a lot of obstacles to create a fairly efficient and effective film.
Peter Parker is less than your average high school student. He is amazingly smart, especially at science, but he is somewhat of an awkward kid whom can't stand up for himself or seem to impress the girl of his dreams...fellow classmate Mary Jane. That is until a radioactive spider bites him and he finds himself with a slew of new powers - spider like powers. Naturally, as the way the world works in comics, Peter's responsibility is tested when Norman Osborn goes crazy and takes on a new personality as a vile villain, the Green Goblin.
It's hard to express how surprised I was at how good this film actually came out. Spider-Man is a tough story to make into a semi-serious film, but with some sharp writing and a director with some serious vision it comes off nicely. It never takes it self too seriously yet is able to give enough of the darker sides of the story to give it weight. It also has a pretty solid cast. Tobey Maguire might have been some of the best casting as Parker and of course Willem Dafoe as Norman Osborn couldn't be any better either. The supporting cast is a little more hit or miss, James Franco as Osborn's son is solid as is J.K. Simmons as Parker's boss. My only issue with "Spider-Man" casting is Kirsten Dunst whom has never tickled my fancy on screen (sans her stellar work in "Interview With The Vampire") and she doesn't here either.
If I had any huge major complaints about "Spider-Man" there would be two. Firstly, there is a shit ton of CGI for the film. Although with the scope of the film and the concept, it would have been hard to do without it (perhaps that is why it has taken so long for the web slinger to hit the big screen) but it would have been nice to see it at least hindered a bit. Secondly, this film definitely feels watered down when it comes to the visual and directorial quirkiness of Sam Raimi. It still has some of its moments (Peter trying to leap across buildings his first few times) that spoke of Raimi's style, but overall it definitely feels like it was a bit more watered down for the general audience. As a massive Raimi fan, that sort of irks me.
"Spider-Man" is quite the trip though, giving the comic enough of a brush over to make it its own film. Its sleek and quick moving and balances the humor and seriousness nicely. Although its not the best comic book movies I have ever seen, it can hold its own weight nicely.
BONUS RANT: I hate, hate, hate the title sequence for this film. Its a knock off of a ton of other comic book movies and Danny Elfman ALWAYS DOES THE SAME INTRO SCORE FOR THESE MOVIES. Luckily the rest of the film it doesn't really follow the cliche that is this intro. Too bad its not a great way to start the film.