Newest Review: ... especially the action scenes. Kristen Dunst plays Mary Jane, the girl that Peter is in love with. She plays a somewhat innocent, but not ... more
Spider-man Indeed does whatever a spider can!
Member Name: jonnyfun06
Advantages: One of the best comic book characters to be brought to life
Disadvantages: Picture quality not great for a new movie!
In the summer of 2001, while waiting for the main feature to start in a dingy cinema somewhere, I was treated to perhaps the most electrifying movie trailer that I have ever seen. It started off with a heist, with the crooks escaping by helicopter from the roof of a high-rise building. The camera follows their daring flight through the manmade canyons of Manhattan until they end up snared in a massive web strung between the twin towers of the World Trade Centre. That one trailer sparked my imagination to such a degree that I cannot even recall the name of the film I saw that day. Subsequent events rendered that trailer in bad taste, and I doubt the trailer even exists today. It's certainly not on the Spider-Man DVD, though it may be the only thing that isn't.
Peter Parker is your average introverted orphan kid with a crush on the girl next door. Unfortunately Mary Jane Watson is the girlfriend of the typical school jock, while Peter is the nerdish school paper photographer that everyone picks on. Fortunately he has some positives in his life, he lives with his Uncle Ben and Aunt May who dote on him, his friend Harry's father, industrialist Norman Osborn also keeps a keen interest in how young Peter is doing.
Oscorp is poised to complete a deal with the military to provide performance enhancing drugs, but a disinterested General is poised to let the deal fall through if the drug isn't proved successful. On the same fateful day that Peter Parker is bitten by a genetically modified spider, Norman Osborn decides to test the serum on himself with catastrophic results. That very night, both Spider-Man and the Green Goblin enter the world.
Peter initially uses his powers for personal gain, but tragedy makes him realise the responsibility of his powers. After graduating from school he heads for the Big Apple to pursue his future, unaware that an explosive confrontation with the Green Goblin awaits that will define his character.
Spider-Man comes with a 1.85:1 anamorphic transfer, which is acceptable. The picture is a tad grainy, a little soft and the contrast seems lacking. There were even one or two blips of print damage, which was surprising for such a recent film. But by and large, Spider-Man is a colourful and vibrant film and that does come through strongly on the disc.
The effects are also very well accomplished and Spider-Man is brought to life with verve and panache. The CGI is impressive throughout and the movie comes together as a seamless whole. That said there were one or two moments where CG Spidey seemed a little 'light' and insubstantial, but this still proves a wonderful demonstration of what technology is capable of.
A DD 5.1 English track is provided on this disc and it is a well-accomplished and impressive mix that immerses you in the film. The surrounds are put to notable use in the action sequences and suit this film well. The score is a Danny Elfman one and he provides an individual and inspiring theme for Spider-Man
The 2-disc set is a boon for movie fans and comic book fans alike and is almost overflowing with extras and goodies. The booklet, as well as containing much advertising has a couple of pages of production notes, and the discs have some brilliantly designed menus.
On Disc 1, as well as the film, it contains two commentaries, both in DD 2.0 Surround. The Filmmakers and Cast commentary is provided by Sam Raimi, Grant Curtis, Laura Ziskin and Kirsten Dunst, while the Visual Effects Designer and Crew commentary is provided by John Dykstra. I personally found the effects commentary the more interesting one, as with a film such as Spider-Man the effects crew actually have more of interest to talk about.
If you enable the SpiderSense webisodes from the main menu, A little Spidey head will pop up from time to time in the film and allow you to access little featurettes pertinent to that particular scene. There are interviews with the Spider Wrangler, the wrestler Randy Savage aka BoneSaw, the model maker and more. I would have preferred to be able to watch the featurettes separately though.
Weaving the Web is a trivia subtitle track that pops up comic book style captions through the movie with little titbits of info, although a couple flash by too quickly to read.
The Character Files gives a filmography for the main actors in the movie.
With disc 2, this disc is divided into 2 sections focussing on the movie or the comic.
Web of Spider-Man: The Comic contains three subsections. The Activision Game: Hints and Tips provides some game footage with a voiceover. The DVD ROM link leads to an explanation of what you will find if you have a PC. But the meat of the goodies is in The Evolution Of Spider-Man.
Spider-Man: The Mythology of the 21st Century is a 26-minute documentary with interviews with Stan Lee and various artists who discuss the birth and the development of the Spider-Man comic.
The Spider-Man Archives looks at some classic covers and stories through the years in the form of a gallery.
The Artists Gallery is a look at some great artwork and sketches from the film.
The Loves of Peter Parker gives biographies of all the women in Spider-Man's life.
The Rogues Gallery is a look at the villains that have plagued Spider-Man and are presented in the form of a 3D representation of the character with selectable biographies and statistics.
Goblin's Lair contains the promotional material associated with the film. This kicks of with HBO: The Making Of Spider-Man, A 25-minute look at just that with interviews with the cast and crew and some behind the scenes footage.
"Spider-Mania" An E! Entertainment Special is a 40 minute look at the whole Spider-Man phenomenon associated with the film and again contains interviews with the cast and crew but is plagued with an annoying voiceover and a tendency to frivolity.
There is a Director Profile, 7 minutes, which looks at Sam Raimi but comes across as little more than an appreciation society.
More interesting is the Composer Profile lasting a similar length of time that looks at Danny Elfman. He gives an insight into how he works which makes this a better piece.
Finally there are some screen tests and some gag reel footage that lasts about 10 minutes in total.
Nowadays when it comes to comic book conversions, films like the X-Men and the Matrix have raised the bar considerably. Stylistically and in terms of narrative, films have to go the extra mile to impress, and Spider-Man doesn't quite make it. It is perfect summer movie material, giving great visuals for you to chew your popcorn by, but there is a little something lacking that stops it being great movie and settles for being a good one instead.
However Spider-Man is notable for reversing one particular trend, that of comic book movies having to be dark and moody to be interesting. Spider-Man manages to be light, bright and engaging, yet remains true to the characters and story without lapsing into shadowy brooding stereotypes.
Tobey Maguire is perfectly cast as Peter Parker and makes the role his own. He nails the introverted teenager perfectly and gives him a sensitivity and humanity that really gives the audience something to relate to. Willem Dafoe as Norman Osborn/Green Goblin is excellent, and he takes what could easily have been a laughable role and makes it sinister and disturbing.
But for me the star of the movie has to be J K Simmons whose character of J Jonah Jameson, the editor in chief of the Daily Bugle is inspired. The hard-bitten newsman is a joy to watch and is utterly entertaining. Unfortunately that is where the notable performances end.
While Kirsten Dunst is gorgeous in every way and does her best with the character of Mary Jane Watson, I found that Mary Jane was quite underwritten and gave little opportunity to shine, ending up little more than a damsel in distress. Similarly, James Franco is hardly noticeable as Harry Osborn.
The film remains balanced on a precipice for much of the 2 hours, poised between laughably camp and seriousness, but while there are laughs and thrills, it never strays from that fine line and Sam Raimi carries it all off with aplomb.
Spider-Man isn't a great film, but it is a good one, and will be at home in any film collection. The picture quality isn't the best in the world, but the discs are overflowing with extras to sate the appetite of any comic fan. One or two minor niggles with the discs aside; you still get hours of goodness from this package. Thoroughly recommended
Summary: Rent it, Watch it, Love it, Buy it!