Last night, I went to the movies expecting to see
a flick based on Spider-Man. Instead, I was
treated to a movie starring Spider-Man. You know
how to read more. I should warn you that there
are some mild and ambiguous spoilers below.

Premise

A typical teenage geek gets bitten by an atypical
spider. He
transforms into the kind of person that’s
required to defend the city
from its newest pyschotic.

Cast, Crew, and Other Info

Cast
Tobey
Maguire
as
Peter Parker, and some of Spider-Man
Zach
Hudson
, Mark
Aaron
Wagner
and a CGI creation as the rest of
Spider-Man
Kirsten
Dunst
as
Mary Jane Watson
Willem
Dafoe
as
Norman Osborn and the Green Goblin
James
Franco
as
Harry Osborn
J.
K. Simmons
as
J. Jonah Jameson
Cameos
Ted
Raimi
as
Hoffman
Bruce
Campbell
as the Wrestling Ring Announcer
Sam Raimi’s car as Uncle Ben’s car
Randy
Poffo,
aka. Macho Man Randy Savage
as Bone Saw
McGraw
Stan
Lee
as a guy on
the street who pulls a little girl out of the way
at the Green
Goblin’s first encounter with Spider-Man (don’t
blink or you’ll miss
him)

Macy
Gray
as
herself
Lucy
Lawless
as a
punk rocker (according to the credits. I think
she’s the one that
likes the idea of an eight handed man)
Crew:
Screenplay by David
Koepp

Directed by Sam
Raimi

Score by Danny
Elfman

Cinematography by Don
Burgess

Visual Effects supervised by John
Dykstra

Complete listings can be found at this
part
of the Internet Movie
Database

High Point

The stylishly directed transformation sequence.

Low Point

The lack of development of Mary Jane. We want
her to have grown up a
bit at the end of the movie, but it’s not
completely clear whether
she’s grown up, or she’s just moving on to the
next guy.

The Scores

As always, originality suffers when
making a movie from an
adapted work. Most of the stunts and abilities of
Spider-Man haven’t
been seen before in movies, if we exclude the two
really small
independant movies based on the character. I
give it 3 out of 6.

The effects are what you’d expect from
John Dykstra. There’s
some really great work in the battle sequences,
where I knew certain
portions had to be CGI because I know people don’t
move like that, but
I don’t know where the human ends and the CGI
begins. I give it 5 out
of 6.

The story was more compelling and
involved than it needed to
be. It wasn’t pandering to anyone. It did a
great job of integrating
several decades worth of comic book stories into
a single coherent
tale. In short, anyone in the audience should be
able to follow,
while nobody should feel insulted. I give it 4
out of 6.

The acting was great from Tobey Maguire
and Willem Dafoe,
Dafoe in particular. The other actors were
passable, and would look
good on their own, but they paled in comparison
to these two. I give
it 5 out of 6.

The emotional response from me was not
great. Perhaps that
was because I’d already read the novelization, so
this felt like a
second viewing. Perhaps it was because my
allergies have been so bad
all week that I’ve had a hard time really losing
myself in anything.
Perhaps it was because just knowing that they
used Mary Jane Watson in
this storyline instead of Gwen Stacy was enough
to convince me that no
real harm would come to any of the protagonists.
In any event, I
laughed in places, I said “cool” in placed, but I
was never
enthralled. 3 out of 6.

The production is where this movie
really comes through. The
cinematography and camera work, especially in the
sequence with the
discovery of his powers and the first swinging
sequence, were
spectacular. The costume design segment was
fantastic work. The
fight sequences were very well done. The
switching was very
original. The editing of the conversation in
Norman’s study that took
place after the first encounter between hero and
villain was perfect,
trimming the unnecessary extra pauses in
conversation to really get a
sense of the frantic nature of Norman’s state of
mind was excellent.
I give it 6 out of 6.

Overall, this is a great summer
blockbuster. The DVD
release date, when announced, will be covered
here, because I plan to
be ready and in line on the first day it’s
available. (I estimate
that will be the Tuesday before America
celebrates Thanksgiving.) I
give it 5 out of 6.

In total, Spider-Man gets 31 out of 42.