I've moaned about summer blockbusters plenty of times before in these pages, but if Spider-Man is anything to go by, things are definitely looking up.
Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) is just your everyday awkward teenager until a visit to a research lab results in him being bitten by a genetically altered spider. The bite gives him superpowers, and following his uncle's advice, he sets out to do the right thing, and maybe score with the cute girl next door (Kirsten Dunst). Standing in his way, though, is the maniacal Green Goblin (Willem Dafoe) who will do anything to keep the webslinging do-gooder out of his way.
Spider-Man wasn't just the best blockbuster this year, it is without a shadow of a doubt the most accurate comic book-to-film translation ever attempted. Of course, slavish attempts at accuracy aren't necessarily going to make for a good film, unless the source material is great. Thankfully, this isn't a problem Spider-Man has to deal with, thanks to the quality of the original comics.
What Raimi and his cast and crew clearly realised is that Spider-Man isn't really about the superhero at all, it's all about Peter Parker and how being a hero continually screws up his teenage life. Sure, he may save the day, but the public still doesn't trust him and he's probably missed a date by doing it. This aspect is where Maguire must take the lion's share of the plaudits. From his guilt-wracked introspection, to his wisecracking superheroics, Maguire nails the character perfectly. Then there's the CGI version of his character. The CGI Spider-Man has come in for a bit of flack due to his unnatural and exaggerated movement, but this again only reflects what artists like Todd McFarlane have done with the character in the comics, and as such is perfectly suitable.
Of course, no film is perfect and Spider-Man does have its faults: the Green Goblin's Power Ranger suit still doesn't completely convince, Mary Jane is given little more to do than scream a lot and the final fight feels a little too sudden. But these can all be overlooked quite easily, as the movie itself is such a thrilling, action-packed ride that you can't help but get caught up in Peter's life.
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