Hey folks, Harry here in Spidey's backyard... That's right, I'm in New York all set to go shoot a commercial with Errol Morris (how cool is that?) but while I'm here I can't help but look out my window and wish I could see Spider-Man swing by. It's strange being in this city. So much has happened here since I last came. Driving in from Newark, I didn't recognize the skyline.... pictures really do not convey the utter haunting change to the NY skyline... I've been here around 15 times in my life, always driving in from that Newark Airport... Strange. Now you're probably wondering where my review of SPIDER-MAN is. Me too. It hasn't been screened for press in Austin yet. Plus, I can't see Spider-Man without my pops and a few friends. Just wouldn't seem right. So... I'm probably not going to be able to see it til Monday. But folks, if you're waiting to see what the word is, the word is GO. Waaaaaaaay too many people are ecstatic about the film. Minor quibbles here and there, but it looks to be a 100% winner! Here's the reviews....
Hey, Harry. I'm sure you have probably received tons of reviews concerning Spider-Man. I am basing this on the fact that I have read three or four on AICN already so that probably means you had to wade through 100 or 200. At any rate, I just got home from a preview of the film and felt compelled to tell my side of the story.
Like any self-respecting Spidey fan I have been anxiously waiting for this movie a lot longer than any gainfully employed adult probably should. I'm 30 years old and have been a fan as long as I can remember. Long like sitting in Spider-Man undergoes watching Nicholas Hammond "wall crawl" on TV at an age that I would not have been embarrassed if my friends at school knew I was wearing underoos. (For you true fan-boy geeks, that age is roughly 6 or 7, not 19 or 20). I've read all of the reviews AICN has posted. I have waded through the Talk-Balks and followed the arguments about organic vs. mechanical webshooters, latex vs. "Power Ranger" Goblins, Gwen Stacy vs. Mary Jane Watson, and on and on, ad infinitum, ad nauseum. I waited anxiously enough to see it that my wife finally asked me, "You know, you've seen that preview 100 times. Why do you still get worked up every time it comes on?" Long and short - I'm a huge fan of the old webhead.
I'm not only a Spider-Man fan, I love movies. My wife was a media buyer before she made the generous decision to stay home and raise our baby daughter, and as a result of her job I got a privilege that any movie fan would jump after: Free Movie Premieres. This is a perk that has sorely been missed in my life and one that I thought had passed me by like good REM albums. After making plans to go see Spider-Man when it opens Friday, I got the unexpected opportunity this afternoon to go to tonight's premiere in Cincinnati. Needless to say, my parents watched the baby and my wife and I went off to the movies.
She and I fall into two different camps when it comes to the Wall-Crawler. Long-time fan vs. "You mean Spider-Man's a guy in a costume? I thought he was some kind of monster." Just like when we went to see X-Men, I was very curious to see how she would react to a comic book film. And just like when we went to see X-Men, I wanted to walk out of the theater happy. I'm very happy right now and she understands why I'm keeping my plans to see it again on Friday AND why the guy who hooked us up with the tickets is getting lunch on me tomorrow..
Are there times when the CGI looks fake? Yep. Are there times when the story gets a little slow? Yep. Are there things that I would do differently if I got to stand in Sam Raimi's shoes? Yep. If I could go back now and turn down the tickets, would I stay home and watch Frontier House on PBS? No way, baby. Good movie.
The story, as everyone knows by now, is not the same origin that is told in the comics. Things happen differently. You can attribute these differences to lots of factors: translation of media, appealing to a wider audience, technological advancements from 1962 to 2002 and plain old time limitations. You just can't squeeze 40 years of history into a two hour film. It's my opinion, however, that the differences are negligible and lead to a satisfying compromise that should appeal to fans as well as the uninitiated. If you walk out of Spider-Man still griping about organic webs then you should go rent Dolph Lundgren in the Punisher and really have something painful to bitch about.
I've read postings and reviews that have been hung up on the differences, and some that seem to me to have been written by folks that aren't familiar with the comics at all. I'd be lying if I said that I wasn't a little nervous about the whole experience. It's easy to take other people's opinions of something and let them shape your own. If I had taken some of these reviews to heart, I may not have gone to see Spider-Man at all (fat chance, Bunky). I actually had the question in the back of my mind, "What if I don;t like it?" As it turns out, I decided to take the time honored approach of letting the film shape my opinion of itself. And here we are...Pay off. There are only two points of contention that I have with the story.
Point One: I was disappointed that more of the opening hour, where we get acquainted with regular, pre-spider-bite Peter Parker wasn't dedicated to driving home the closeness of Peter to his Uncle Ben. We're set up to believe from the jump that this "like any story worth telling is about a girl." It's critical to understand the relationship of surrogate father and son to appreciate Spider-Man's motivations. When Ben dies, we aren't really given the opportunity to see past Peter's guilt over being involved to see that he is genuinely devastated by the death of this man. Even the argument between Peter and Ben seems to emphasize the uncle-nephew relationship over the father-son relationship that Spider-Man readers know and understand. But I have the advantage, or disadvantage, of that 40 years of history to realize this is a problem.
Point Two: I missed the trademark Spidey battle banter. There's (very) little in the movie; not the ongoing zingers, name calling and insults that comic readers will be used to. I think, and am sure many will agree, that it would have been superb to hear Spidey razzing the robbers during the armored car sequence. Saying "Cheese!" to his camera didn't cut it for me. But this is a fan-boy argument. When I explained this nit-picky complaint to my wife, she argued that it would have seemed cheesy. To an "outsider" that may be true. I'll chalk it up to factor #1, translation of media, and let it slide.
That's it. No more complaints. I liked the story. I liked how Norman figured out Spidey's identity without the need to unmask him. I liked the subtle clues to potential future players (Peter is fired off-screen by a certain Dr. Connors; Harry has a vendetta against Spider-Man). I liked the fight sequences, CGI faults or not. I liked the showcase of Spider-Man's strength on the bridge. I bought Tobey Maguire as Peter Parker. Willem Dafoe is a genius. Kirsten Dunst is vulnerable and believable as Mary Jane.
Spider-Man brings something for everyone who loves movies. Action, laughs, love, hate, angst, spirit and even a few unexpected scares. The cinematography is incredible. Want to know what it feels like to swing over New York City by a strand of silk? See Spider-Man. Want a reminder of how hard it can be to be a teenager? See Spider-Man. Want a crash course on what it means to be a hero? See Spider-Man. Want to finally get your money's worth out of a movie ticket? See Spider-Man. OK, I saw it for free, but you get my point. Too often when I watch movies I find myself disappointed by the ending. The last 30 minutes of most movies feel like the creators tried to force an ending, tried too hard to wrap things up in a neat little package and give you what you've seen coming at least for the last 50 minutes. This movie doesn't do that. The final battle between the Goblin and Spidey is fantastic and instead of a neat little package you get a hunger for what's to come next.
But, I'm a fan. Don't take my word for it. Ask my wife. She liked it, too.
And now there's this one...
Just got home from a screening of Spider-Man, here goes:
This is my first attempt at one of these so please bear with me. In short, this film was just what I wanted. It was Spider-Man and I believe that’s the best compliment I can bestow upon it. Cast was perfect ,Sam did a bang up job as always. Danny Elfman's score was what I've come to expect from him, good but not up to snuff from what he's done in the past and I must tell all of you to do yourself a favor and stay until the last credit rolls. There's a song that I think you'll recognize.
Oddly enough ,what struck me most about this experience was the people next to me. They must have been around 12 or 13, your typical giggly little girls who spent most of the time before the film raving about the N'Snc concert they'd seen the week before. As you can imagine I was pretty well horrified at this and began trying to come up with the harshest thing I could think of for the inevitable moment that they started speaking during the film. But believe it or no that moment never came. They sat there ,just as I did ,in complete awe. Maybe I shouldn't say "just as I did" because these two girls enjoyed this film on a level that I probably won't be able to again. There were several key moments in this film where they shrieked and clenched their fists..they were truly afraid that Spidey was in real danger. They gasped at all the right moments ,they clapped when he saved Mary Jane ,they looked genuinely afraid of the Green Goblin. This was the film experience I wish I could have had. Alas ,I'm too old and jaded now I've seen 1001 films where the hero saves the day and gets the girl and no matter how much peril Spidey or M.J. seemed to be in I knew that they'd be okay no matter what. Not these two girls though ,they had the one of those pure film going nights that I haven't had since I was younger than they are. It'd be nice not to be so jaded anymore but I don't think that's possible. It's nice to know though that in the times we live in some of us can still just sit and enjoy something in the purest way possible. Here's hoping that they and anyone else like them doesn't grow out of it too soon we and those who make the films we love need them around.
If you use this the name's Caustal
Here is Peach, and what a beaut he is...
Hey Harry it's me again, the REAL Peach. Yes, the real deal, not that cantankerous imposter whose been roosting around AICN dropping F-bombs and smearing my generally good and reputable name about town.
Here I stand, once again bringing you the small-town perspective, straight outta the corn fields and amber waves of Indiana, this time not with a lambasting of Spielberg's latest fudge up, but to rant and rave about Sam Raimi's incredible job with Spider-Man. My goodness, he has, once again (in my opinion), managed to wrap and ship packaged joy. Pure joy.
I was lucky enough to see the film through a local radio station, I brought along 3 friends and snagged some sweeeet shwag (sp?) before the show, including a Spider-Man cd which my Volvo puked out after only 3 tracks (it absolutely sucks waste water). There were a few Indy rednecks with Spider-Man tatoos that pretty much made me want to jab myself in the eye with a spork (you know those combination fork\spoon things........yeah that) in between making fun of the poor guys. I had brought along a hilarious and very badass skateboarder who made the night pretty funny with some insights into the movie, more on that in a sec.
So Spider-Man. Hella, hella, pimptastick. Let me just say I've been a Spider-Man fan since the fifth grade, I collected and slapped those babies in plastic covers w\cardboard backs just like any respectable nerd must, or he freaks out. Spider-Man was the stuff, an ordinary, smart, and witty kid blessed with powers I craved. Until the clone saga, with Scarlet Spider, came along and raped and pillaged my faith in comics. Since then it's been no-dice, those comics have sat untouched in my closet.
Until tonight, damn if this isn't the best comic-adaptation ever made. Like hell it isn't!!! Tobey Maguire was SPOT ON, absolutely perfect, such an intelligent choice by Raimi, Dafoe is perfect (suit is cool, NO ITS COOL STFU CYNICS!!!!), Mary Jane (um rain scene, are you a guy? you'll enjoy it), JJJ is hilarious especially coupled with the always befuddled Ted Raimi, btw the Raimi-Mobile plays a prominent role which is great, Bruce Campbell (check), ahhhhhhhh great effects, so sweet to see him flying through Manhatten, tight script, great pacing, lame lame lame lame lame score. Danny Elfman could have elevated this film to super-classic with a sweet score but he was obviously preoccupied by something.......yeah it was Mary Jane's wet shirt, no i'm not a pervert......shut up!!
I really did love this movie, and i really don't see why every single person who frequents this site shouldn't feel the exact same way I do (unless, of course, you're George Lucas). Ah...I can just see the phone calls coming into the ILM switchboards on May 17.......
ILM---- hello this is George Lucas's HQ, if you'd like to be sucked dry by a soulless, talent less freak, please press one for Ralph M.
RAIMI: hi, yeah this is Sam Raimi, I just wanted to tell Lucasfilm that they can all STFU (pronounced stew-foo) because my movie r0x0rs whilst episode II sux0rs, now excuse me while I go revel in the fact that I'm Sam Raimi and chicks love me! Bruce and I are poppin Cristal tonight aaaaaaaw yeah!!!
Lucas: (while Ralphi, dressed as one of the Pope's Cardinals spanks creative ILM designers in the background): RAIMI!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I wouldn't be surprised if this film finally earns Raimi the respect he so deserves. The film is very intelligently crafted. The first half plays out more like a character-drama, albeit a very corny one, which is actually almost as entertaining as the second half. Peter's transformation is handled superbly because it is universally dealt with using humor. It lightens the movie. Peter doesn't freak out and go: "HOOOOOOOLY SHAAAAT!!!!!" When he realizes he is changing into a Spider, he digs the crap out of it and just tries to have fun with his new skillz, and that makes our experience, as viewers, a helluva a lot more fun. The scene where Flash Thompson tries to pick a fight with Peter is absolutely classic, superb acting by Maguire, he translates the gee-whiz this is weird but sweet look to his mug flawlessly.
The second half is pure action and just a great time, I'd say the film reaches it's most epic pinnacle during the first half when (spoiler if you are comic retarded and are ignorant to Spider-Man mythology) Peter chases down the crook who killed his Uncle. There is a palatable sense of fury and anguish that crackles gloriously on the screen in an incredibly kinetic and emotional 5 or 6 minutes; that is just great. However, that doesn't mean the rest of the film is playing second fiddle to that sequence, the battle at the end with the Green Goblin is absolutely brutal and totally sweet (to use a ninja term). The green goblin ends up killing himself with his own vehicle running into his genitals……ouch…..right in the jewels…. with an airborne craft……Dafoe gives the: "Holy god this thing just flew into my genitals" like an old-pro should.
There really isn't too much to analyze here, this isn't a think piece it's an epic, comic book movie. See it, have fun, enjoy life before some crazy zealot takes us all out, which is going to happen unless we spread the love and keep pimping the game to the next episode (i dunno, that's just my idea for world peace, that and more wet t-shirts).
BTW the funniest moment during the film came when MJ kissed spider-man (even though she's dating little Osborn uh oh), my skater friend let fly with: "SLUUUUUUUUT, SHE IS DATING SOMEONE ELSE, THAT IS BOOTY!!!" I laughed and laughed for about 10 minutes, I love Indiana.
P.S. George Lucas: look honey, you know I loves you, I bought the episode II track two days ago and have been nerding out to it for 48 hours. I am officially stoked, but you know what homes??? You screw this up again, if you make me NOT want to be a jedi, then I'm going to sell my soul to Peter Jackson. Make me believe again player, I want it so bad (that's what she said! MJ that is…I mean….dammit).
P.P.S Good Job Sam, put me in Evil Dead 4 you glorious bastard
This review has a MASSIVE SPOILER IN IT!!!!! READ AT OWN RISK!!!!!
Caught a screening of the new Spider-Man movie tonight so I came right home to right you a review. Hope it's helpful to you and your readers.
I'm a comic book fan from way back and still work in the industry, which at times can really wear you down and make you wonder why you're wasting so much time and energy in a medium and on characters that ultimately are juvenile and pointless. A month to month schedule is not conducive to good art or good stories, and certainly I can only read about Spidey's new battle with DOC OCK so many times before I simply stop caring. The best thing I can say about this movie is that it brought back all those good lovin' feelings at least about this character.
The plot is workable, a nice amalgam of the first decade in Spider-Man's career told in a story that takes place over a few months, and to me, that's also a sign that the film works: it takes stories that, as a fan, I know back and forth, and made them engaging with a minimal number of changes.
For example, when the Green Goblin dies, he is impaled by his own glider, exactly as in the comic series.
The direction is an affable blend of super-hero stylization and naturalism. Unlike Batman, Spider-Man is a New Yorker and must exist in a real New York. When Raimi shows us Spidey swinging down a block from the point of view of a man on the street, its a breathtaking sight. Here is Spider-Man brought to life as you might see him on your way back from lunch. It's exciting in a way that Alex Ross tries to achieve but, because comics is still a still non-kinetic medium, ultimately fails.
And the action scenes only further prove that this is a character that can only be fully realized on film. Finally, a use of CGI that doesn't look hokey and out of place. Yes, the CG Spidey moves jerkily and too fast and too limber, JUST LIKE THE REAL SPIDER-MAN WOULD! Nothing to say here but YAY!
Tobey as Spidey is spot on. He goes from bookish needy nerd, to groovin' superhero, to being a little harder, a little sterner in his self-imposed responsibility. Tobey brings out a character that really does look like he's carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders.
Dafoe is miraculous, almost more the Goblin out of the costume than in. An actor's actor, he lends the whole picture a gravity that would have been lacking in his absence. No stunt casting here, this guy was born to play the Green Goblin. Just look at that mug! Ain;t no way to do that with make-up!
The Goblin presented here is a scary maniac who murders people and laughs about it. He's not the Joker who you follow almost as a protagonist, amused at his psychotic exploits. We don't laugh at this super-villain; he laughs at US.
Which brings me briefly to the subject of violence in this movie. There's very little blood, but some Sci-fi gore, that some kids in the audience found disturbing, but it was so quick, I don't think it'll have any lasting impression. Besides, the Goblin is no scarier than the wicked queen in Snow White. And who says kids shouldn't be scared every once in a while?
Surprising to me, many in the audience had a less than stellar reaction to Dunst. She just didn't come off as MJ. And I don't mean some preconceived notion I had rolling in my head since childhood. I went in not expecting this to be an issue. I've always liked Dunst and think she's sexy as hell. But in the loving close-ups, people just couldn't help but wonder why Parker was so obsessed with the chick with weird teeth and big face. I don't think MJ needed to be played by a beauty queen, but maybe someone a little less quirky in the looks department. I know this will probably inspire more ire than all my other comments put together, but there you have it. And I was not alone in that opinion.
All in all, as soon as the story ended, I was slavering for the sequel, which this film definitely left room for. What could be a better compliment?