Starring: Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, James Franco
Director: Sam Raimi
Running Time: 121 mins
Spider-Man is an American film about high schooler Peter Parker, who, after being bitten by a radioactive spider, develops super powers that lead him to become New York City’s leading crimefighter, as he faces a villain who threatens to turn his entire world upside down.
This is such a fun movie. Credited with reinventing the summer blockbuster, Spider-Man isn’t just an epic, action-packed superhero adventure, but a movie that’s never afraid to have a bit of high-wire fun. Complete with a trio of wonderful lead performances, a screenplay full of captivating emotion and engaging character depth, this is a near-perfect crowd-pleaser of a movie, the likes of which we just don’t see anymore.
Let’s start with the action. After all, if there’s one thing you want from a Spider-Man movie, it’s exciting action. And while we’re more than used to enormous intergalactic battle sequences filled with CGI from modern superhero movies, there’s something refreshingly down-to-earth about the action here.
With far less reliance on CGI than the superhero movies we’re used to nowadays, and yet still featuring convincing, vibrant and exciting visual effects throughout, Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man is a triumph of action filmmaking. While it doesn’t burst out of the blocks with action, the film builds nicely in stakes throughout, making each and every action sequence not only an integral part of the story, but all the more exciting to watch.
However, that would never be the case without such a brilliant screenplay that has far more to offer than classic superhero action. While the fight sequences are the tip of the iceberg of Spider-Man’s crowd-pleasing entertainment, the film is fantastically well-written, with a tightly-knit leading trio of characters, all of whom have captivating and emotionally resonant stories that play into the overarching superhero plot.
In the lead role, Tobey Maguire is effortlessly lovable as the nerdy kid with great power thrust upon him. He’s not only the perfect friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man, but his story is an enthralling coming-of-age tale, as his kind-hearted persona encounters obstacles that could threaten to turn him into something completely different.
Alongside Maguire, Kirsten Dunst is frankly dreamy as Spider-Man’s love interest Mary-Jane Watson, but also strong-willed enough to play an interesting and important role in this story. James Franco too gives a captivating turn as Spider-Man’s best friend, while Willem Dafoe is hugely entertaining and still genuinely menacing as the film’s main villain.
Director Sam Raimi does a brilliant job at directing what is a huge ensemble cast in what’s billed as a solo superhero movie. And not only does Raimi’s direction play a major part in why the film’s action is both so exciting and so gripping, but he also ensures that Spider-Man is as fun a film as can be.
While this movie does a brilliant job at bringing emotional depth and real narrative stakes into play throughout, it’s also never afraid to have fun. There are a lot of laughs in Spider-Man, while it also leans heavily on comic-strip style editing and characters – the electric J. Jonah Jameson being the best example.
As a result, Spider-Man is a blockbuster that has absolutely everything. Exciting, emotionally resonant, action-packed, energetic, diverse and full of fun and laughs, I had a whale of a time watching this movie, and it’s easily one of my favourite superhero films of all time. So, that’s why I’m giving Spider-Man an 8.5 overall.