5 August 2000 | The Spectacular Spider-Man
Mild but entertaining comicbook adventure
Spider-Man Strikes Back never really captures the feel of the Marvel comics it's based on. Only two characters - Peter Parker and J. Jonah Jameson - make the transition and although both give likeable performances, neither are really that similar to their comicbook counterparts. Nicolas Hammond is too old for Peter, and as Spidey, lacks the wallcrawler's sense of humour, although his intelligence and scientific knowledge is essential to the plot. Robert F. Simon is grouchy, but doesn't have pompousness or anger of Daily Bugle editor JJJ. Secretary Rita was perhaps originally Betty Brant, but she has very little in common with her.
Spidey himself is done quite well, his costume is almost exactly the same as the original, and he climbs up and down buildings slowly but effectively. He even swings on a webline in one absolutely perfect (but very short) sequence, which will have fans in raptures. The fight scenes are cool, if short, with some intresting techniques thrown in, including jump cutting and P.O.V shots during the combat. There is also an exciting car chase and a genuinely dramatic climax with Spidey racing to defuse a nuclear bomb. The stunts are extremely impressive considering the budget.
The biggest fault is the lack of any supervillains. Instead of the Green Goblin, Kraven the Hunter or Mysterio, the arch enemy is Mr. White, a greedy millionaire who is after the bomb. His two henchmen are a kung fu guy and a huge, Jaws-like thug. They are all acceptable for 1970's TV shows, but for a movie released theatrically, insufficient.
There is some great music, however, and Peter's trademark day-to-day problems are all present and correct and occasionally amusing. A lot of the action takes place on top of skyscrapers as well, as in the comics. Compared to other comic based TV movies, it's one of the best, far superior to the recent Justice League of America (1997) and only surpassed by The Incredible Hulk (1977).
Overall, a pleasantly enjoyable movie and the best Spider-Man film so far, but nothing to get too excited about. Get excited about Sam Raimi's 2001 Spider-Man, with Tobey Maguire as Spidey fighting Doctor Octopus and the Green Goblin.