1 May 2002 | Sean_Thorniley
Poignant, fun and a faithful adaptation to the original comic book
Poignant, fun and a faithful adaptation to the original comic book. I am very critical of comic book movies since I am a huge fan of the medium and was tremendously disappointed in the Superman and Batman movies (all of them, some greatly!). This film however has again demonstrated that an adaptation of a comic book story can be fun and faithful to the story, yet be a film for all ages and those who may not have ever even read a comic book. The Crow was the only other good comic book movie in my opinion, but it was not an all ages fun ride as this is!
I had the privilege of seeing the film last night, 4-30-02, in SF with the press and 300+ other folks for its "Bay Area Premiere".
The acting is the finest portion of the film with the leads giving us depth that I was unsure would be allowed by the style of story chosen. Maguire was outstanding at being a guy who can rarely catch a break, but attract difficulty with ease and aplomb. He is awkward with the woman he loves, but eloquent when dealing with the familiar, just as most teenagers are even today. He gave us wonderful joy at the prospect of "web swinging" and kicking some much deserved ass! Dafoe is wonderfully scary as the man who has succumbed to the power games of the corporate world that drives a decent man mad striving for perfection in himself while trying to hard to please all the wrong people to no avail and then being consumed by guilt that has built over the years of family neglect which finally helps to push him over the edge when an opportunity to make a huge mistake presents itself.
The rest of cast is nearly as spectacular with the J.K. Simmons turning in the best performance in the film as J. Jonah Jamason. When he appeared on screen things lite up even more and he was on fire making everyone in the audience laugh and myself nearly p** my pants. Harris as Aunt May and Robertson as Uncle Ben were excellent choices and gave the film a great deal of its credibility and finesse. Letting what happens to Ben and Peter (I am not telling) was wonderful and the best punctuation to what makes Peter do what he does and brings complete credibility to the story. I am not a huge Dunst fan, but she was just fine as the love of Peter Parker's life and a person much like Peter only neither was conscious of the fact. This to me is a more real version of "true love".
The script was far stronger than I expected with some wonderful dialog; verbal exchanges, solid plot points and pacing. Many a good parenting lesson can be found in this film as well as interesting thoughts about the choices that we make in life that we might think are no big deal when in the heat of passion, but may well come back to haunt us if we don't think before we act/speak: which is the trust of the film in my humble opinion.
The direction from Raimi was also much better than I anticipated coming from someone who is known (and loved) for his over the top camp and action. Many of the fight and action sequences where more "over done" than I like, but they were solid and much like a comic of the Silver Age from whence the story comes so it fit the film fine. Nice cinematography without the CGI taking over and detracting from the realism, in fact it made much of the web swinging truly believable. A few points made things a bit hard to "believe", but over all I think most folks will be able to suspend their disbelief.
Danny Elfman. Need I say more? He is the man when it comes to "super hero" music and is the closest thing to John Willams and the late great Bernard Herman there is today. He subtly sets the mood and most of the audience probably doesn't even realize it. Tomorrow is my day off and I will be purchasing the score to add to my collection!