Spider-Man (2002)

Spider-Man (2002)

2002 PG-13 121 Minutes

Fantasy | Action

After being bitten by a genetically altered spider, nerdy high school student Peter Parker is endowed with amazing powers.

Overall Rating

8 / 10
Verdict: Good

User Review

  • WHAT I LIKED: Giving an awkward teenager super-powers is a brilliant idea because it magnifies the typical coming-of-age struggle that comes with new responsibilities and finding a place in the world.

    Almost every move of Sam Raimi's 'Spider-Man,' plot is there to test Peter Parker's (Toby Maguire) commitment to being that hero by showcasing how his fight with the evil Green Goblin (Willem Dafoe) increasingly affects his personal relationships with love-interest MJ (Kirsten Dunst) and best friend Harry (James Franco). That, along with the dynamic camera angles which zoom close on his struggling, concerned facial expressions, arguably makes this the first major comic book movie - perhaps aside from 1978's Superman - to paint its hero as a person rather than a caricature. That conviction to the seriousness in its source material is admirable, and it makes for a genuinely engaging film where you can actually empathise somewhat with the central character.

    WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE: The thing is, even though the entire point of the plot is to put Peter's commitment to his newfound responsibilities into question, you never believe for a moment that he might be struggling enough to reconsider his life as the friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man. That's because, once he sees his uncle Ben die at the start, the motivation for him to go down the path of the hero is as clear as day, and there's no real arc for him to have thereafter. He starts the film an unquestionably good but awkward teen, and the struggles his newfound responsibilities put him through don't properly challenge or change any of that.

    VERDICT: Sam Raimi's 'Spider-Man,' deserves the credit it gets for taking its central character seriously. It's just that the paces he's put through don't feel like they're really testing him in the way they're intended to.