In anticipation of the upcoming Amazing Spider-Man 2, I will be reviewing the films that started it all. First off we have:
I liked the new Amazing Spider-Man reboot. I thought it was an entertaining and faithful adaptation of the Marvel comics based around the eponymous web-slinging wiseguy. My opinion of that film being good, however, might also have something to do with the fact that Sam Raimi‘s versions are nothing of the sort.
Most filmgoers will be used to hearing people state that, apart from an abysmal third chapter, Raimi’s movies are actually the better Spider-Man flicks. Well, I have decided to start off early and go as far to say as they’re all bad, right from the first one which I’ll be reviewing today.
In it, Spider-Man is played by Tobey Maguire. For what it’s worth, he nails the aspect of Peter Parker – Spidey’s geeky alter-ego -being a wimpy social reject that gets constantly picked on in school. It’s when the radioactive spider bite turns him into Spider-Man and he’s supposed to toughen up and gain a confidence along with a snarky sense of humour that Maguire falls utterly flat. His love interest Mary Jane Watson is played by Kirsten Dunst, his much cooler best friend Harry Osborn is played by James Franco and his first foe The Green Goblin, who is also Harry’s wealthy father Norman, is played by Willem Dafoe. Apart from Dafoe, who hams it up like there’s no tomorrow, there isn’t much to these actors that’s particularly interesting.
The plot is your average Spider-Man origin story: Peter lives with his aunt May (Rosemary Harris) and his uncle Ben (Cliff Robertson). Peter is a geek. Peter is in love with hot redhead. Peter has a part-time job as a photographer for a newspaper. Peter goes through metaphorical puberty and becomes superhero thanks to spider bite. Peter’s uncle dies which motivates Peter to fight crime. Peter’s best friend’s daddy goes absolutely bonkers and puts on silly villain suit designed by powerful company of evil robot-stuff. Peter fights silly villain. Peter saves the day. Peter gets the girl. Or does he? Who knows anymore?
Although often cited as one of the better films in Raimi’s trilogy, this one is almost the hardest to take seriously. True, the goofiness of singular scenes in Spider-Man 3 outcompetes the goofiness that composes the entire first Spider-Man film as a whole, but there are still notable moments in here that will make you slap your forehead and make a funny face. The dialogue in this one is more noticably comic book-esque than in the later installments, not to mention that the lack of subtext makes it seem as though the characters inhabit the world of a radio drama rather than a motion picture. It makes certain parts of the film feel too cheesy and the mediocre visual effects don’t help matters much.
It’s unfortunate too, because it seemed like they were going to try going a pretty dark route with the Green Goblin character at first. Just like in the comics, Goblin was going to be a psychotic split personality of the respected, if already rather jerky business man Norman Osborn and I would’ve loved to see Willem Dafoe try to tackle this Gollum-like performance in a much more serious and disturbing manner. My guess is that they changed it around to a more goofy and over-the-top character once the final design of the suit came through. I mean, look at that silly hunk of green metal. If you want to see a much cooler Goblin suit, check out the concept art for this film. Or better yet, read the comics!
I will say, though, as much as I dislike Tobey Maguire’s so-called Spider-Man, I do like his Peter Parker. That’s one thing he does better than Andrew Garfield in the new film; being a socially awkward dorkmeister who has every right to have the local stereotypical bully go after him. In Garfield’s film, this notion is out the window and instead Peter Parker is round about as cool and confident as his superhero persona, but isn’t that truer to the comics? Was Peter ever this pathetic a loser? Doubtful.
The only thing I really, completely adore about this movie, and any of the Raimi films in general, is J.K. Simmons as Peter’s fast-talking boss J. Jonah Jameson. This man completely kills it and every scene he’s in is nothing short of comedic gold. No matter how much more I enjoyed the 2012 reboot, they will never find a better guy to play Jameson. That’s one thing I’m absolutely certain of.
Even so, I am not a very big fan of this Spider-Man film. It can be fun if you’re looking for some goofy stuff but me, I’m only looking forward to seeing more of those new movies. I hope they cast Hayley Williams as Mary Jane. That would make her role as the “ridiculously attractive modeling girl next door” slightly more warranted, says I.