Sam Raimi’s “Spider-Man” soars with strong characters and breathtaking sky-scraper cinematography, the emotional tone ably matched with the often overdone action tone of comic-book films. Creator of ‘The Evil Dead’ B-franchise, Director Raimi has a knack for dynamic set-pieces; each one livens the movements of the super-reflexive Spider-man, and leads him into the next destruction-ridden scene.
Peter Parker, played by Toby McGuire, is a reserved high-school student with a Romeo-like passion for the girl who lives next door, Mary Jane, played by Kristen Dunst. Possibly as a result of his humility and pity, as Peter often overhears the harsh screaming and glass-shattering chaos of Mary and her father fighting. The two have a very touching encounter as she runs out the back in one of those dramatic situations, and he tenderly approaches her with his hands folded on the fence that divides them, on the way to taking the garbage out for his caring Uncle Ben and Aunt May.
Peter Parker’s social position is flipped, quite literally, when he’s on a field-trip at a Spider genealogy institute, and a loose spider-experiment seeps down from the ceiling on a silk web and bites his finger as he snaps a photograph. His physique goes from scrawny to built soon after, and his super abilities give him much spider play-time for us and him to have fun with. With these powers, his Uncle Ben says, comes great responsibility; and so it goes.
Mary Jane is the romantic focus of the first and following Spider-Man sequels. She symbolizes the universal bound of love, one of the only normal things Peter is acquainted with, and is a sobering reminder to the audience of the sacrifice Peter is making as the masked vigilante. The capitalist villain Green Goblin, played by a wide-smirking Willem Dafoe, combats Spider-Man throughout, while also having Thanksgiving dinner with Aunt May, his son Harry and Mary Jane, presently Harry’s girlfriend. The dramatic irony leads us into the final-sequences with grave suspense and anticipation.
Spider-Man is a versatile and well-acted adaption of Stan Lee’s comic series and stands as further of Director Sam Raimi’s talents with both the actors and the extravagant, practical set-design. The plot has many loopholes for Peter to avoid, like his best friend Harry being the son of a villainous bio-rat goblin, and they are left untouched with grace and dignity. The film makes a strong mark for the future sequels.