Starring: Tobey Maguire, Willem Dafoe, Kirsten Dunst, James Franco, Cliff Robertson, Rosemary Harris
Release dates: April 29, 2002 (Mann Village Theater) || May 3, 2002 (United States)
Running time: 121 minutes
Country: United States
Budget: $139 million
Box office: $825 million
IMDb Rating: 7.4/10 (830K)
Sony released Sam Raimi's Spider-Man on May 3, 2002, featuring Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst in the lead roles, as the start of the summer movie season. The original review by StorialTech is presented below:
Spider-Man's first cinematic adaptation stays true to the character's roots in two worlds that best suit him: a comic-book universe, where he can climb and swing through the urban jungle like energetic boys at a playground, and old B-movies, where things happen quickly, and corniness is not a problem. Tobey Maguire portrays Peter Parker/Spider-Man, a brilliant casting choice by director Sam Raimi and his team. Maguire's character is innocent and lovable, with a permanent expression of astonishment at his superpowers, making him the perfect match for an ordinary guy with a big secret. Maguire's charm is the primary reason why Spider-Man will become a popular character among women as well as men and comic-book enthusiasts.
This Columbia production does what it's supposed to do: set up Spider-Man for a tentpole series that will last a long time (or at least until Maguire loses interest), present a satisfying first episode with a compelling Jekyll-and-Hyde villain, introduce the hero's love interest, Kirsten Dunst's Mary Jane Watson with flaming red hair, and leave enough loose ends to make the audience eager for the next installment. Spider-Man is the first surefire hit of the summer season, as long as you don't mind it starting on May 3.
Numerous directors, including James Cameron, vied to direct the first Spider-Man movie, but Raimi was an excellent choice since he was familiar with the genre, having directed such seriocomic fantasies as Darkman and Army of Darkness. Raimi eschews grandiosity and epic styles present in the Superman and Tim Burton's Batman franchises and instead opts for a comic-book vibe. The movie feels compact, with its design, visual effects, and cinematography in perfect harmony. Spider-Man is the hero of the story, rather than a mere element in the filmmaking process.
David Koepp's efficient screenplay (based on Stan Lee and Steve Ditko's Marvel Comic Book series) takes the audience to an alternate universe where the emergence of a superhero is welcome, but not entirely surprising. The protagonist even receives negative press coverage, with J. Jonah Jameson (J.K. Simmons), a tough newspaper editor, insinuating in print that Spider-Man and a villain he's dubbed the Green Goblin (for which he wants royalties!) might be in cahoots.
Early on, the film establishes Peter Parker as a 99-pound weakling, who is belittled by his muscular male peers in a high school located in Queens. The reason for this mistreatment is never explained; he's just a nerd and, as a result, a "freak." (It's worth noting how this concept has become outdated since Spider-Man's first appearance in comic books 40 years ago.)
Peter, who lives with his uncle and aunt, is an orphan. He has a crush on his neighbour Mary Jane, who seems unhappy with her current boyfriend. During a school trip to a research lab, Peter is bitten by a genetically altered spider. The next day, he discovers he has acquired superhuman abilities, including the ability to cling to surfaces, spin webs, and jump great distances. He also no longer needs his glasses and his body is more muscular.
Peter experiments with his newfound powers and earns money by participating in a wrestling match. Later, when his uncle is killed during a carjacking, Peter decides to use his powers to fight crime.
The main villain in the movie is Norman Osborn, the father of Peter's best friend Harry. Despite his criminal activities, Norman shows a friendly interest in Peter's life and career. After moving in together in a Manhattan loft, Peter and Harry both become interested in Mary Jane.
Norman undergoes an experiment that gives him superhuman strength and drives him insane. He becomes the Green Goblin, a villain with a conflicted personality. He engages in schizophrenic conversations with himself and wears an armour-plated space suit.
The movie features a likable cast and impressive special effects. The filmmakers use their imagination to create memorable scenes, such as Spider-Man and Mary Jane's upside-down kiss. The film's finale leaves character relationships open-ended for future installments.