Spider-Man (2002) ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Review by Andrea Carnevali
When bitten by a genetically modified spider, a nerdy, shy, and awkward high school student gains spider-like abilities that he eventually must use to fight evil as a superhero after tragedy befalls his family. On Netflix.
Spider-Man is 20 years old this week and yet the jokes, the action, the drama, the romance work just as they all did back then.
After the Box Office tsunami that was Spider-Man No-Way Home last Christmas and in a time saturated by superhero movies squeezing the life out of anything else in cinemas, it’s easy to forget just how ground-breaking this film was in 2002.
Back then superheroes movies were “just for geeks” and a spider-man movie was definitely not a sure bet.
Director Sam Raimi (yes, the same Raimi from The Evil Dead) made a film which was not only a lot of fun, full of action, great visuals and very respectful of the original comics, but one that made us care about the actual characters in it, a model which he then perfected with the sequel, probably still among the best superhero movie to date.
Yes, of course, some stuff still has to be perfected. The visual effects for example, though mostly impressive, still could not quite make those CGI Spidey moves right.
As for the soundtrack, Danny Elfman’s score lacked that recognisable theme that movies like these must have (think of Superman, or Indiana Jones… or basically John Williams), and famously the villain’s look left a lot to desire (so much so, that they ended up changing it on the latest No Way Home).
Even the pacing seems a little bit off in a few places. But aside from these minor details, the film does a lot right too: Tobey Maguire seemed born to play this part, bringing charisma, comic timing and that wonderful nerdiness, all in one.
The chemistry between him and Kirsten Dunst (which once again will reach perfection in the sequel) is truly palpable. JK Simmons is obviously such an inspired choice for JJ Jameson, that he was brought back in the latest sequels.
And there are some other great supporting characters too, from a very young James Franco, to Willem Dafoe. I even spotted a young (and pre-Oscar favourite) Olivia Spencer playing a receptionist for about 20 seconds!
Today we take a lot of it for granted, but back then, all the swinging about Manhattan was truly breath-taking. And how can we not mention the upside-down kiss? One of the most enduring images of any superhero movie.
For better or worse, blame it or praise it (and a good six years before Robert Downey Jr’s Iron Man) this is the film that started it all. Blockbusters would not be the same anymore.
Andrea Carnevali is a Bafta winning film maker who lives in Chiswick
Spider-Man (2002) is available to watch on Netflix.
See all Andrea’s film reviews here: Film reviews by Andrea Carnevali
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