Robert's Reviews
Here there be spoilers - by Robert Delaney

Overall, pretty good. I'd give Spider-Man a "thumbs up" if that weren't already trademarked to some other movie critic. It does, however, manage to fall into the same trap that most comic book superhero movies fall into: it tries to cram two movies into one film. The first movie is the story of how Peter Parker becomes Spider-Man, and the second is his battle with the Green Goblin. The result is that neither story is allowed enough time to be developed as fully as it deserves to be. The first Superman movie with Christopher Reeve handled this even worse than Spider-Man does, while the first X-Men movie did manage to integrate the two movies better than either of them (and was the first ever comic book movie to treat the source material with the respect it deserves, as does Spider-Man here). The first Batman avoided this trap entirely by assuming that we all know who Batman is and skipping the origin story, except for a brief flashback (of course, I liked the Batman movies the least of any of these but for other reasons).

In Spider-Man's case, I would have liked to have seen more scenes of Peter learning to use his new superpowers instead of having him quickly go from a clumsy first attempt to being fully proficient. There should also have been more time devoted to building the relationships between Peter and Mary Jane, Peter and Harry, Mary Jane and Harry, Harry and his father, etc. The "soap" elements of the plot concerning who's in love with whom versus who's dating whom would have felt more real then, rather than being gratuitously tacked on just so the filmmakers could say, "See, we've got character development too!" As for the second story, I really liked the Jekyll&Hyde thing they were going for with Norman Osborn and the Green Goblin, but, again, not enough time was spent with Osborn's "Jekyll" side learning about and trying to deal with his "Hyde" activities for him to become the really cool, post-Hannibal Lecter, psychologically deranged yet oddly sympathetic villain that he could have been. Nor is any time devoted to exploring what the Goblin's long term agenda is. He acts as an agent of chaos and terror, but why? Aside from getting revenge on the board members who screwed him (and he does this pretty quickly), is it money, power, fame, world domination? Why does he want Spider-Man to join him? To be the kind of son Harry never was? And why does Harry go from resenting his father to swearing vengeance against his father's killer (besides the obvious sequel potential it promises)? A much longer running time or two separate movies would have been able to deal with these issues.

Let the nitpicking begin!

In short, a definite go-see, but I'm not sure if it will hold up for multiple viewings.

Guide for parents: probably not good for younger kids. The Green Goblin has several scary scenes, and the climactic fight between him and Spider-Man gets brutally violent. Mary Jane shows a lot of cleavage and has a "wet tee-shirt" type moment.

Links: Official Movie Website, Official Comics Website, and Internet Movie Database Entry

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