By Shawn McKenzie 05/02/2002
Boy...ask and ye shall receive!
A couple of days ago I wrote my review of Deuces Wild (see my review) in which I complained that the talented actor James Franco was severely underused. I hoped that he would get to be in a movie soon that utilized his talents a little more fully. In Spider-Man, that goal was achieved.
Now Franco is not the lead, but he is in a very important role with the promise of expansion. He plays Harry Osborn, the son of millionaire scientist Norman Osborn, a.k.a. The Green Goblin (Willem Dafoe.) The conflict that he gets to participate in is that he is the son of his best friend's biggest nemesis...his best friend of course being Peter Parker, a.k.a. Spider-Man (Tobey Maguire.) To complicate things further, he is dating the woman of Parker's dreams, Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst.) Like father, like son, the future Green Goblin doesn't get to show his rage here (his dad is taking care of that), but the seeds are planted for Spider-Man 2 (the key players have already signed up for at least two more movies.)
Beyond Franco, is Spider-Man any good? Well...yes and no (don't panic comic book geeks, it's mostly yes.)
For the good, the set-up story is very entertaining. I personally don't have a problem with the organic web-shooter thing (I know it is a controversy amongst geeks, but it looked good to me.) I'm not a hardcore comic book follower, but I thought the evolution of Parker getting his powers and then awkwardly trying to control them was very natural and entertaining. I loved the love triangle angle. You could see this movie being set up as a multi-movie story arc. It kind of felt like the TV show "Smallville" where you get to see the evolution of comic book evil and the destruction of a friendship. Everyone played their characters to the extreme without going overboard, including Maguire, who I knew was a concern for the hardcore fans.
Now for the bad. I love Sam Raimi, but I could tell it has been a while since he has directed a movie with special effects (I'm not going to count the point-of-view shots in The Quick and the Dead or For Love of the Game.) His last big special effects movie was Army of Darkness (a.k.a. Evil Dead 3.) If you are a fan of the Evil Dead series (like me) you know that they are famous for their lightning-fast stop-motion special effects. They looked cool on a movie like Army of Darkness, but, c'mon, that movie came out in 1993. I don't know why Raimi didn't take advantage of CGI special effects for Spider-Man. The Evil Dead series was always about the goofy dialogue and "Three Stooges" meets gory horror movie clichés anyway. Spider-Man was supposed to be a little more realistic and not so...early 90's looking. Maybe I'm being picky. Oh, speaking of the dialogue, there was a few moments where it was a little hokey (okay, I'm nitpicking.)
Overall, it was a very impressive movie with an engaging story. I highly recommend seeing it in the theater, because despite the fact that Raimi used stop-motion effects instead of CGI, some of the flying effects are so quick and enormous, it made me feel like I was riding a rollercoaster all over New York City. Plus the web-shooters were cool! Bring all your geek friends and check this movie out!
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