Director: Sam Raimi
Cast: Tobey Maguire, WIllem Dafoe, Kirsten Dunst, James Franco, Dafoe’s Costume
Have I Seen it Before:
Did I Like It: It’s an incredibly likable movie, no doubt about that. And yet, if it ages this poorly in only 16 years, I worry if the whole thing really holds up as well as I want it to.
Been playing a lot of the new Playstation 4 Spider-Man game. It may yet be one of the greatest open-world games ever produced, and it fills my mind in a way that makes me want to re-watch the web-slinging stories of my youth. That does not—in any sense—mean watching a movie with Andrew Garfield. No offense, but I watched The Social Network (2010). Get it? Web-slinging?
So I proceeded to watch the first foray of the Spider-Man roughly my own age, Tobey Maguire. It is such a well-meaning film, with its lovingly fraternal depiction of just-post 9/11 New York may never fail to reach for the heart of a viewer who was alive and sentient at the time of its initial release. Aside from a few annoyingly studio-locked scenes—and even just a few shots in otherwise fine scenes—the film is refreshingly a New York Movie™, with the city feeling fully a part of the movie, and not just Vancouver trying its damndest to be EveryCity, USA.
The cast is near perfect. The direction from Sam Raimi (The Evil Dead (1982), Army of Darkness (1992), For Love of the Game (1999)*) is an artist using all of his tools at their peak. Honestly, I think he’s perfected something beyond a montage, where several pieces of disparate footage can play so quickly—and in some places directly on top of each other—that the effect will forever be Raimi-ian.
And yet, watching the movie now, I can really only be consumed with the nitpicks.
Did he dream an animated representation of his DNA re-writing? Was he missing his own DNA for a little bit there? What would that even do to a person?
How do the students of Peter’s high school not put together that the kid who accidentally webbed a cafeteria tray onto Flash Thompson (Joe Manganiello) and the web-slinging hero that soon introduces himself are the same guy?
These are the kind of things you think about when it has been sixteen years since you first see a movie, I guess. But gosh, you can’t dismiss some of the janky CGI this film is filled with, and the less said about the Green Goblin’s (Willem Dafoe)… armor…? the better.
* No, seriously. Look it up.