Spiderman was always my favourite super hero and so when the inevitable movie came along I was in an uncomfortable mixed state of excitement and worry. The memory of Dolph Lundgren ruining The Punisher a few years ago has never been fully eradicated from my mind. Thankfully they didn´t mess up this time - high production values, a great cast and a top quality director who didn´t stray too far from the source material ensured that Spiderman made the transition to film a lot more successfully than his predecessors.

Spiderman the movie

The film charts the rise of Spidey, as young student Peter Parker is bitten by a radioactive spider and finds he has gained tremendous powers. Peter Parker is an ordinary guy, raised by his Aunt May and Uncle Ben, he goes to school, and he is in love with the girl next door, Mary Jane. Once bitten he has super speed, strength and agility. He can climb up walls and hang on ceilings, he can shoot his own webbing, and of course we can´t forget about his famous "spider sense" which enables him to detect trouble.

After developing his powers Peter decides to fight for money but this ends in tragedy and the death of his Uncle Ben. With Ben gone and a lesson learned Peter vows to use his powers for the good of mankind and determines to wage his own war on the rampant crime in New York. Before long the young Spiderman is front page news. Peter Parker cashes in by selling photos of Spiderman to the intimidating newspaper chief J. Jonah Jameson. All is well until the arrival of a certain super villain known as the Green Goblin.

Any fans of the comic books will love this film, which isn´t to say that casual viewers won´t - the film strikes a happy balance between faithful portrayal of a much loved character and thundering action sequences which look fantastic. The plot is directly lifted from the comic books although obviously several comics have been spliced together to create the course of events which unfold during the two hour running time.

Norman Osborn AKA the Green Goblin

The acting throughout the film is very good. Tobey Maguire plays Spiderman, and although not one my favourite actors, I thought he did a very good job. Kirsten Dunst is typically jaw dropping and does a great job as Spidey´s one true love - Mary Jane. Rosemary Harris as Aunt May looks exactly right and acts it perfectly too, as does Cliff Robertson as Uncle Ben. James Franco was a little disappointing as Harry Osborn but the performance of the film has to go to Willem Dafoe as Norman Osborn and the Green Goblin. Dafoe really gets into the comic book villain thing, acting wildly over the top; his portrayal of the Green Goblin is hard to forget.

The direction is absolutely brilliant as you might expect with Sam Raimi at the helm. From Evil Dead II to Darkman to The Gift there is plenty to recommend his talents and he doesn´t disappoint with Spiderman. Elements of comedy, action, drama and horror are combined skilfully to create a fast-moving and hugely enjoyable film. The direction is excellent, especially the action sequences which feature good choreography and some very special special effects. At times it is as though he has brought the frames of the original comic to life and this makes for a very good movie.

Spiderman was created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko and thankfully Marvel was involved in the production. David Koepp wrote the screenplay and he has combined some of the best stories from the comic books without altering much, which is great because the original comic books are very well written. The events chosen for the first film fit well and provide a great climax albeit one which suggests the birth of a series of films.

Spiderman is a very good film, sure it can be cheesy in places but so was the comic. This is an exciting, funny and gripping movie with a real polish about it. Forget about the mighty white Superman or the miserable Batman the wise-cracking antics of Spiderman are far superior and this film captures enough of the spirit of the original material to make it well worth watching.

Reviewed by Simon Hill

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