Ah Spiderman – a film which manages to flirt with greatness but also have a violent sexual relationship with being really really cheesy.
The thing is that cheesy kind of suits the story of Peter Parker. He isn’t the bleak dark reality of Nolan’s batman – he lives in the same (Marvel) world as Tony Stark. Bright, brash and stupid with a wisecracking hero zipping about. From the first tinkles of Danny Elfman’s marvellous score (not his best work, but all is work can surely be classed as ‘samey but magical to listen to’) we know we’re in a cartoon world – we’re here for a laugh.
The film does help create some wonderful moments. Once Parker has been bit by the genetic super spider we open a world full of great touches. There is the simple – yet brilliant – way that Parker’s new found Spidey Senses work – showing his reactions by slowing everything down, there is the humour in Spidey’s wisecracks (here, more than either of the sequels he is the sarcastic hero from the cartoons and comics), there are the wonderful supporting roles.
Ah the supporting roles, and the cameos. Let us start with the Spidey stalwart… Mr Bruce Campbell. His cameos stay funny throughout the trilogy, but I think he seems most at ease. Cocky, garish and decked in Gold, he swaggers and plays the crowd like a poor man’s Elvis. And Campbell plays Elvis exceedingly well.
Then we have Willem Dafoe as Norman Osmond aka The Green Goblin. I love how Raimi’s villains have to struggle with duality. They aren’t evil; they’re always overcome by some for of destructive influence. Here it is the super soldier serum which unleashes one of the greatest ‘crazy faces’ I have ever seen.
Dafoe plays the Green Goblin with an obvious relish. He is a cackling OTT panto villain. He isn’t grounded in reality, he’s not anywhere near it. But, for that very reason, he is an absolute delight to watch. The second best thing in the film.
As the Spiderman trilogy is made roughly 62% more enjoyable by three massive Js. Written in letters which tower over New York. J JONAH JAMESON.
J K Simmons’ portrayal of the Daily Bugle’s editor in chief is one of the most perfect things ever put to celluloid. He is brash, he is angry, he is absolutely ridiculous. There are times when he makes Dafoe look restrained. He is exhaustingly good fun.
But this is important. We need an exciting villain and a bonkers minor character. We need them to keep the energy up. Because, alas, Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst don’t play Peter Parker or MJ as the most exciting people in the world. They’re a bit mopey. A bit quiet. A bit insecure. A lot dull.
I spent my time waiting for Parker to don the mask and become a crap CGISpiderman swinging through the city…. As at least that is something to watch.
Meanwhile, Mary Jane’s big contribution to the film (besides that award winning kiss) is to dangle off of a bridge as the Green Goblin gives his ultimatum – Save the girl or Save the carriage of children.
Ah, Spidey’s choice.
Of course Meryl Streep never had web slinging powers or it could have all turned out differently.
Spidey saves them both, and the film’s cutest most cringiest moment happens.
Spiderman was released shortly after 9/11 – which meant this original teaser trailer was scrapped pretty promptl
Shame, as it’s cool.
But it does mean that the film lapses into cringe-worthy patriotism as the citizensthrow litter at the Green Goblin in a “You mess with Spiderman, you mess with New York” moment.
This theme echoes throughout the film until the final shot where Spidey leaps triumphantly in front of a slowly billowing American flag.