What a Tangled Web They Weave

Spider-Man

Directed by Sam Raimi

(Tobey Maguire, Willem Dafoe, Kirsten Dunst, James Franco)

PG-13

In our PR-dominated times, where the opening of a donut shop can supercede a possible nuclear holocaust, films have evolved from simply movies into life-defining events. We remember the t-shirts from The Flintstones or the commerative cups from Tomb Raider more than the actual scenes. Sadly, Spider-Man fails to buck the current trend for tie-ins over dialogue.

It’s not for lack of trying, and Lord knows it certainly means well. But not even cameos by Randy “Macho Man” Savage and Bruce Campbell (Evil Dead) possess the spider sense to smell a rotten turkey in the oven.

Tobey Maguire stars as Spider-Man, the web-slinger who learns that “with great power comes great responsibility.” His alter ego, Peter Parker, is supposed to be a tortured wallflower but I would have killed for those cheekbones in high school. Kirsten Dunst plays Mary Jane Watson, his token love interest with scene-chewing aplomb.

The sole weak ray of hope in all of this hacknyed melodrama is Willem Dafoe, a guilty pleasure as the maniacal arch-enemy Green Goblin.

Director Sam Raimi appears asleep at the wheel and Danny Elfman’s score sounds suspiciously like refried Batman. The script is indeed basically true to the storyline, but one begins to wonder what James Cameron could have done with his treatment.

Like virtually everyone else in the entertainment world, Spider-Man creator Stan Lee went bust during the dot com gold rush and is now desperately grasping at straws for anything to pay the rent, and it’s showing.

Although virtually anything would have been an improvement over the atrocious1970s T.V. show, I’m afraid this makes The Punisher look like Lawrence of Arabia. Marvel Comics itself is on the verge of bankruptcy, and is counting on Spidey sequels to help sell pictures based on virtually everyone else in their pocket.

The special effects are inarguably engrossing, but I’m reviewing a film here, not a video game. Internet rumors now fly that Spidey’s costume was stolen from the Columbia lot and is fetching upwards of $250,000 on EBay. I certainly hope the buyer gets what he paid for.

 

-Nathan Hall

Spider-Man opens this Friday.