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movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Spider-Man

Starring: Tobey Maguire, Willem Dafoe
Director: Sam Raimi
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 111 Minutes
Release Date: May 2002
Genres: Action, Sci-Fi/Fantasy

*Also starring: Kirsten Dunst, James Franco, Rosemary Harris, Joe Manganiello, Ted Raimi, Randy Savage, Bill Nunn, Elizabeth Banks, Cliff Robertson

Review by Susan Granger
3 stars out of 4

Directed by Sam Raimi, this initial movie is just the beginning of the gigantic web the 40 year-old Marvel comic book superhero will spin. Tobey Maguire stars as Peter Parker, a guileless, awkward, bespectacled orphan who lives in Queens, New York, with his devoted Aunt May (Rosemary Harris) and Uncle Ben (Cliff Robertson). He's a geeky high school senior, hanging out with his buddy Harry Osborn (James Franco), fantasizing about beautiful Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst) and enduring humiliation from jocks - until he's bitten by a genetically-altered spider at a Columbia University science lab. Soon after, much to his surprise, he discovers he's developed an ESP-like "spider sense," along with perfect vision, enormous strength and amazing acrobatic agility. He first uses his powers frivolously but then, when Uncle Ben is killed in a carjacking, he becomes an arachnid crime fighter, decked out in a cobwebby Spider-Man outfit. "With great power comes great responsibility," as his uncle used to say. His personal nemesis is industrialist Norman Osborn (William Dafoe), his friend's father who ingested an experimental vapor which transforms him into the violently insane, armor-clad Green Goblin, and his maniacal Jekyll-and-Hyde duality provides terrific diversion. But it's the very human charm of actor Tobey Maguire that makes all this swinging-from-threads superhero stuff work, particularly when Peter gets the confidence to pursue M.J., the-girl-next-door, culminating in a rain-drenched kiss while he's dangling upside down off a Manhattan building. Despite some contriving, Raimi and writer David Koepp never lose the lighthearted comic-book sensibility. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Spider-Man" is an iconic, introductory 8 - with Spidey sequels already being planned.

Copyright 2002 Susan Granger

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