I’ll start with man who started it all Sam Raimi’s Spider-man, Tobey Maguire.
This film’s story has not aged well. Tobey’s Peter isn’t just a nerd he’s a loser. If you forget at any stage don’t worry the movie will remind you so you feel extra sorry for him, Flash played by Joe Manganiello starts off as a pretty standard jerk bully and then gets some lunch thrown at him and goes full on heavyweight boxing champion to try and beat up Peter. It’s pretty intense but it’s a cheesy movie with spider powers so I just let it slide.
Mary Jane seems to barely know Peter and I know the cliche is that losers don’t talk to girls but they’ve been neighbours since they were four, they’d have chatted or even have been friends because they would have played in that cul de sac together but hey, it had to rely on cliches to get made. Superhero/comic movies weren’t really really sophisticated vehicles for story telling they were and more or less still are showcases for fun effects and larger than life fights they’ve just grown a little more developed over the last 15 years.
The story of this film makes you sigh a few times and the cliche of the best friend played by James Franco, stealing his girl because he’s too whimpy to make a move, is a bit laboured and manufactures unnecessary conflict between all the characters. Once again it is the result of cliched righting reinforced by a lack of chemistry and set-up scenes between characters.
Uncle Ben’s death sequence is iconic but Peter should have stopped the robber. The event guy was kind of a douche but the robber is scummy, but this increases the impact when Peter discovers it was his fault. The argument he has with Uncle Ben seems forced and due to his lack of screen-time you only barely got a sense of how much he cares about Peter.
It has to be said however that while the plot and characters are cheesy and cliche this movie has some iconic scenes; The upside-down kiss, Macy Gray parade fight, slow-mo blade dodge, the bridge scene and the final flag pole swing. The wrestling match giving birth to one of the best memes of the previous decade, Bonesaw is READY! The imagery in this film is fantastic. A real snapshot of the early 2000s with cheesy parts but beautiful cinematography.
We also need to talk about J.K. Simmons, he is incredible in this film. Every scene he’s in is elevated by his hilarious melodramatic performance.
He deserves every laurel he has gotten for this portrayal, he is J. Jonah Jameson from cigar to moustache. He adds so much to the entertainment value of the film that my frustrations with the film’s version of MJ and Peter melted away as soon as he made the above face. He’s just having so much fun so you have fun watching him.
Also Willem Dafoe is his usually incredible self, and his snarl is both terrifying and hilarious.
This film is an iconic while it has it’s faults, without it we wouldn’t have the Marvel Cinematic Universe we have today. 7/10