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Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

FILM DETAILS
Certificate
12
Cast
Tobey Maguire
Willem Dafoe
Kirsten Dunst
James Franco
Rosemary Harris
Cliff Robertson.
Directors
Sam Raimi.
Screenwriters
David Koepp.
Running Time
121 minutes

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Spider-Man


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Plot
An overdue big screen take on a renowned comic book. When a high school photographer is bitten by a genetically-altered spider, he gains arachnid-esque powers and becomes a crime-fighter.


Review
With a $100 million-plus budget and a comic book legend comes great responsibility, and Sam Raimi has not fumbled. A perfect melding of director and subject, this supremely entertaining take on the worldwide web-slinger pulls off the nifty trick of satisfying the fanboy geeks, the Raimi freaks, and the movie thrill-seeker in one sublime swoop.

Outstripping last summer’s blockbusters, what’s great about Spider-Man is its ability to hold onto seemingly obsolete values — characters you can root for, plotting that makes sense — while still delivering maximum bang for the buck.

In a leisurely opening more reminiscent of Superman than anything by Simon West, Raimi sketches Peter Parker’s geek credentials with telling character beats. Once the spider skills have been acquired — Maguire brings an endearing goofiness to his first attempts at web-slinging — the script (although lacking trademark Spidey oneliners) strikes a streamlined simplicity: it’s Spidey vs. Green Goblin. No masterplans to freeze the city, just showdown after beautiful showdown.

Amid all the comic book action, however, Raimi preserves Spider-Man’s (both character and movie) humanity. Maguire effortlessly makes the transition from alpha-nerd to action man with skill and aplomb; playing niftily on his indie film persona, he invests Peter with a winning warmth while remaining believable as someone uneasy in the confines of his own skin.

His relationship with small town love Mary Jane (Dunst, appealing in a poorly-conceived role) is sweet and endearing, adding an emotional element missing from many blockbusters. Staying the right side of hammy, Dafoe is brooding with intensity as mad scientist Norman Osborn, and brimming with evil glee as his alter-ego, Green Goblin.

If occasionally a dodgy CGI shot slips through the net, the realisation of Spider-Man cavorting through a bustling metropolis, barely in control of his own trajectory, is a spandex ballet so exuberant and damn-right cool that it doesn’t matter.

Be it the sight of Spidey swinging round flagpoles or landing on balconies, exhilaration outstrips execution to make neck hairs stand to attention.

For all Spider-Man’s reputation as the gaudy, sunny side of superherodom, Raimi manages to syringe some darkness into the mix. There’s the genuinely unnerving moment when Norman, taunted by the Goblin’s cackles, goes searching for the source, only to be confronted by his own face in the mirror.

Or the fantastic image of Parker’s face glimpsed through the ripped Spider-Man’s mask, capturing the warped duality of the character. And the final Spidey/ Goblin showdown has a stylised brutality that’s more punishing than any cert. 12 has the right to be.

Despite a below-par Danny Elfman score, Raimi’s direction is marked by a craftsmanship that befits blockbuster prestige but still retains his unique sensibility. When the genetically-modified spider bites into Parker, the camera is total Raimi with its twists and spirals.

Even more impressive, an impressionistic montage depicting Parker dreaming up the Spidey suit and the Matrix-esque portrayal of his emerging spider-sense rank among cinema’s greatest renderings of purely comic book conceits. Much like the movie itself.


Verdict
Spider-Man, Spider-Man does whatever a spider can — and much more. Practically pitch-perfect summer entertainment.


Reviewed by Ian Freer


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Average user rating for Spider-Man
Empire Star Rating

Superb

A very, very good comic book blockbuster that would soon be topped by its brilliant sequel. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Mr Gittes at 13:48, 08 February 2013 | Report This Post


Spider-Man Review

Not only does Spider-Man provide a good dose of web-swinging fun, it also has a heart, thanks to the combined charms of director Sam Raimi and star Tobey Maguire. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by the film man at 22:57, 13 December 2011 | Report This Post


Great beginning of a one of the well known Marvel superhero characters ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Ciaran McDaid at 22:46, 29 October 2011 | Report This Post


MASTERPIECE

Tobey Maguire has a huge bundle to carry playing the role of Peter Parker, and he pulls the role off with sheer brilliance, Tobey your a saint. The film was well paced and although I'm not a huge fan of Sam Raimi I have too give him credit for his directorial skills as he pulls this film in to the classics zone. Franco,Dunst, Harris and Dafoe all pull of great performances, and this film SPIDERMAN proves itself too be a masterpiece, shame about the shitty sequels. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by lewisb548 at 16:55, 04 April 2011 | Report This Post


Wow

I thought it was epic. The story was well carried by Toby Maguire and the whole Green Goblin Spiderman rivalry was excellent and perfectly paced. Inspirational stuff ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Zayd Awan at 12:55, 30 October 2010 | Report This Post


Spiderman - webtastic

Marval comic spiderman comes to life by Sam Raimi expertise in this outstanding film of love, hate, choices, villians and heroes in this action packed swinging adventure. Try the upside down kiss :p ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by deppfanatic at 20:54, 21 September 2009 | Report This Post


second best superhero movie franchise out there

i am a massive fan of the new nolan batman films but the second best superhero franchise out there slightly towering above del toros hellboy, singers x men and recently favreaus iron man would be raimis spiderman with 1 and 2 being brilliant films and fantastic entertainment both worthy of 4 stars ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by THE DALTONATOR at 09:36, 27 January 2009 | Report This Post


whys goblin a power ranger

1 of the best films ever not as good as dark knight though ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by BRADENGUNNY at 00:35, 29 October 2008 | Report This Post


Worth it...

Ok, alittle story: I remember back in 1994 when my brother showed me an article in the back of a Spider-man comic he had bought that plans were under way for a Spider-Man movie. Much excitement was expressed ...but then after years we kinda gave up hope. Nearly 7 or 8 years after hearing a movie was planned Raimi's vision of Spidey hit the big screen and I stand by what I said when I 1st came out the cinema after seeing it: "It was SO worth the wait!" ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by SkullKassidy at 12:08, 24 September 2008 | Report This Post


First Spidey

Great film. Suffers from many of the problems that origin films do--too much explanation, backstory, character intro. But, good action, acting, and effects. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by lynnshep at 04:26, 22 July 2008 | Report This Post


3 and a half stars

I wish they did"nt have that scene when he was the rooftop shouting...Fly,kisam go,go,that"s not funny that"s just ridiculous! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by JohnPaul1996 at 14:07, 29 June 2008 | Report This Post


Spider-Man

Spider-man is simply the best superhero movie in the world. Because of the balance of action, thrill, humour and drama really makes the characters come to life and feel convincing. Spider-man isn't like other superheroes who have comfortable lifestyles, he is just basically just your average Joe who has social, job, love and teenaged problems that we all go through and that is why the character is so believable. In short Spider-man is just your ordinary guy who has superpowers and the responsibi... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by usayeed haque at 12:50, 22 March 2008 | Report This Post


Decent Comic Movie

Real Entertainment, nulled only by Dunst's unsuitably sickly-sweet demeanour. A real shame to kiss off that last star, huh? ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by blaud at 13:29, 17 March 2008 | Report This Post


Its better and bolder than others

Its better than Batman and more action packed than superman, it can't be beaten and remains untouchable by any other marvel to film franchise ever. Possibly the greatest super heo flick to date snd spans another two films, SuperMan 2 and 3, and Sam Riami the class urber cool director behind the million dollar franchise has announed he wants to direct spidy 4. Toby Maguire is the nerdy friend of billionaire Harry Osbourne who's father later becomes the scary but brilliant Green Goblin played ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Big Alex at 09:18, 06 August 2007 | Report This Post


Spiderman

Not quite as good as I had hoped, but still a good comic book movie. You can tell Raimi loves the character, as its really well put together. At times a little too schmaltzy, and visually falls flat slightly whenever the Green Goblin appears, but Dafoe gives a great performance which helps the character rise above the at times shakey FX. The action sequences are well staged and the film has a good pace, but, in my opinion, is beaten by its follow up. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by zombiewarehouse at 15:24, 14 March 2007 | Report This Post


Spiderman

I think Sam Rami has done a really good job of creating Spiderman on the big screen. Its really hard to belive that it was that it was this film that sparked controversy over the certificates. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by solid snake at 11:24, 09 February 2007 | Report This Post


Spiderman = Excellent

Spiderman is as flawless as batman begins although not as good. Spiderman is the movie that started this superhero craze-bad-but it started it in a good way as other superhero movies like superman, batman and xmen are just copying the great parts of this. As fantastic four and well...the fantastic four just dosent quite do what spiderman has done. Stunning and if you havent already seen it watch it. Spiderman 2 isnt a bad sequel but it just isnt as good-just like the matrix but spiderman 3 look... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by rockerjo at 16:20, 28 January 2007 | Report This Post


Spider-Man, brilliant start for Marvel in the movie industry

Strange cast and choice of director but worked superbly well. Willem Dafoe hammered so much as the villianous Green Goblin but steals the whole movie. The CGI are a bit dodgy in most parts of the movie but it is certainly top notch summer entertainment. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by auron_guardian at 12:57, 23 January 2007 | Report This Post


Spiderman!

Wow this film! It was fantastic! Very well done, great cast and great graphics! Although that green goblin did seem a little gay!!!!! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Empo at 13:28, 14 November 2006 | Report This Post


WOO HOO

WOO HOO ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by 237267 at 10:30, 09 October 2006 | Report This Post


WOO HOO

WOO HOO ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by 237267 at 10:29, 09 October 2006 | Report This Post


WOO HOO

WOO HOO ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by 237267 at 10:29, 09 October 2006 | Report This Post


Amazing

Still excellent after all these years - solid characters that we actually care about, a suitably simple story, great script and plenty of emotional highs and lows. The SFX are mostly superb, the action scenes are top notch and Spidey's movement is spot on throughout. Plenty of humour in there too - Peter's transition from nerd to superhero still gets more than a few laughs after all this time! The final Spidey v Green Goblin scenes are exhilarating and Peter's choice at the end entirely appropr... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Hillsman at 11:12, 17 July 2006 | Report This Post


Amazing. The bit where his uncle dies, I was so close to crying. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by huny_monster at 09:46, 24 June 2006 | Report This Post


amazing

amazing spiderman. saw this when i was 18. watched it numerous times. loved it!!! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by alexisreaver2132 at 13:09, 16 May 2006 | Report This Post


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