A Better Kind of Action Film
JLFM - wrote on 07/26/12
Action movies are a dime a dozen. So many are released in a single year, yet so few are actually worth seeing. Spider-Man is one of the few worth seeing. Super hero films have never been all that appealing to me. More often than not, they end up being cheesy, cliched, and often campy. And while certain aspects of the film (most notably Green Goblin's outfit) are indeed campy, Spider-Man holds up very well, especially for a super hero film, and should not be shot down as simply another action film.
The story, as is with many action films, is quite simple. Peter Parker is bitten by a genetically enhanced spider, and is given spider-like abilities. Parker takes advantage of these abilities by doing good and protecting New York from wrong. But when a villain (nicknamed the Green Goblin) becomes determined to get rid of spidey, Parker has to protect himself, those he loves, and the city of New York.
While most action films are soulless excuses for explosions and elaborate fight scenes, Spider-Man is no such film. Spider-Man is smart, and unlike most super hero flicks, Spider-Man has heart.
The film starts off a little slow, truth be told. It's not excruciatingly dull, but the impatient may find themselves a little squirmy during the first 30-45 minutes.
That's okay, because the action really starts picking up after this. There is a very large number of action scenes, and while not all are exciting, they will at least entertain. There are a couple very good and tense action sequences, but the 2-3 inbetween these are usually less entertaining. Many of these lesser action scenes feel a lot like filler, actually.
Danny Elfman composed the score for Spider-Man and for the most part, he did a decent job. The score is grand, and sometimes quite exciting. But overall, it's a little less-than-amazing, and there's a few more rock-oriented pieces than I would've preferred.
Some of the visual effects look a little dated, as do some of the costumes. Even some of the dialogue may strike one as a little hammy, but these are only minor problems.
The biggest problem, however, resides in Spider-Man's run time. The film is roughly 2 hours long, and as such, feels a wee bit bloated at time. The slow beginning, the filler action scenes and even the somewhat tedious title sequence could've all been cut and shortened to create a more reasonable run time. This film could've easily been an hour and a half, instead, slow stretches occasionally appear inbetween action scenes.
The acting is done very well. Tobey Maguire's performance as Peter Parker certainly won't please everyone (his curious stupidity may irritate some), but he does a very commendable job, and the acting feels very natural. Willem Dafoe does very well with the role of the villain, Green Goblin, being both menacing and intelligent.
Still, J.K. Simmons gets the best part as the quick talking, sharp tongued (and woefully underused) J. Jonah Jameson, publisher of The Daily Bugle. Though he appears in only a few scenes, he's certainly a highlight. Spitting out countless quotable lines, JJJ is certainly the most memorable character in the film.
Spider-Man has a few noticeable flaws, but it boasts serviceable action, likeable characters, heart that many action films lack. It may not rank among the best of films, or even the best of action films, but it's a fun ride.