Saturday, November 7, 2009

#437: Spiderman (2002)

Director: Sam Raimi
Cast: Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, Willem Dafoe & James Franco

Peter Parker was an average science geek finishing up high school when a bizarre twist of fate altered his plans for the future. While on a school trip, he gets bitten by a "genetically enhanced" spider whose venom alters Parker's genes to become a superhero with spider-like abilities. Soon after he gains his abilities, his uncle is killed in a hijacking, teaching Peter a valuable lesson in responsibility. Peter trains his abilities to fight a madman who is destroying the city, all while being the secret admirer of Mary Jane, the girlfriend of Peter's best friend, Harry.

Today, this film is just another blockbuster to watch on TNT when nothing else was on. But do you all remember how big of a deal it was when it came out? It was a return of comic book heroes to the silver screen... aside from the awful Batman films that were coming out in the late '90s. But even more important than that, it was a return of the good guy. Even Batman, with all his good intentions, has a very dark side. Peter Parker, on the other hand, is all about goodness, and there's really no other actor than Tobey Maguire to represent a good guy.

Maguire had some really intense training to get the body he needed for this role, and he really ends up perfect for the role in both acting and physique. James Franco is also a great addition to the film - it's unfortunate that he hasn't had any big breakthrough performance, because he is actually quite talented. Kirsten Dunst, on the other hand... well, let's just say she's done what we'd expect of her.

The lessons Peter learns along the way are good, albeit now cliché from the comic book world, so there's not really a whole lot else to say about this film or its sequels, besides the fact that they're loads of fun.

Fun Trivia (Stolen from IMDB):
  • The Green Goblin was chosen as the film's main villain since Sam Raimi felt the father-son theme (Norman and Harry Osborn and Peter Parker) would make the film deeper.
  • Several Spider-Man costumes were created at a cost of up to $100,000 each. Four were stolen from the set in early April of 2001 and Columbia Pictures posted a $25,000 reward for their return. The costumes were not returned.
  • One of the chief difficulties that Tobey Maguire experienced in the now-famous upside-down kissing scene was that his sinuses kept filling up with water as it was performed in driving rain.
  • In order to come up with the look of the high school kids, the costume department sent disposable cameras to schoolteachers in New York City and had them distribute them among their students to take pictures of each other.
  • Color costume considerations meant that Spider-Man was shot in front of a green screen, while the Green Goblin was shot in front of a blue one.
  • The original trailer for the movie depicted a theft of a bank, with the robbers making a getaway in a helicopter. A close-up of the helicopter was shown, until the helicopter stopped, apparently caught in mid-air. As the camera zoomed out, it was shown that the helicopter was caught in a spider web, suspended between the two towers of the World Trade Center. After the attacks on the towers 11 September 2001, however, the trailer was changed.
  • David Koepp's fourth screenplay to hold the opening weekend box office record. The others are Jurassic Park (1993) (June 1993),Mission: Impossible (1996) (May 1996) and The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997) (May 1997).
  • The scene in which Peter Parker catches Mary Jane's lunch on the tray involved no CGI. With the help of a sticky substance to keep the tray planted on his hand, Tobey Maguire eventually (after many takes) performed the stunt exactly as seen.
  • During the conversation outside the library, Uncle Ben quotes to Peter the famous words, "With great power comes great responsibility." This well-quoted line actually came from a 1962 published issue, so it debuted there 14 years before a short story by Isaac Asimov which later was made into the movie Bicentennial Man (1999), which some attribute wrongly as the source of this phrase.
  • The diner that Mary Jane Watson worked at is the same diner (at least the exterior) where Monica worked in the early seasons of"Friends" (1994).

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