Saturday, May 04, 2002

Spider-Man (IMDB) (Netflix)
Casting Tobey Maguire, a scrawny, vegetarian, yoga-practicing actor who specializes in playing troubled characters, seemed like a colossal case of mis-casting for a super hero. But this is Spider-Man, the anti-hero super hero, who can't catch a break, even when he's saving scores of would-be crime victims and pawns of the Green Goblin's madness, making Maguire the perfect choice, as long he bulks up a little.

Compared to the campy-cartoonish Superman movies, this is a much darker, more textured and more interesting story that you'd expect from the stylish Sam Raimi, who's the only director I know of these days who wears a coat and tie to work and is said to have been a Spider-Man fanatic since he was a kid. Although the action sequences stretch the abilities of computer-generated imagery, Raimi knows how to blend special effects and camera moves as well as any movie director, and when Spider-Man swings Tarzan-like through the city, he really swings. Willem Defoe makes for a pretty malevalent Green Goblin, and Kirsten Dunst more than holds her own as Mary Jane, Spidey's love interest. Nice round of applause at the end of the film--a true crowd-pleaser.

PS--There was a short-but-incredibly-effective trailer for Ang Lee's The Hulk, starring the Delta Force stud in Black Hawk Down, Eric Bana, and I've never heard such a moan of disappointment when the words "May 2003" came up at the end. This movie already has "want to see" scores that rival Attack of the Clones.