Monday, October 17, 2011
Spider-Man weaves a tangled web of exciting, well-directed acting and near-perfect casting to help audiences swing into theaters.
ARTH VADER (AV): This one's an instant classic! I'm going to jump right in here, Pontificator. Director Sam Raimi in this now-classic example of a superhero movie from 2002, is riveting. The origin of ol' web head is as close to the original as any on-screen portrayal of any on-film, this side of Superman: The Movie (1977 Christopher Reeves, R.I.P.). Spidey is one of the most iconic fictional characters of the 20th century. Peter Parker's mix of teenage angst meets nerdy solitude is the perfect coming-of-age tale we can all relate to. Unrealized love (or passion) for the unattainable Mary-Jane Watson (played by the stunning and well-casted Kirsten Dunst), this movie did more than re-kindle our fascination with the mythos of Spider_Man…this movie was just plain fun.
THE PONTIFICATOR (TP): Very nice leap Vader! Surprisingly this movie stuck relatively close to the comics. All the major elements are presented and were blended together very well. The minor changes didn’t detract from the movie at all. It simply wasn’t an issue that his webs were organic instead of his special blend of formula stored in cartridges. All told, it was one of the closest representations of a comic coming to the silver screen.
CASTING, DIRECTING & ACTING:
AV: James Franco as Harry Osborn, Willem DaFoe and Mr Pleasantville himself, Tobey McGuire in the lead made this film a joy to watch. Each character was believable and grounded. A solid corps of acting veterans, including J.K. Simmons (now the lead face-man in the currently running Farmers Insurance ad campaign) and the talented Bill Nunn (Radio Rahiem!) as Robbie Robertson. Simmon's fast-paced, witty, rambling banter as the intolerable J. Jonah Jameson was a pleasant surprise and channels the fever-pitch chaotic nature of a big city newspaper editor.
TP: The casting and acting was awesome. Tobey Maguire was the perfect Peter Parker...had this been wrong, it would have unraveled the entire movie. Willem Dafoe was a pleasure to watch both as Norman Osborne and the Green Goblin. I always find him to be a menacing presence when he sinks his talent into such roles. Nobody in the entire cast did less than spectacular...but I was really impressed with J.K. Simmons as J. Jonah Jameson. His quick answers and impulsive reactions were an absolute riot and very true to the character.
AV: Subsequently, the direction of this movie is also quite stunning. Really. Consider Raimi's liberal use of special effects, particularly in the cops & robbers chase sequence, it is fast-paced and filled with action and off-the-chart tempo pacing but keeps the viewer engaged and delighted throughout the entire event. Well handled fiction movie-making at it's finest. Mr. Raimi, my hat is off to you!
SPECIAL EFFECTS (SFX):
AV: Ah, special effects. The make-or-break of any modern science fiction, fantasy or action movie these days. The special effects in Sider-Man did an incredible job of keeping the viewer seeing things from multiple view points. While this is an extension of Raimi's directing talents, the movie tracks flawlessly as a life-as-comic book experience exposing the viewer to events from the POV of bystanders, antagonists, the hero(s) and pivotal characters alike. Like a comic book, these varied viewpoints seamlessly take me from one perspective to the next – often in the same scene! – and moves us through the adventure more as a participant than an observer. What does this have to do with SPFX? Well, everything in my eyes. I just don't think this movie could have been done in the 1990's. The camera work, great acting (amazingly well engineered sound design!) and effects shots blend so seamlessly, the film accomplishes a very tall order – to make the viewer believe this young man has the powers of a spider.
TP: The effects were very well done and brought Spidey to life like never before. There were a few scenes where I could tell that the CGI was...well, CGI. Running over the rooftops was one such scene, and it looked too obvious. However, the rest of the effects were stunning from the flips to Spidey swinging into action. The fight scenes were particularly done well as the use of slow motion was very refined and enhanced all the scenes it was used in.
TAKING A DEEPER LOOK:
AV: Hey, Pontificator, I must say, the depth of this movie blew me away on DVD even after nearly ten years from seeing it in the theater. Why? It's the best example I can think of that represents a well-handled, well developed super hero movie. While there are some that have transcended the cape-and-tights stigma, most still start getting overly ambitious and make the entire experience confusing or even worse…forgettable. Too many details, over-the-top special effects and no coherent writing (kind of like our blog!). Spider-Man weaves a delightful yet sobering tale that is end-capped with the now classic catch-phrase "…with great power comes great responsibility". Even the cage-match wrestling sequence sticks like cobwebs to the original story (a masterfully written and drawn story by the God-father of comic books, Stan Lee and the late, trailblazing artistry of Steve Ditko).
TP: I agree Vader, this film stands the test of time very well. This was the first super hero movie to “have it all.” It’s always been my theory that it did so well when it was released because it had something for everyone. Action junkies got their fix, romance seekers found love, and comedy criminals were arrested by laughter. Admittedly, this should be one of the easiest movies to make just for the fact it only had one hero and villain. However, it seems that attention to detail in even the smallest part, was meticulously laid out and filmed to perfection. All this...and a Stan Lee cameo for icing.
A Tribute From Arth Vader & The Pontificator: We want to take this moment to pay a special Boxed Office salute to the "Macho Man" Randy Savage. Playing the perfectly-casted role of 'Bonesaw McGraw' in Spider-Man, the late Mr. Savage was a delightful larger-than-life character from our childhood and early formative years. Those not familiar with him would do well to learn of his impact on the entertainment world, a life that was grounded in professional wrestling but was a terrific and colorful life of triumph and tragedy but a true champion and a man whose presence is missed even today. "Macho-Man" Randy Savage , taken all too quickly from us – November 15, 1952 – May 20, 2011. Rest in Peace.
AV: Well we know about his one, folks. At least kind of. Spider-Man 2 had moments of greatness –coupled with almost many WTF moment! – and may very well end up being a future "classic" review here at the boxed office. I won't even acknowledge the cinematic train wreck that is the disaster known as Spider-Man 3. Though, as the writing of this post, Ponty, I understand "The Amazing Spider-Man" series re-boot is doing quite well and looks just frackin' hot! Thankfully, like the comic books, this character has traction and depth that transcends one or two bad installments (kind of like the comic books). It is a shame (sorry to beat a dead horse folks) that Marvel Studios couldn't re-capture the rights to ole' web head movies and do this right but us Fan Boys will take what we can get. I foresee nothing but a bright future for the Spider-Man cinema franchise for many years to come.
TP: Of course there was enough material for a sequel. There is enough Spider-Man material to make a dozen more movies... even though they settled on three before doing a reboot. I won’t get into any of the other movies just yet...but those reviews should be very interesting if I’ve read you correctly Arth.
ARTH VADER rates Spider-Man: This movie is a case-study for following through on what works. Spider-Man first weaved his web of awesomeness in Amazing Fantasy #15 more than 50 years ago (1962). There is a reason his story has survived for half-a-century. He has depth and volume as a character, and is one we can all relate to – the under dog – with a chance to overcome his greatest limitations…including himself. Well-acted, superbly directed and delightfully produced with a storyline that closely mirrors the original tale from 1962, I give our friendly neighborhood Spider-man (2002) an amazing 9 out of 10 busted blocks.
THE PONTIFICATOR Rates Spider-Man: A superb movie...easily in the top ten best ever super hero movies, if not in the top five. This movie spins a web capable of supporting eight, very big and very heavy, busted blocks.
Spider-Man: 8.5/10 Busted Blocks