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Reel Critics

David Silva

David Silva is the city editor of the News-Press, the sister

publication of the Leader.

In the evolution of big-budget superhero films, you first have to fly

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before you can crawl.

Although larger-than-life heroes have been a box-office staple for

generations, 1978’s “Superman” was the first to present the comic book

superhero as modern cinema. The American movie audience proved ready and

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willing to believe that a man in blue tights could evoke fear in hardened

criminals.

Now comes “Spider-Man,” the latest effort in Hollywood’s seemingly

endless quest to strain our credulity. I caught the film against my

better judgment, having been put off over the years by those godawful

“Batman” films and the debacle that was “X-Men.” So I cannot express

enough what a surprising joy it was to have been able to recapture that

sense of breathless exhilaration that I first experienced watching

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“Superman” 24 years ago.

Director Sam Raimi has a talent for thrilling the nerves and shocking

the senses, and with “Spider-Man,” he is at the zenith of his craft.

The story moves along at a clipped pace, taking us through the

mundane, painfully nerdish life of young Peter Parker to his fateful

encounter with a genetically enhanced spider. From that moment onward,

it’s all high adventure, with the suddenly super-powerful teen swinging

from the skyscrapers of New York City toward his fearful duelings with

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the diabolical Green Goblin.

You don’t need to be a longtime fan of the “Spider-Man” comics to

appreciate what a masterwork of casting this film is, but it helps. Tobey

Maguire is the ultimate everyman, a nice but uninspired and uninspiring

soul upon whom greatness is thrust. And nobody does cackling, bug-eyed

insanity like Willem Dafoe, whose Norman Osborn/Green Goblin

transformation is movie villiany at its best.

“Spider-Man” is the perfect film for couples who can never decide on

what to see. It’s got heart-stopping action, heart-rending drama and

heart-pounding romance. In short, it’s a film with heart.

Excelsior!

“Spider-Man” is rated PG-13.


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