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
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
willing to believe that a man in blue tights could evoke fear in hardened
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
“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
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.
“Spider-Man” is rated PG-13.