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May 06, 2002 - Image 10

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Publication:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2002-05-06

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ARTS

a

Monday i O
May 6, 2002

SOMETHING TO MARVEL AT

Raimi's 'S der-Man
crowned 'ng o the
superhero film ill

4

By Luke Smith
Daily Arts Editor
Somewhere in New Jersey, Brodie
Bruce just found heaven on earth. The
adaptation of Stan Lee and Steve Ditko's
Spider-Man finally awards the 40 year-
old comic book web-crawler a film fit
for a hero.
Director Sam Raimi
(most notably "Evil
Dead" trilogy, "A Simple ID
Plan" and "Darkman")
undertook the task of ISPIDER
bringing the legend to A
life. The film follows the Atuali
story of Peter Parker's
transformation into Spi-
der-Man from the earliest
level - serving as both a reminder of
how Spider-Man came to be and a per-
fect introduction to the character for a
new generation.
As the film opens, it would appear
there is no hero in sight. The unassum-
ing Peter Parker is nefariously not-cool,
and his inherent social bumbling is por-
trayed perfectly by Tobey Maguire. Not
until Parker is bit by a genetically altered
spider (here - comic fans scream defi-
antly because it didn't happen that way
in the books) does any sort of super-
heroic tranformation begin. After being
bitten, viewers see Peter Parker strug-

R
,
oz

gling to understand the changes his
body undergoes. A series of learning
experiences provide the film with comic
relief, but more importantly make Peter
Parker's transformation into a superhero
a believable one.
Two-time Academy Award nominee
Willem Dafoe plays Norman Osborn,
founder of Oscorp, a sci-
ence and technology firm
designing a genetic
A** A enhancement serum that
has perked the millitary's
,,,M.AN interest. Osborn takes
matters into his own
iase ad hands when it appears
time is running out for
any Oscorp's serum and
ingests the serum himself.
The result of Osborn's experiment is the
Green Goblin - Norman Osborn's dop-
pelganger. Willem Dafoe plays the
haunting Green Goblin with meticulous
insanity, and in one of the film's best
scenes, ends up conversing with the
Green Goblin through a mirror. Viewers
watch Dafoe's facial expressions change
and hear his voice shift depending on if
he is portraying the Green Goblin, or
Norman Osborn. Dafoe's portrayal of
his schizophrenically dichotomous char-
acter pushes Tobey Maguire's Spider-
Man/Peter Parker for the film's finest
performance.

4

a

Did Sony's spider sense predict a $100 million opening? No.
Kirsten Dunst turns in a modest per- film's action scenes (while CGI-generat-
formance as Mary Jane, Parker's long- ed) often look like they were lifted
time love interest, and in the comic directly off of the comic's pages. Daily
book, eventual wife. Dunst plays MJ - Bugle editor-in-chief J. Jonah Jameson
almost as over the top as Dafoe's (J.K. Simmons) is given his trademark
Osborn/Goblin. This however, is not flat-top and no nonsense attitude to
problematic. Super-hero movies need to boot. Spider-Man's battered, torn cos-
be over the top and Dunst (perhaps tume at the end of the film is torn
under Raimi's direction) recognized almost completely from the pages of the
this. Dunst and Maguire exhibit excel- Green Goblin/Spider-Man fight.
lent on-screen chemistry, and Mary Jane There are elements of the film that
does an excellent job of keeping the do not follow the comic book. Much of
dorky Peter Parker at an arm's length. the Mary Jane/Peter Parker storyline is
Their back and forth banter borders borrowed from a different character in
momentarily on cheese, but is no worse the comic, Gwen Stacy. This key part of
than Vicki Vale and Bruce Wayne's flirt- the storyline was crucial in the develop-
ing in "Batman." ment of Spider-Man in the comic book
"Spider-Man" fabulously executes a series;, it has been changed to Mary
transition from comic book to film, Jane for cinematic ease. Die-hard web-
largely through the visuals of the film. heads may also find themselves cring-
Spidey's costume looks incredible. The ing at Spider-Man's web shooters being

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a part of his biological make-up rather
than the small devices used in the
comic book. These discrepencies aside,
the film flows wonderfully from comic
book to wide-screen setting the bar for
comic book adaptations and super-hero
films to come.
NEWS AND NOTES
Raimi's "Spider-Man" banks
record setting box office - This
weekend "Spider-Man" set records
for opening day, one day and week-
end gross. It opened with $39,3 mil-
lion, followed by a take of $43.7
million on Saturday, both records.
The film's estimated weekend gross
is $114 million, about $24 million
more than "Harry Potter and the Sor-
cerer's Stone."
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