First off lets talk about the cast. Toby Maguire was great in The Cider House Rules. He's just a solid actor. But I was seriously wary of him in the role of the webbed one. He seemed like a flimsy choice. He needed to pull off the one liners, but still convince us of his love for Mary Jane. But he pulls it off admirably. From the goofy glasses wearing scenes in the beginning to his badass battle scenes towards the end, its a solid showing. The best scenes in the whole movie are the ones where we see Peter Parker coming to grips with his new spider powers.
Now I'm gonna skip in a bit with a statement about staying true to comic books. Yes- some of the details have been changed from the books. Like most noticably, the nature of Spiderman's webbing. But whatever- this is story telling and it works for me.
Kirsten Dunst does a good job in what could have been a bland role in the hands of an actress who was just a pretty face. Mary Jane is convincing, and since she is in many ways the thing that grounds spiderman, its a tough burden. And the other biggie is of course the head of Oscorp, Mr. Norman Osborn, Willem Defoe. he does allright, but most of his maniacal scenes are covered by a mask that leaves him little room for any actual facial expressions.
So the plot: Boy loves girl. Boy gets bit by radioactive spider and develops super powers. Boys friend's dad inhales nano gas that makes him super powerful, and super crazy. Boy explores powers and eventually must save city from the attack of the newly crazed buddy's dad, all while dealing with the loss of his family. It's spiderman in a nutshell, and it's just damn solid.
The special effects are smooth. From the ads I was a little concerned since spiderman looked a little fake leaping around. But within the context of the movie it usually worked for me. They looked unnatural, but frankly seeing spiderman leap off inflatable balloon floats and swinging around flagpoles suspended by spiderwebs is already pretty unnatural so I let the suspension of disbelief win out on this one.
Danny Elfman hasn't sounded this good since Batman. I loved the score. It doesn't really feel original, but it sure fits like a glove.
In short, its a great movie. I won't comic-book-guy the details that were missed in the transition from paper to film, but I think they did a great job of making an entertaining movie, and staying extremely true to what I think Spiderman is all about. And goddamn it, the raw sense of excitement as he discovers his abilities is enough to make every guy wish he had those powers- swinging from building to building and howling like a mad freak. God I loved it. Congratulations to everyone involved- you win.
All that, and I even scored tickets to the 12:01 showing of star wars on opening day ;)