I'm sure there are a million soiled pairs of Spiderman Underoos
stretched to the breaking point over the lardasses of collectors,
fanboys and geeks this week. Spiderman, for many of them,
is the culmination of a lifetime of waiting and virginity. This
review is not for those geeks; they have dozens of chat rooms
where they can bicker among themselves about the irrelevant minutiae
on Friday nights while the rest of the world is out being normal
(that is, getting so drunk we vomit into open convertibles).
Geeks canonize the source material. With comics and fantasy
fans, the source material becomes infallible, so if the movie
follows its flaws and amateurishness religiously, it is perfect.
If there were a comic book called "Superturd" that about
a crimestopping pile of shit, the geeks would love the movie if
it were about shit. Their biggest quibbles would be over the amount
of corn or the texture. If I wrote a review and said "That
was shit. No plot, no story, no characters, just a lot of steaming
piles," they would all write to tell me how stupid I am.
"It was exactly like the comic!"
Personally, I don't care how faithful or unfaithful something
is to its source. It's got to stand on its own and that's how
I review the movie: not whether Mary Jane's hair was that color
red in the cartoon, but whether she is sympathetic. If you're
a geek, don't get mad, don't start hyperventilating at the sacrilege
of someone not giving a flying fuck about the make-believe mythology
of the only social sect lower than drunken unemployed gas jockeys.
Just walk away. Go stroke your action figure (or diddle your dodecahedron
die) until you've ensnared yourself in a gooey spidey web. Then
cry yourself to sleep.
This review is for those of us who don't know the difference
between Mary Jane and Lois Lane, and couldn't care less whether
the Green Goblin's mask was consistent with that shown in frame
six on page 14 of Spiderman Comic #167--Spiderman Gets Some! But
His Fans Never Will!
Having said all that in the hopes of discouraging e-mail from
hotheaded geeks who think verisimilitude is the only thing that
matters, let me say Spiderman is okay. It has to haul the
weight of the formula: boy loves girl who loves superhero boy
secretly is, villain is a famous person incognito, villain tries
to seduce hero to dark side, best friend is caught in the middle.
It's exactly the same plot as Batman and Superman
and probably Superturd if they ever make it. And it's a story
that expects us to take the superhero at face value; this boy-spider
is not an allegory for anything, not a symbol for a class of people
or culture. He is a boy spider who fights crime. That's a hard
sell for most of us.
Tobey Maguire is a brilliant scientist teen who lives with
his aunt and uncle and secretly pines for the big-boobied girl-next-door,
Kirsten Dunst. He gets more shit from his classmates than I did
the day my freshman year that I carved Debbie Leight's name into
my arm with a lead pencil and she responded by getting a restraining
order. I responded by getting violently ill from the lead. On
a school field trip to Columbia University, he is bit by a genetically-enhanced
spider. That night, he undergoes a transformation from scrawny
kid to super-strong superhero who can shoot webs and climb walls.
I remember undergoing a similar transformation as a teen, except
it was from happy child to moody, surly teem who buried his problems
at the bottom of a bottle. Maguire is still a bratty kid who jut
wants a convertible to impress Dunst until his father is killed
by carjackers. The incident goads him into vigilantism and wearing
tights. He goes on a crime-stopping spree, including frequently
saving Dunst, especially during a thunderstorm that only happens
to soak her T-shirt and make her nipples point to the stars. It
is a truly magical moment.
Meanwhile, Maguire's best friend, rich, moody kid James Franco,
is having trouble with his father, Willem Dafoe. Dafoe's defense
industry company is about to lose its contract if he can't prove
that his super-strength formulas works. He tests it on himself,
causing insanity and violence, and superstrength. The insanity
not only causes him to talk to himself a lot, but also to want
to kill his enemies, including Spiderman.
It seems like a weird coincidence that two people, one good
and one bad, would acquire superpowers in the same week. But then
again, New York is a big city. Here in Arvada, we'd have to wait
a lifetime for just one superhero. I once drank a bottle of cough
syrup and thought I could fly, but Mrs. Filthy stopped me before
I could check.
Director Sam Raimi does a swell job combining a comic book
look with the real world. Unlike Batman, this movie is supposed
to take place in the real city of New York, and real locations
like the library and Brooklyn Bridge are used as backdrops. The
pseudo-science of Dafoe's office is both comic-like and more real
than any of those shitty sci-fi movies where computers bloop and
bleep a lot and don't look anything like real machines.
The overall selection of settings, though, is pretty corny,
like a travelogue for Manhattan. And the whole movie is pretty
unimaginative. It follows the same trajectory of every superhero
movie with some interesting deviations in the details. I assume
that in the sequel, Maguire will reveal who he really is to Dunst.
Ho hum. The battles are surprisingly unimaginative and rehashed
CGI crap, and the damsel-in-distress-scenes are too many and too
The movie also felt too long and too serious. Cut a half hour
off, get Spiderman and Green
Goblin fighting sooner, and remember it's based on a comic book,
not the fucking bible. The soundtrack does nothing to differentiate
this movie from Batman or anything else Danny Elfman has
scored. It's the same gothic choir and swelling brass section
shit he ran into the ground five years ago.
Tobey Maguire is dull, and maybe that's what his character
is supposed to be, but if I wanted that I could go to the Cheshire
Cat and listen to yuppies talk about how good the microbrew is.
Too much time is spent at the beginning of the story establishing
that his character is a science whiz, but that information is
never used. Most likely, it had to be in there to appease the
geeks. He never uses his science skills because he's a fucking
freak that can shoot webs out of his hands. The movie makes a
point of showing the costume Maguire makes on his own. It's a
big joke, haha, because it's so shitty; just sweats with a spider
painted on them and a ski mask. But then it doesn't bother to
explain where he gets the professional looking version, which
still looks more like gay bondage tights than anything that could
scare a bad guy.
Kirsten Dunst is a very good actress, and each of her tits
under a wet shirt is worth a quarter the price of admission. I
mean, this is the kind of stuff that makes a man sitting alone
in a theater instinctively squeeze the Hamm's he smuggled in.
She's the best thing about the movie, but she's underused. She
mostly just has to scream, look scared and be rescued. Fuck, Raimi,
give the lady some balls. That's what guys dig; chicks with big
balls. Do a search on the Internet if you don't believe me. Her
character is nothing more than a trace outline of a human being:
aspiring actress, has a mean father, helpless and of indeterminate
intelligence. I want to get to know her better before I go home
and jerk off while thinking about her.
Dafoe's Green Goblin is a fucking joke. He looks like and acts
as scary as a Mattel Hot Wheel welded onto the head of a Transformer.
If I had a villain this lame I would give him something funny
to say. But this is serious shit. Even the scenes when Dafoe's
sane and insane sides argue, including one in a mirror, are played
like Citizen Kane. Uh, yeah, right. His rivalry with Spiderman
is tangential and contrived. It would have been better for Maguire
as a science whiz to be hired by Dafoe and then discover his plans.
Instead, their connection is as roundabout and tenderfooted as
a postmaster telling a mail carrier holding a gun why he is being
Like I said, it's a decent movie, it looks good and has nice
details, but it's tied too closely to its formula and too afraid
of the geeks to veer from the corny plots of the comics. For once
and for all, Hollywood, you don't have to listen to the comic
book freaks. They aren't cool, they're just loud. Three Fingers