Learning the meaning of responsiblity, a boy grows into a man.
Spider-Man brings to reel life the comic book published by Marvel Comics. This movie's overall structure could be split into 2 parts: Peter Parker's life pre-Spider-Man, and his life post-Spider-Man. The pre-Spider-Man part focuses on our protagonist's background as an unpopular school nerd who nonetheless receives plenty of love and nurture in the home of his Uncle Ben and Aunt May. At the same time, the girl next door, Mary Jane Watson, does not even notice his existence. This movie faithfully follows the comic book in terms of how Peter Parker gained his super powers. Once these pre-requisite parts (which are necessary to give the audience a foundation of Peter Parker's life) are wrapped up, the story develops in 2 ways. First, Peter has to experiment and learn about the limits of his new abilities, and understand the responsibilities that he has been given. Second, an antagonist emerges to oppose this newborn hero.
In a sense, the movie's structure is no different than any other movie about a super hero ---Batman and Superman were developed the same way. But unlike these other films, Spider-Man is humorous and witty. And unlike the dark, gloomy, and fictitious Gotham in Batman and the urban but also fictitious Metropolis in Superman, Spider-Man's base of operations, if you will, is the vibrant Big Apple, New York City. The home of Uncle Ben and Aunt May is located in Forest Hills, Queens. Peter goes to school in Queens, and freelances as a photographer for a Manhattan based newspaper. Most obvious is the fact that Peter as Spider-Man swings from rope-like webs stuck to Manhattan skyscrapers. The audience gets a big dose of the Big Apple scenery, particularly Queens.
The casting of the actors and actresses is absolutely fantastic. Tobey Maguire was a relative unknown, and it was a big leap of faith on the part of the director Sam Raimi to entrust Tobey with this lead role. But Raimi's decision wasn't hard to understand ---- Tobey is young and skinny (and thus perfect physically to play Peter), but full of emotions; he IS an actor. Using Kirsten Dunst to play Tobey's romantic interest, Mary Jane, is also understandable. In this movie, Mary Jane is portrayed as a somewhat wild child, partly due to the emotional abuse she suffers at home from her dad. Kirsten nailed this role down pat in her performance as the out-of-control daughter of a Senator in the romance film Crazy/Beautiful. The biggest surprise was the actor chosen to play the villain, The Green Goblin ---- Willem Dafoe. He was a big unknown on the silver screen, and yet Willem delivered a frighteningly wicked performance as the diabolical Green Goblin. Willem's mocking laughter, "Gaw-gah-gah--gah-hah-hah-hah-hah" is simply spine-chilling, the kind of sound that throws you awake in the middle of the night. But because this movie contained so many emotional scenes for Peter, Tobey should get full credit and recognition for crying and grieving at his mortally wounded Uncle's side; for talking, as if in a trance, about what he supposedly told Spider-Man about Mary Jane; and for the regret and remorse he felt at rejecting her love. Credit also goes to the script writers for including these scenes in the movie, and for making Peter Parker, and through him the audience, learn the meaning of love, responsibility, and sacrifice.
The music is average. Although the sound effects are loud and appropriate, the soundtrack in general isn't memorable. The Spider-Man DVD comes with a second disc that includes such extras as background info on Spider-Man's loves and villains from the comic book, and interviews of the cast, director, and producer. While these extras are a nice bonus to have, they wouldn't sway your decision to buy this DVD. This movie offers a wonderful story about an extraordinary character, and it is highly recommended for the young and old alike.