Owen Gleiberman
May 17, 2002 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Spider-Man

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
PG-13
Wide Release Date
05/03/02
performer
Willem Dafoe, Kirsten Dunst, Tobey Maguire, James Franco, Rosemary Harris, Cliff Robertson, J.K. Simmons
director
Sam Raimi
Producer
Avi Arad
distributor
Columbia Pictures, Sony Pictures Entertainment
author
David Koepp
genre
ActionAdventure, Sci-fi and Fantasy

We gave it a B

A canny franchise escapade. It has been excitingly staged by director Sam Raimi, but it’s also a lightweight, mock-campy, script-by-David ”The One-Man Committee” Koepp movie that leaves you hungry for something more. The offbeat casting of Tobey Maguire, with his gurgly-voiced passivity, works well, especially in the early scenes, when sweetly bashful high school science dork Peter Parker discovers his enhanced, super-spider powers. As he learns to control his spurting web (the way adolescents will), he begins to use it as a giant slingshot trapeze, and we’re with him every step — and leap — of the way. The terrific digital effects mirror the crude vitality of the Spidey drawings in the Marvel comics. But unlike, say, Tim Burton’s Batman, the movie never really draws you into an extravagant universe of good and evil at war, and at play.

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