Is ''Spider-Man'' any good? If you like stunning special effects and can tolerate some lame dialogue, then the new trailer suggests it just might be, says Brian Hiatt
Spider-Man, Spider-Man

Is ”Spider-Man” any good?

Spider-Man has worked in Manhattan for almost 40 years, but he’s rarely ridden mass transit. Instead, the Marvel Comics hero swings across town by spinning his web from building to building — a mode of transport that always looked cool in cartoons and comic books, but seemed downright impossible to depict in a live-action movie.

It’s too soon to say for certain whether ”Spider-Man,” due in theaters May 3, will, in fact, be good. But based on the stunning broad-daylight shots of our hero swinging above midtown Manhattan in the movie’s new trailer, it’s clear that Spider-Man and CGI were meant for each other. Shot with the fluidity of ”The Matrix” and the kinetic energy of ”Evil Dead 2” (”Spider-Man” director Sam Raimi’s cult classic), the web-slinging scenes may set a new standard for bringing comic-book visuals to life.

Which is not to say that the movie looks perfect. Some hardcore online fans complain that Spider-Man appears ”too cartoony” — a criticism that would be better applied to Green Goblin (Willem Dafoe), the film’s villain, who already looks like the plastic action figure he’s destined to be. Dafoe is imprisoned inside a fright mask and green suit with the fit and finish of a Honda Civic; it doesn’t look as dumb as the original comic-book design of the character (which always appeared to be a budget-priced Halloween costume), but it’s close. And the ”I am a very, very evil villain”-style cackle Dafoe uses in the new trailer doesn’t bode well for his performance, either.

There are also signs that the dialogue in ”Spider-Man” — always a pitfall in fantasy movies — might not share the special effects’ sparkle. ”Not everyone is meant to make a difference,” muses Spidey’s alter ego Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) in the new trailer. ”But for me, the choice to live an ordinary life is not an option.” Hey dude, if it’s a choice, isn’t it an option? The trailer also shows Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst) getting a little too excited about stumbling onto a soaking-wet Spider-Man as he hangs above her in the dark. ”You are amazing,” she says — when he actually looks kind of scary.

The new preview (which relies too heavily on shots seen in previous trailers) also gives little hint of how the movie will deal with Spider-Man’s everyday life as friendless schlub Peter Parker — a key element of the character’s appeal. The awe-inspiring shots of Spidey in action could add up to just another soulless blockbuster if Maguire doesn’t make his character a recognizable human. But he’d probably get to make ”Spider-Man 2” anyhow.

Are you looking forward to seeing ”Spider-Man”?

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