Spiderman - Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) was a nerdy high school senior living in Queens, New York with his Aunt May (Rosemary Harris) and Uncle Ben (Cliff Robertson). He had a knack for all things scientific, a crush on the girl next door named Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst), and was best friends with Harry Osborn (James Franco), son of scientist and businessman Norman Osborn (Willem Dafoe). He was completely normal until the day that he was bitten by a genetically altered spider in a laboratory while on a school field trip. That night he grew ill, but the next morning awoke to discover that he wasn't quite the same. His slender body had suddenly become muscular and his eyesight improved beyond the need to wear glasses. In addition to that, Peter was now more agile, he could somehow stick to walls, and after some practice he learned how to shoot long, sturdy streams of a spider web-like substance from his wrists which he could then use to tie people up and swing through the streets of New York City. Hoping to use his newfound abilities to earn money with which to buy a car and impress Mary Jane, Peter entered an underground wrestling tournament. Upon defeating his opponent, Peter was screwed out of the prize money by the manager of the event, which is why he then refused to stop a robber who'd just stolen all of the manager's money. Upon returning to where his Uncle Ben had promised to pick him up, Peter discovered that the same robber he'd let go had taken the life of his uncle. From that day on, Peter Parker vowed to use his abilities only for good as per his uncle's advice that "with great power comes great responsibility". Donning a colorful costume adorned with spider-centric designs, Peter became the super hero called Spiderman. Meanwhile, fearing the demise of his business based on poor lab test results, Norman Osborn opted to foolishly try out a new physical enhancement serum his company had developed on himself. The experiment took a bad turn, driving Norman mad; his only thoughts now focused on revenge against those who would threaten his business. When Norman, being referred to as the Green Goblin by the local newspaper (The Daily Bugle), attacked and murdered his enemies during a parade, Peter took action by swinging onto the scene to fight him as Spiderman. After this encounter Norman realized that Spiderman was now a threat to him, and after discovering his foe's identity, decided to make things personal. In the wake of the first X-Men film, word on the street was that Spiderman would be the next comic book super hero to get the cinematic treatment. Rumors spread like wild fire as to who would direct the film and who would play Peter Parker with names like James Cameron and Leonardo DiCaprio being tossed about. It came as a complete shock to everyone when Sam Raimi, known for his low-budget horror films, was chosen to helm the project. Even more controversy was created when he chose Tobey Maguire, who was previously unfamiliar with action-oriented roles, to be his leading man. However, the project pushed ahead and was finally released in theaters to high praise and the fastest grossing of one hundred million dollars in history after just three days (which has since been exceeded). But forget all that mumbo jumbo...what do I think of the movie? Well, I love it. X-Men was exciting because it was the beginning of a new era of comic book movies. It had lots of characters exhibiting cool super powers, but when you get right down to it the story was a bit weak. This is a mistake that Spiderman did not mirror. This film is primarily an origin story. It shows our hero...well...becoming a hero. He goes from nobody to somebody and endures his first big struggle against someone of fairly equal standing in a fight. In regards to the plot and the script, the first Spiderman movie is great. All of the characters are spot on with their funny book counterparts, the birth of the hero was told almost verbatim to the original story that everyone loved, and the movie mixed comedy, action, and drama in a way that very few films have. In a way, what made Spiderman such a great movie was the fact that Raimi and co. stuck to the source material. After all, why change something people already love? I'm looking at you, Resident Evil. The things that I dislike about the first Spiderman film are few, and often trivial. First and foremost: Green Goblin's costume. While I'd have liked to see the tattered rags of the comic book character, I understand the need for change. I can't even complain too much about the body suit because the writers explain early on in the movie that the suit is meant for use in combat (hence all the armor) and is also meant to enable the wearer to properly operate the glider. I'm cool with all that. My problem lies with the helmet. Where the fuck did Norman Osborn get that thing? I can't believe that Oscorp would have designed those for use by military personnel. I know he's called the Green "Goblin", but it was a bit odd to me that Norman would have a scary monster head lying around. And even looking past the face of the thing, why does it have the huge protrusion on the back as though H.R. Giger had designed it? Problem number two: the patriotic New Yorkers. You know the scene during the final battle between Spidey and the Green Goblin when people start throwing shit off of the George Washington bridge at the Goblin while shouting things such as "Why you gonna attack a guy tryin' to save a bunch'a kids?" and "This is New York! You mess with one of us, you mess with all of us!"? I know that 9/11 was a tragedy, but was that really necessary? It's no secret that this scene's existence is directly related to the low number of World Trade Center towers at the time of the filming. This scene by no means ruins the movie for me, but come on...was this really necessary? In actuality, I'm just grasping at straws here because there's not much for me to dislike about the movie (although, let us not forget the cameo by Macy Gray...ugh). As such, how about I list off some more positives? Raimi rocked the damn house with this movie. Had anyone else gotten their grubby mitts on this film and it would have probably turned into a super-serious, gritty action movie. Raimi found a way to direct Spiderman so that even the brutal fight scenes seemed somehow light-hearted. The little quirks in his directing really brought a new level to the movie as well. Little sudden scares such as when Harry asks his father what had happened the night before in the lab and the inclusion of the trippy montage during Peter's transformation into Spiderman were all utilized perfectly. In my eyes Sam Raimi truly invented a new genre of film with Spiderman. While other movies like X-Men, Superman, or Batman may in fact be "super hero movies", Spiderman, under the watchful eye of Sam Raimi, truly became the first "comic book movie".
Spiderman 2 - It's been two years since the death of Ben Parker. Two years since Norman Osborn (aka the Green Goblin) accidentally killed himself while battling Spiderman. Two years since Norman's son Harry vowed to enact vengeance on Spiderman, whom he blames for his father's death. A lot can happen in two years. Peter has moved into New York City, attending college and continuing to take photographs of himself as Spiderman for J. Jonah Jameson (J.K. Simmons), the publisher of the Daily Bugle. Mary Jane has begun dating Jonah's astronaut son John Jameson (Daniel Gillies), and is performing the lead role in an off-Broadway play. On the surface things seem to be going alright, but Peter's life is in shambles. He spends all of his time protecting the streets of New York as Spiderman while the woman he loves is engaged to marry another man, his best friend blames his alter-ego for the death of his father, and he can hardly pay the rent. Not to mention, when Peter reveals to his Aunt May (who is being forced out of her home) that he is partially responsible for the death of his uncle and her husband, she becomes distant. With so much pressure mounting on Peter, he even begins to lose control of his super powers. Upon the suggestion of a friend, Peter gives up the mantle of Spiderman to live his own life and worry only about himself for once. Immediately things begin to look up. Peter's grades improve, his relationships with his friends, family, and Mary Jane improve, and best of all, he feels good about himself. Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end. One of Peter's idols, a scientist by the name of Otto Octavius (Alfred Molina), has designed four mechanical arms which fasten onto his back and tap into his brain in order to allow him to perform dangerous experiments with fusion reactions. When one of these tests goes wrong, the accident injures Octavius, melding the mechanical device permanently to his spine and destroying the computer chip that keeps it from influencing his mind. A broken man, Otto, under the control of the advanced artificial intelligence of his four mechanical extremities, vows to recreate his fusion experiment no matter what the cost. After an initial conflict with Spiderman, Otto (now dubbed Doctor Octopus by the Daily Bugle) must go to Harry Osborn to acquire a sample of trillium, the rare material that will allow him to complete his task. Harry agrees to provide Octavius with what he needs if he'll bring Spiderman to him alive, which is just what he does. However, when Spiderman (now revealed to his friend as Peter Parker) explains that the entire city is in danger if Doc Ock achieves his goal, Harry has no choice but to let Spiderman go to save the day. Come 2004, everyone knew that the first Spiderman film would be tough to top. In addition to that, just as Spiderman had to best X-Men, Spiderman 2 now had the unenviable task of standing up to X2. The perfect casting of Alfred Molina as the villainous Doctor Octopus put many people's minds at ease, but it wasn't until Spiderman 2 opened in theaters that the feelings became near-unanimous. Spiderman 2 is better than Spiderman. Spiderman masterfully told the origin of our hero and pitted him against perhaps his greatest foe, but Spiderman 2 stepped it up a notch. With the origin tale out of the way, Sam Raimi was free to run wild with Spiderman 2, and he did just that. The characterization in this film is incredible. Each and every actor is given massive amounts of room to stretch their muscles in developing their already beloved characters. With his son so prominently featured in the film as part of a love triangle with Mary Jane and Peter, J.K. Simmons stole every scene he was in as media mogul J. Jonah Jameson. His comedic timing matched with Raimi's eye for corn-ball humor struck a chord with just about everyone who saw the movie. The laughs don't stop there, though. Sam's light-hearted take on Peter's tortured soul results in multiple scenes where so many bad things pile up that they become that of comedy gold. Perhaps the best humor of the film, though, lies within the music montage scene set to the song "Raindrops Are Falling On My Head" in an obvious nod to the classic film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Comedy aside, Spiderman 2 also delivers action by the boatload. The first Spiderman film had a few memorable moments involving Spidey and his foe, but none of them come close to the bouts between he and Doctor Octopus. There are three fight scenes between these two over the course of the movie's two hours, and they're all outstanding. As much as X2 made up for the lack of proper fight scenes in the first film, Spiderman 2 triumphed in the super hero genre as far as fights were concerned. With the seamless combination of action, comedy, and drama becoming even stronger in the sequel than in the original, Spiderman 2 remains one of the best super hero movies of all time, as well as one of my personal favorite films of all time.
Spiderman 3 - Spiderman 3 begins much differently than it's predecessor. Peter Parker is living the life. He's dating the girl of his dreams, he's got a steady flow of cash from the Daily Bugle for his photographs of Spiderman, and he's continuing to do well in school. The only real problem is that his former best friend still wants him dead because he now knows that Peter and Spiderman (whom he blames for his father's death) are one and the same. However, this hardly seems noteworthy when the entire city of New York has fallen in love with Spiderman after he so selflessly risked his life to save them from doom at the hands of Doctor Octopus. Yet as I mentioned before, all good things must end. Caught up in his own fame and popularity as Spiderman, Peter becomes distant from Mary Jane, leading to their relationship making a decline. Harry has followed in his father's less-than-admirable footsteps and exposed himself to the serum that turned him into a murdering psychopath so that he may enact his revenge on Spiderman. A new photographer by the name of Eddie Brock (Topher Grace) has begun snapping photos of Spiderman for sale to the Daily Bugle, and is impeding on Peter's territory. Meanwhile, information has come to Peter's attention that links a criminal by the name of Flint Marko (Thomas Haden Church) to the death of his Uncle Ben. As chance would have it, while running from the police, Flint stumbled into the middle of a particle accelerator on the property of a restricted scientific research facility where his molecules were bonded with those of sand. Now known as the Sandman, Marko has the ability to turn into a being made of sand and morph his body into various shapes. But perhaps worst of all is the symbiote. After a meteorite carrying a black alien slime crashes in New York, the being bonds itself with Peter, becoming one with one of his Spiderman uniforms and turning it black. The symbiote, as Peter's friend and professor Curt Conners (Dylan Baker) reveals, feeds on emotions and makes them stronger. Due to Peter's anger regarding Flint Marko, the symbiote feeds on his emotions and brings out a bad side that Peter never knew he had. Over time he begins to ruin any relationships and progress he'd made with his friends and loved ones before realizing what was going on. After being humiliated by Peter while under the influence of the black costume, Eddie Brock stumbles into the church where Peter is trying to rid himself of the symbiote. When the alien being transfers itself from Parker to Brock, it's no surprise that Eddie's newfound hatred for Peter and the symbiote's current dislike for Spiderman would combine to create one angry individual known as Venom. Spiderman was a fantastic film. Spiderman 2 was even better. Why, then, should I have had any doubt that Spiderman 3 would be great as well? Perhaps because prior to it's official release, Spiderman 3 was bombarded by negative reviews from critics and fans alike. Word came down the grapevine that there were too many villains this time around (three as opposed to both of the previous films' one), not enough character development (due to the introduction of too many new characters), and a weak plot. Regardless of everything I'd heard I held my head high and went to see Spiderman 3 on it's opening night (May 4, 2007). I have only one question: Did everyone else see the same movie that I did? I thought Spiderman 3 was great. I wouldn't proclaim that it topped the second one the same way that it had the first, but it was still an excellent movie. I loved the plot, I loved the characters, and I loved the movie. That said, I have a few complaints. Portions of the film (primarily toward the beginning) seemed a bit rushed. Honestly, there was a lot of story to cram into this movie, which is why it clocked in a full twenty minutes longer than the previous two films at two hours and twenty minutes in length. Even so, I honestly believe that an extra ten minutes, resulting in a nice round two and a half hour length, would have allowed for the correction of the few scenes that I felt were slightly short-changed. I've heard some skepticism about Venom in the film. I loved the way he looked. Many people seem to disagree. What I didn't much care for was his voice. Whenever the symbiote was completely covering Eddie Brock's face, the character spoke much deeper, but the particular voice just didn't do it for me. It's also true that Venom doesn't appear until late in the movie, but this just gave Raimi more time to experiment with "anti-Peter" while he was under the influence of the black costume. Speaking of which, the scenes in which Peter displays his bad side are magnificent. Sam Raimi uses more quirky scenes like those utilized in Spiderman 2 (a la the "Raindrops Are Falling On My Head" scene) to really push the idea that Peter is a whole different person when he's wearing the symbiote. It wasn't all Raimi that made these scenes great, though. Tobey Maguire takes charge of these moments incredibly well. In addition to those scenes, he and Topher Grace really fought for the screen whenever they were together. They played off of each other wonderfully. Topher was a great addition to the cast. Along with him, though, we get Bryce Dallas Howard as Gwen Stacy, a love interest for Eddie and Peter alike. Howard is not only perfect in the role (which blew my mind as I initially thought she was the wrong choice for it), but is also much more beautiful than I've yet seen her onscreen. And let us not forget Thomas Haden Church. This man exhibits so much emotion in every scene that it's sometimes almost unbearable. He has this sad, tortured glare that never leaves his face and really pushes the admittedly simple/cliche story of a man forced into crime by the desire to save his daughter's life. Particularly compelling (although Church isn't actually in the scene) is the point at which Flint Marko first attempts to use his new abilities to reform his body into a human shape. I realize that the character was entirely CG in that scene, but it's heart-wrenching nonetheless. The ending, which I won't give away here, is something else that I hear getting a lot of flak from critics (professional or otherwise), but everything taken into account, I think the ending does it's job quite nicely in tying up the film in a nice little package. So in closing, Spiderman 3 is not the best of the series, but it certainly fits right in with the first two to create one of the best trilogies in existence today...in my opinion, of course.