Charlotte Gray

Tobey Maguire, Willem Dafoe.
Directed by Sam Raimi.
Running Time: 121 mins
Rated: PG
Don't be late for Spiderman. The opening sequence is very important to this film. It involves quick cutting between stills of the cartoon strips which come to life. Spiderman is very faithful to the style of the newspaper hero.

Peter Parker (Maguire) is a nerdy, high school lover of science. On a field trip to a bug laboratory he is bitten by a genetically modified spider and, later, turns into our action hero. Initially he only wants to use his new powers to impress Mary Jane (Kirsten Dunst), his next door neighbour and would-be girlfriend. He soon discovers, however, that Norman Osborn (Willem Dafoe), his best friend's father, is able to turn himself into the Green Goblin and threatens the safety of New York City. Spiderman must save the day.

If you remember this character from the comic strips you will love this film. Given that it's set in New York City under attack, it is has an innocence to which we might like to return. The story is basic, the characterisations limited and the narrative thread leads inexorably to
Spiderman II, III and even IV.

Tobey Maguire was born to play this role with just the right balance of naivety and cunning. Willem Dafoe is too overdrawn, pardon the pun, as the Green Goblin, but I'm not sure how else such a cartoon character could be.

Spiderman is fun and the special effects are very fine indeed. Spiderman leaps around Manhattan like a fly at a picnic.

There are only two things of which to be aware. Spiderman is too long. We get the story fifteen minutes in and all the special effects in the world can't make the plot interesting for two hours. Even the children will be restless. The simulated violence is strong in parts and so the film's classification is well heeded by parents with young children.

If you need a matinee film with the kids during the holidays then swing into Spiderman soon.

Richard Leonard SJ

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