May 5th, 2007

Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

2002 Spider-Man

One of the things that bugged me when I first saw
the trailer for "Spider-man" was the fakery of the
computerized special effects. When the trailer
featured Spidey ensnaring some crooks in a helicopter
between the Twin Towers, I really thought the movie
was doomed after September 11th. As the record
breaking box office has revealed, this 40 year old
comic book super hero has proven resilient.

"Spider-man" is a good movie with a balance between
intellectual depth and an empathetic heart. The film
presents the double edged sword of heroism that owes
much to the mythic choices of Perseus and Ulysses. Yet
there is emotional core that will interest non comic
book fans.

Tobey Maguire brings a familiar sincerity
to Spider-man that Christopher Reeve utilized so well
as Superman. Maguire is especially convincing as he
makes the transition from a wide eyed innocent to a
strong man with a burden. Wilem Dafoe portrays a
respected science researcher who becomes a villian.
Having much experience in these types of roles, Dafoe
masters the fine line between sympathy and menace.
Cliff Robertson has a small but pivotal role as Uncle
Ben, Spider-man's surrogate father confessor.

The plot explains the origins of Spider-man, alias Peter
Parker. Peter is a high school senior who gets bitten
by a mutant spider while on a field trip. While
retaining human form, Peter develops the traits of a
spider. At first Peter utilizes his superpowers for
minor teenage motives. However when tragedy and
villainy rears it's ugly head, Peter learns a valuable
lesson that with great power, comes greater

"Spider-Man" includes some well
directed action sequences. Unlike the overabundance of
sword play from the climax of "The Scorpion King," the
action sequences of "Spider-Man" is easy to follow.
However, it would be original if a comic book movie's
showdown could be conceived in daylight, instead of at

That is a minor trifle because "Spider-man" has
much going for it. Multiple vie wings may reveal a
hidden cameo. Youth Services Librarian David Serchay
revealed to me that Spidey's creator, Stan Lee has a
cameo. Director Sam Raimi obviously made "Spiderman" a
labor of love and fortunately he is returning to helm
the next "Spiderman" sequel with Maguire. As long as
these creators balance the head and the heart of this
comic book creation, "Spiderman" will have a long life
as a franchise.
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

2004 "Spider-Man 2"

"Spider-Man 2" takes up were the original
"Spider-Man" movie left off two years ago.
Spider-Man, alias Peter Parker (Tobey McGuire), is
still foiling the criminals and thugs of New York
City. His unrequited love, Mary Jane Watson (Kristen
Dunst) and best friend, Harry (James Franco), have
progressed with their lives. Harry sits on the board
of directors for his father's company, Oscorp, while
Mary Jane has become an actress on Broadway performing
Oscar Wilde.

While celebrating another birthday with his friends
and Aunt May (Rosemary Harris), Peter becomes
depressed. Despite all of his heroics as the
Spider-Man, Peter Parker has nothing to show for his
success. Peter is a failure on the job as a pizza
delivery boy, he is failing in college and his
superiors think he is lazy. Things go from bad to
worse for Peter when his arachnid powers fail him.

Thanks to the influence of Dr. Connors (Dylan Baker),
Peter is able to met Dr. Otto Octavius (Alfred
Molina), a scientific genius in the field of fusion.
Peter and Octavius develop a mentor/prodigy
relationship, which is destroyed when a scientific
experiment goes out of control. Octavius loses his
wife and becomes a freak of mechanical nature when 6
metallic arms are fused into his spine. Losing his
identity to his mechanical claws, the kindly Professor
Octavius becomes the monstrous Doctor Octopus.

"Spider-Man 2" is a case study of abnormal
psychology. This new film is motivated by human
nature, not by a villain seeking world domination in a
unique way. While most of the action sequences are
worthy of the visualization of a comic book, it is
Peter's confessionals to Aunt May and Mary Jane that
forms the most emotional moments in the movie.
Spidey's impotent actions are more of a psychological
block than any physical ailment.

The heart of this motion picture comes form a labor of
love from the cast, crew and Marvel Comics.
Spider-Man creator Stan Lee saves another child from
falling debris in an effective cameo. Sam Raimi
regular, Bruce Campbell, portrays a snobby theater
usher that may be the same character from the first
movie. Willem Dafoe and Cliff Robertson return from
the dead in two effective cameo appearances that
represent the Tao of parenthood. Tobey McGuire,
Kristen Dunst and James Franco create an empathic love
triangle based on friendship and envy.

Both "Spider-Man" movies have three battles between
Spidey and his antagonists. The best fight in the new
movie features Doc Ock on a tower with Aunt May in his
clutches. The most disappointing battle is the
climatic nighttime show down that deals more with
character meltdown than any war of the wills between
the protagonists.

From the Spider-Manaholics to the comic book layman on
the street, "Spider-Man 2" succeeds as first rate
entertainment. Director Sam Raimi adds just enough
details to keep the comic book scholars guessing as to
the fate of "Spider-Man 3," due in 2007. A.D.

While this film is not as good as the predecessor,
"Spider-Man 2" is one of the best movies for the
summer of 2004.
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

2007 "Spider-Man" should not conclude the franchise

“Spider-Man 3“ is the concluding chapter of Marvel comic’s web swinging trilogy that began five summers ago. Most of the cast and crew have returned to the franchise except one notable exception, John Dykstra, the special effects supervisor. Thus “Spider-Man 3” feels like a thread is missing and the whole franchise might collapse within itself.

The main problem with “Spider-Man 3“ is that it suffers from a meandering plot. The three leading characters from the first film (Peter Parker (Toby McGuire), Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst), Harry Osborn (James Franco), must complete their motivational story arc. The new movie also introduces Flint Marco (Thomas Haden Church and who is destined to become “The Sandman”) and Eddie Brock, a rival journalist at the Dailey Bugle. Even Mary Jane Watson is given her own rival in the guise of Gwen Stacey (Bryce Dallas Howard), who is the opposite of everything Mary Jane.

To director Sam Raimi’s credit, many of the minor characters from “Spider-Man” and “Spider-Man 2” are given moments to shine. J.K. Simmons returns as the Dailey Bugle editor in chief, Dylan Baker as Professor Connors mentors Peter Parker on the elements of genetic science. Even Spider-Man’s creator is allowed to utter one line of dialogue. “Spider-Man 3” is not a bad movie and film makers intentions are good. “Spider-Man 3” is simply a victim of its earlier success.

The new film opens with Spidey on the top of the world. Crime in New York City is down, Peter Parker is making good grades in school and the girl of his dreams will be performing on Broadway. Peter and Mary Jane spend a wonderful romantic evening together watching a meteor shower when everything starts to go wrong.

Harry Osborn wrongly blames Peter for killing his father and vows revenge. Mary Jane loses her job and becomes jealous of her boyfriend’s popularity. Things go from bad to worst when Flint Marko escapes from jail. Peter Parker and his Aunt May (Rosemary Harris) learn Marko was involved with the murder of Ben Parker (Cliff Robertson). This revelation inspires Peter Parker to seek revenge upon Flint Marko through any means possible.

“Spider-Man 3” investigates Peter Parker's darker psyche. Peter becomes so cocksure of himself that he becomes a leisure suit Larry from Studio 54. The transformation is both comical and ugly. It is Mary Jane who receives the brunt of Peter's cruel behavior. The film falters into soap opera territory as Peter, Mary Jane and Harry resolve their love triangle.

“Spider-Man 3” has a good ending and resolve major plot points from the previous movies. While the film is a disappointment, there is still some life in the franchise. Like “Rocky Balboa,” “Spider-Man” franchise deserves to go out on a nigh note. It would be interesting to see the Shea Stadium Marriage between Peter and Mary Jane in “Spider-Man 4.”