May 4, 2002 
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Spinning a good web
Spider-Man lives up to expectations

Arthur J Pais

Fans of Spider-Man -- the half man, half spider hero of Marvel comics -- have waited for four decades for the screen version of their beloved adventure.

But the die-hard fans are not only ones who are packing the movie houses across North America. There are also cinegoers who are looking for great entertainment in the $120 million screen version of Spider-Man.

They may not know anything about the comic book exploits of Spider-Man but they are lining up to see what could become one of the biggest hits of all times. The film is showing on more than 4,000 screens across America. Handful of movie houses have shown it for 24 hours starting Friday morning. Tobey Maguire as Spider-Man

In two weeks, Spider-Man will be challenged by Attack Of The Clones, the new film in the Star Wars saga. There are intense speculations as to which film will earn more money. Seasoned Hollywood observers bet both films will earn at least $300 million. Will any reach the $400 million benchmark?

Director Sam Raimi should be given credit for resisting the suggestions he cast a star in the title role. He opted for Tobey Maguire, seen in hits like The Cider House Rules, and managed to wring an endearing performance.

Maguire has now become a major star. He marvelously conveys vulnerability, strength and determination. He is also amusing and touching.

It is not just Maguire you fall in love with. The film has wonderful special-effects, especially when Spider-Man beats up a burly pro wrestler. Watch our hero gracefully bounce from one New York skyscraper to skyscraper rescuing victims.

And yet with all the dazzling special effects, eye-popping art work and make-up, sonorous music and relentless energy, the best thing you remember of this behemoth of a film is Maguire. And to some extent, Kirsten Dunst, who realises before too late that Spider-Man has had a crush on her for a long time.

This is the story of Peter Parker, a student living with his Aunt May and Uncle Ben since his parents died when he was very young. He's a serious student whose social life is a mess --- and who seems to have a great knack for bad luck. A freak accident grants him incredible spider-like abilities. In fact, he becomes the amazing Spider-Man.

Toby Maguire as Spider-Man While he is musing about using his newly found gift to make big money, he learns Uncle Ben (Cliff Robertson) is killed in a carjacking, He then remembers anew his uncle’s admonition: 'With great power comes great responsibility'.

Peter -- aka Spider-Man – decides to fight criminals and avenge his uncle's death. Perhaps he can also help others who cannot find justice easily. Perhaps he can also rescue a few people.

Complications follow when Peter’s schooldays friend Harry falls in love with Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst). But Harry has problems of his own: His eccentric, brilliant and rich father Norman Osborn (Willem Dafoe) wants to control Harry’s life Things become even more complicated as Osborn is turned into a hideous villain.

A freak accident has turned Peter into a benevolent crime fighter. But another accident has turned Osborn into a mean and blood-sucking freak man. Their confrontation has many hair raising moments.

With the rousing, charming and often hilarious Spider-Man, the summer has started. If the rest of the big films are just half as entertaining as this one.


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