Re-evaluating Raimi’s Spider-man movies


JD of the General Geekery Cast here!  Been awhile since I wrote anything for this site.  But this was groundbreaking enough I had to.

I’ve made no bones about not being a fan of Sam Raimi’s Spider-man trilogy. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I was a “hater” but I definitely had strong disapproval. Part of that had to do with the fact that I wasn’t a fan of Spidey as a hero or character, part of it due to loathing most of cast playing the main roles, and mostly the time since the release of the 3 films had really cemented my negative feelings in retrospect.

Spider-Man (2002)

But over the weekend I decided to shut up and give them another look… my 4-year-old son is a Spidey fanatic and his childlike fascination made me appreciate Spider-Man in a way I never had. Plus I treated myself to things like season 1 of the Spectacular toon which rocked and some of the comic stories written so beautifully by Dan Slott. But still, the mood to watch the first one came out of nowhere on Friday but there it was. So my fiancée and I popped the DVD in for 2002’s SPIDER-MAN starring Toby, Kirsten, Willam, JK, Rosemary, and I can’t recall the name of the actor who played Uncle Ben so masterfully. I remembered after I saw it in the theater I found it okay, just okay. This time I had a wide open mind as we watched. Now a decade later, guess what? I liked it.  J.K. Simmons is still perfect as J. Jonah Jamison, Rosemary Harris is still wonderful as Aunt May, what’s his name was amazing as Ben Parker, and the CGI animation of Spidey web-swinging around NYC is still mighty impressive. There are still things to nitpick about the movie but time heals a lot of wounds and I had a small list of annoyances this time: Kirsten Dunst is still goddamn awful and Willem Dafoe is still as fuck-ugly and over-the-top in his ridiculous portrayal of Norman Osborn as I originally thought.  But here’s a list of things I didn’t hate this time: Toby Maguire actually is good as Parker, the Goblin costume is actually cooler than I used to think of it, and the pace of the film was actually damn GREAT. It truly is a solid movie about an accidental making of a superhero.

Spider-Man 2 (2004)

So after watching and actually enjoying the first movie, we followed up with 2004’s SPIDER-MAN 2 on Saturday. The sequel has often been touted by fanboys as one of the best superhero movies of the time (at least before Iron Man and Dark Knight), or it’s been touted as the very best of Raimi’s Spider-man trilogy, or at the very least it’s touted as just plain awesome. Personally, I had only seen it once, it was on DVD in 2005 and I was bored by it. Shit like Parker constantly taking off the mask and more of Kirsten Dunst’s drippy face and drippy acting colored my opinions to be negative beyond just the boredom. But this time? I liked it too. Yes Kirsten Dunst was still wretched… but otherwise SPIDER-MAN 2 was a GREAT superhero movie! It was cool how many things from the Spidey comics of the past it paid tribute to like “Spider-man no more” and a huge plus was Doc Ock not being treated like a joke of a character. In fact Alfred Molina was simply STELLAR as Doctor Octavius and the robotic arms were totally convincing as a believable live-action element. The character was truly a sympathetic villain. The CGI effects were just as technically solid as those in the first film. And finally the reasons for Parker to take off the mask repeatedly actually made sense within the plot! I cannot and will not ever rant about that again LOL. And the running joke of the landlord seeking the rent made Pete’s everyday life feel genuine, and not comic booky.

Spider-Man 3 (2007)

Well, having enjoyed the first and second movies…. on Sunday it was time to face down 2007’s SPIDER-MAN 3 again. Yeah okay so I vowed in ’07 to never watch it again after being sickened and pissed off by it after watching that abomination in the theater. It was utter shit then but, hey, again time heals some injuries. So while my mind was open to it to actually sucking less now in 2012, I still didn’t expect much. But I had to complete the rewatch of the trilogy so I did. Aaaaand it turns out the third part of the trilogy and last of the Raimi movies IS REALLY NOT SO BAD.

I’ll give readers a moment to recover from that.

Anyways, here’s quick thoughts. Does the film spend way too much time Parker and MJ’s relationship? Yes, all that shit drags on and on in many scenes. The late-to-the-party addition of Gwen Stacey was unnecessary as a foil/love triangle catalyst. Is K-Dunst as bad as MJ as she was in the previous two? Oh yes, and her “singing” made it even worse. She is just shit. She was always the wrong actress for that part. Is the dancing Toby as stupid and out-of-place as it felt before? Yup, it was still unnecessary and lame. But he DOES NOT act as emo annoying as I thought before. Does the retcon of who actually killed Ben Parker work? It sure does, it almost felt like it was always meant that way from the outset. All around I think the Sandman’s role was damn good and Lowell Mather (Thomas Haden Church) rocked it. Finally, is it obvious Venom was shoe-horned into the plot due to Marvel’s demand? Only kinda… Watching it this time, I think the Brock/Venom addition actually seemed like a more natural/organic addition than I remembered. Any MORE Venom screen-time would have been overkill (I really think what they did with him was exactly as much as they needed to. And it turns out Eric Foreman [Topher Grace] made a better Edward Brock, Jr. than he’s ever been given credit for. And I thought it was a nice touch that the landlord from part 2 was brought back for part 3 because it further reinforced this cinema world to seem real. It’s things like that running throughout the trilogy that makes the individual movies feel tightly bound and necessary for the overall saga to feel complete, it gave me a nice sense of the superhero’s life as his alter ego geek living his real life as a “normal” person.

So in summary, now I finally see why the Raimi Spider-man movies have such a loyal following. And I urge the fans give part 3 another chance because it really doesn’t suck as bad as the internet thinks it does.

I used to welcome the reboot that is this year’s AMAZING SPIDER-MAN. Now I’m kind of annoyed about it. I wonder how Sam Raimi would have used Mysterio……..

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JD is a contributor to ColdSlitherPodcast.com. He is also the co-host of the General Geekery Cast, a show for geeks by geeks. JD is also an aficionado of GI Joe toys and creates some kick-ass custom action figures. Follow JD on twitter at @NFCJD.

6 Comments Add yours

  1. speakillkid says:

    3 does suck, I’m not going to get into too much detail, just three words to sum up one the biggest flaws of Spider-Man 3, ready? The Butler’s reveal.

    1. Yeah, when did Bernard become Alfred Pennyworth? And he tends to fatal wounds? Wow, so he’s a CSI too? FOH!!

  2. I just revisited Spider-Man 2 this week after Seeing TASM, and I was pleasantly surprised. I hadn’t seen it since it was in the theaters, and it held up really well. Dock Ock was awesome, and Peter Parker’s story arc was better than most superhero movies, especially sequels.

  3. Tom Ebbs says:

    Wow seven Whole Paragraphs on this subject…I’m fascinated on how anyone has the time for this kind of crap anymore, I just always thought the fact that uncle Ben kept trying to manipulate Peter through Use of Guilt tripping and giving him advice Peter already had accumulated as a character before he had Ben as an Uncle figure trying to lead Peter down a route of righteousness was a bit of a carry on, it even got Michael Sheen into the same gimmick as Cliff Robertson, the two Ben’s were very Alike, I still would like to see the Spiderverse somehow have a tiny place in development on the next movie, Spiderman Homecoming, I’m curious how to get some kind of casting as a single white red haired guy who lives at home with his parents with two brothers….oh, and I’m British, shotgun Captain Britain Spiderman on next Project led by 21st Century Fox.

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