The biggest movie of 2002 swings its way onto DVD. “Spider-Man” broke records at the box office, and broke more records upon its debut on DVD. The live-action version of the comic book classic, “Spider-Man” faithfully adapts its source material in an entertaining way.

Paul Wong
Courtesy of Columbia

“Spider-Man” is the story of the nerdy Peter Parker and what happens after he is bitten by a genetically altered spider. Peter is in love with Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst, “Bring it On”), but she is always in love with someone else. He learns a valuable lesson from the murder of his Uncle Ben, “with great power comes great responsibility.” Using this mantra, Peter takes up life as a super hero to best utilize his talents. However, his best friend Harry’s (James Franco, “City By the Sea”) father Norman Osborn (Willem Dafoe, “Shadow of the Vampire”) tests an experimental procedure on himself and becomes the super villain the Green Goblin. The Green Goblin is out to destroy all of Norman Osborn’s enemies and ends up trying to destroy Parker because of Spider-Man’s interference.

Director Sam Raimi’s ability to keep the nuances that make the character of Peter Parker/Spider-Man and the world around him brings the comic to life. Raimi made a controversial choice in Tobey Maguire (“Cider House Rules”) to play the title role, which helped make Parker to be more believable. Maguire fits the Parker role perfectly, but there is a notable dearth of classic Spider-Man quips. However, the characterization of Norman Osborn leads a lot to be desired. Dafoe is a talented actor, but the Green Goblin has no motivation and he comes across as too comical. The most true to source character is J. Jonah Jameson, Peter’s boss at the “Daily Bugle.” Jameson offers the film’s funniest moments and shows his antagonistic nature towards Spider-Man and his disgruntled persona.

“Spider-Man” provides two DVD’s filled with the usual extras. Disc one offers director and cast commentary (unfortunately missing Maguire and Dafoe), and a SFX commentary from John Dykstra. Both offer interesting insights into the two areas of the film. An innovative feature used is the “Weaving the Web” subtitles that act like a sort of “Pop Up Video” during the movie showing interesting tidbits. The DVD has the usual TV spots and trailers, but fails to include the original teaser that was pulled due to it using the World Trade Center in an integral role. It also has the Sum 41 and Chad Kroeger videos in their entireties. Disc two has screen tests and gag reels, but neglects having deleted scenes. The DVD extras also include comic book sections that show past covers and character galleries to introduce the source material to the new audience of the film. It has the HBO and E! specials on the making of the movie and features a really interesting profile on director Raimi. This really is the gem of the extra features as it shows Raimi’s enthusiasm and dedication to the film.

“Spider-Man” was so successful in theaters for a reason, and the DVD exemplifies the reasons why audiences embraced the film. The action still has a little too much CGI, but it is exciting and new nonetheless. And the main story shows some great moments from Spider-Man’s comic book roots and captures the feel as well. Raimi and company should be commended for doing such a good job of enabling “Spider-Man” to be entertaining to fans and non-fans of the comic.

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