The hype is great, the movie is OK. Tobey Maguire stars as nerdy high school senior Peter Parker, who is bitten by a genetically altered spider and gains certain spidery skills, like the ability to climb walls and secrete silk. Maguire is an interesting choice -- a sweet, stone-faced hero who looks bemused rather than courageous -- but that's fine because Spider-Man is one of Marvel Comics' less macho creations. Willem Dafoe as Spidey's nemesis, the Green Goblin, is the movie's weak link. His dialogue is especially cartoonish, and the designer has made the mistake of giving him a huge chisel-like helmet that covers his face, so when the Green Goblin and the already fully masked Spider-Man go head-to-head there's only plastic and cloth, no facial expressions. The special effects are neat, capturing a certain saturated, comic-book quality, and when Spidey gets in full web swing you can almost feel the cityscape whipping by. It's 20 minutes too long, and Raimi should have tightened the film's flabby third act. 121 minutes.
SPIDER-MAN (Sam Raimi) Rating: NNN