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Length:2h 1min
Cast:Sam Raimi, Tobey Maguire, Willem Dafoe, Kirsten Dunst

Certainly the most popular comic-book superhero created during the baby-boom years, the amazing Spider-Man makes an impressive live-action debut in director Sam Raimi's colorful and dynamic adventure film. Best of all, this extravagantly produced tribute to the character created in 1962 by Marvel Comics' Stan Lee and Steve Ditko is refreshingly free of the condescension and campiness that mars so many movies adapted from comics. Tobey Maguire, whose screen persona is that of a mild-mannered, perceptive young man, is perfectly cast as Peter Parker, the socially maladroit high school student who develops strange powers after being bitten by a genetically altered super-spider. Winsome Kirsten Dunst plays Mary Jane, the popular girl whom he secretly loves, even though she's dating his best friend, Harry (James Franco). Willem Dafoe all but steals the show with his bombastic portrayal of Spider-Man's archenemy, the grotesquely costumed Green Goblin -- the genetically altered alter ego of Harry's troubled father. While taking minor liberties with the character's origin, Spider-Man remains remarkably faithful to both the spirit and the letter of Marvel's four-color favorite. Flamboyant stunt work and computer-generated special effects lend credibility to the film's elaborate fight scenes, but Raimi never loses sight of the human element, the fact that his young protagonist feels burdened by the awesome powers bestowed upon him. Maguire's likability makes his Peter Parker a figure with whom audiences can empathize, no matter how outlandish his feats while garbed as the web-crawling superhero. A perfect popcorn movie, Spider-Man will delight adventure-loving viewers of all ages. The two-disc DVD Special Edition features a cornucopia of supplemental features, including: commentaries by Raimi, Dunst, and other members of the production team; an HBO "making-of" special; the E! Entertainment documentary "Spider-Mania"; screen tests; outtakes; DVD-ROM content; and much more. Ed Hulse

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