This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Katy’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
I had no idea Holland's third Spider-Man movie was coming out this December....so I can't explain the amount of relief I feel knowing that I accidentally started a marathon just because I haven't seen most of these yet.
By going back to the beginning, it's kind of a shame that generations of kids might never know the true excitement of seeing superhero movie like this - when the genre was so fresh and wasn't over-saturated. Wonder Woman, Black Panther and Avengers: Endgame might be the closest examples, but with the normalization of superheros being released every month, we've gotten to a point where we can just change the people on the poster and kinda know what to expect (OMG, I'm starting to sound like Marty Scorsese???). My parents had Christopher Reeve's Superman, but when I was a kid, we had 17 divisive/bad Batman movies and X-Men movies that mostly attracted the comic book crowd. Bringing Spider-Man into the fold was a way to bring everyone into the theater. And, it worked. We didn't just see this once, everyone I knew saw this like five times. And watching it again, it honestly still holds up as much as it did when I was 11.
I went into this prepared for an over-the-top cheesiness that would make it 'so bad it's good'. Again, I had no idea that this raked in 90% on Rotten Tomatoes. By today's standards, it's still worth that rating. While there is a sprinkle of hamminess here and there, it doesn't take away from Sam Raimi's direction and control to make Peter Parker's arc feel wholly original, balanced with humor, action, and romance. Accidentally aiding in Uncle Ben's death, needing to protect Aunt May, finding out he's fighting his friend's dad, having to give up a future with MJ to protect her, etc. all adds to Peter's arc of going from the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man to 'I can't fuck this up' Spider-Man. It honestly feels like 3 movies in one. Tobey Maguire is a little wooden, but similar to Daniel Radcliffe's Harry Potter in Sorcerer's Stone, it adds to his naivety and has room to gradually shoulder more weight to his performance by the end. Even Willem Dafoe's meme face tries its damn hardest to make Norman split between his personalities that he comes across like a tangible villain, especially when Peter realizes who he's fighting. The overall ensemble works well together, and had a surprising amount of "cameos" I never would've guessed - Bruce Campbell, Octavia Spencer, Elizabeth Banks, Bill Nunn.
Similar to how John Wick stands out in the action genre, the setting here feels realistic with practical effects mixed in with CGI. I really feel like I'm in Manhattan and can walk straight into The Daily Bugle. This helps the most with the fight scenes - there's a real weight to the 3rd act where Peter gets pummeled to a pulp, to the point where you think he might not survive. Marvel can have eight movies about the same character, and their arcs still don't feel as fulfilling as half of Peter's costume exploding off his face and splitting his appearance between his alter egos (I love Steve Rogers and got my happy ending, but there will also be a part of me that wants so much more). There is honestly not one thing that feels forced or out of place (except James Franco), not the straight-out-of-the-comic-book casting or the iconic upside down kiss in the rain. All of this is to say that Spider-Man is still super solid...even with that Nickelback song during the end credits.
I'm now officially scared to watch Spider-Man 2.