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PLENTY HAS been said and written about Spider Man, the blockbuster, which has raked in $223 millions within ten days of its release in the U. S. This only goes to show that despite the emphasis on realism, fantasy and that too one featuring a hero is still what drives people to cinema halls. With crime reports making headlines, undoubtedly a hero of this nature — who can swing, fly and crawl up skyscrapers and rescue people from fire, and other hazards man made or otherwise — is the need of the hour. There is not much of a story (screen play-David Koepp) except that the film shows how student Peter Parker - a bit of a nerd, constantly broke, quite the outsider with none even wanting to be with him, in love with Mary Jane (Kirsten Dunst) but never quite getting her. He is transformed when he is stung by a genetically altered spider, which gives him super human strength along with the very qualities of a spider.

So what does he do with his newly found power? First of course he uses it to his advantage, even makes some money. But when his beloved Uncle Ben dies telling him that ``with great power comes greater responsibility'' he knows that he has to use it to fight crime and help innocent people. But then, apart from the calamities such as robberies that infest our world, he also has to contend with Norman Osborn (William Defoe) his best friend Harry's father.

Norman is the head of a big organisation dealing with research and faces the risk of losing everything if he cannot counter those who wish to see the back of him. He puts himself through an experiment, which gives him immense power but also makes him do despicable acts including murdering members of his board. He turns into the Green Goblin, who is out to destroy everything that stands in his way. Naturally, Spider Man is the primary target. It is not difficult to guess who triumphs. And if the ending seems a bit trite one can take comfort in the fact that he is around for the good of the world.

Undeniably the special effects and photography (Don Burgess) are what make this film more glitzy than beautiful. A whole new look has been given to New York City that is the focus of so many films in the tones and textures. Shot at hours where light bounces off glass panes of buildings, it creates a very old world look for the age-old character to weave his web. The audiences get to see Manhattan, almost at sky level and the former Boeing plant in Downey, California, is one of the sets used for the Times Square sequence where the World Unity Festival is the forum for the surprise appearance of the Green Goblin. And since much of the action takes place in air, it was apparently very scary and difficult to shoot considering the uncertain weather and wind conditions.

The filmmakers collaborated with Sony Pictures Image works using a technique called photogrammetry where wire frame animated portions of New York were created. They were then photographed in varying degrees of detail. These photographs were then added to the animations to create the moving background using the computer. The director Sam Raimi had to see several species to get the spider, which eventually bites Peter. Tobey plays the part competently, in parts more effective than others. Of course all that one can make out is a flying figure and someone who gets really beaten up often by the Green Goblin everything requiring guts rather than histrionics! William Dafoe as the mad businessman is actually effective. His lean and mean looks are pretty much in line with the character.

At the end of it all, it is a film that you can enjoy in summer with a bag of popcorn in your hand. You can go home without having wasted too much of your emotions.


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