Tobey Maguire takes on the role of Marvel Comics’ web-slinging hero in the latest version of SPIDER-MAN. Kirsten Dunst plays Mary Jane Watson or M J, the girl next-door that Spiderman’s alter-ego, Peter Parker, falls for. Following the storyline created by Marvel Comics close enough to please most fans, the film starts with brainy Peter Parker on a high school senior field trip to Columbia University’s science labs. The lab is combining DNA strands of different spiders to create a super-spider. But one of the genetically-enhanced creatures gets loose and bites Peter, transferring some active DNA material into Peter’s blood. Pretty soon, Peter discovers he’s put on some muscle and can throw away his glasses. He can even climb walls and feel when something’s about to happen. But strangest of all, he can shoot webs out of his wrists strong enough to hold people. Trying to earn money, he enters a wrestling match as the Human Spider, but the ringmaster calls him the Amazing Spider-man. Easily winning the match, Peter gets cheated out of his winnings, so he’s not in any hurry to help stop a box office thief. But when his uncle is killed, Peter puts his new powers to the test and catches up with the killer. Soon, the friendly neighborhood Spider-man is swinging around New York stopping crimes. Meanwhile, rich industrialist Norman Osborn (Willem Dafoe) is working on a performance enhancer for the military, along with armor and a one-man armed glider for the battlefield. But Norman tests the enhancer on himself, ignoring his researcher’s warning that one test rat went insane. After the green gas disappears, Norman discovers he has a dual personality and his other side murderously does away with competition. With the armor and glider, Norman begins to terrorize the city as the Green Goblin. The only thing standing between the Goblin and the city is Spider-man. Action fans will enjoy the rescues and battles as Spider-rman struggles with the Goblin, as well as dealing with the everyday problems of earning a living.
Although the scene is often filled with fighting, most of the violence is neither graphic nor gory. However, a few moments in the climatic battle may be more graphic than necessary as Spiderman takes a brutal beating. There are two uses of “Jesus” as an exclamation, and several mild obscenities and those do prevent Dove from approving this film. We also note that there are a few brief moments of graphic violence and impolite language. And the message that “with great power comes great responsibility” could apply to all of us. The profanities create a web of conflict in detracting from what was otherwise a wonderful film.