Director Sam Raimi (Evil Dead
, A Simple Plan
) delivers the year’s breeziest “popcorn” movie: an adaptation of the Marvel Comics superhero adventures that effectively takes time between exhilarating digital effects to develop character and motivation. Peter Parker (Wonder Boys’
Tobey Maguire) is a bashful teen science nerd who is bullied at school and yearns to date the girl next door (Kirsten Dunst). He gets bitten by a genetically altered spider, develops arachnid-like powers, and becomes a New York crime stopper after experiencing personal tragedy. The script by David Koepp (Panic Room
, Stir of Echoes
) fits Maguire like a snug bodysuit as he saturates his role of web-wielding Manhattan savior with an infectious sense of humanity. Willem Dafoe co-stars as the tech-industry tycoon who is transformed into the Green Goblin, Parker’s wily nemesis.