Spiderman directed by Sam Raimi ISBN: 0767898729
Plot Summary: Peter Parker lives with his aunt and uncle, has a crush on the girl next door, Mary Jane, and gets picked on my bullies. When on a classroom visit to a science lab, Peter is bitten by a rare spider and suddenly he has super strength, can shoot webs out of his wrists and stick to surfaces…just like a spider. At first, he looks at this as a way to make more money. But when his uncle is killed by the man Peter inadvertently helped, Peter knows his life has to change. He starts patrolling the streets of New York and helping the cops catch the bad guys. A lot of people appreciate his presence. But some see him as a threat, like J. Jonah Jameson, the head of the newspaper Daily Bugle. Or Norman Osborne, Harry’s best friend’s father. When Norman’s big contract with the government falls through, something cracks in him, and he is determined to get his revenge. As if that wasn’t enough, Mary Jane is finally starting to pay attention to Peter, and he has to help out his aunt so she can keep up with mortgage payments. With all the things he has to pay attention to, something’s bound to slip through the cracks.
Critical Evaluation: From what I have heard, this plot does not follow the comic books storyline very closely. That being said, it is still an entertaining movie to watch. I particularly like to see the struggles that superheroes have. Iron Man has a drinking and womanizing problem. The Hulk can’t control his anger and occasionally hurts the ones he cares about. Batman is crippled by his grief for his parents and dependent on gadgets to fight crime, which sometimes backfire on him.
For Spiderman, he feels responsible for his uncle’s death, and is reminded frequently of his uncle’s words, “With great power comes great responsibility.” As far as I can tell from this movie, one of his initial struggles is with understanding his powers. They come on rather suddenly and he takes some time to discover what he is capable of and honing these skills. His other, more lingering struggle is with his desire to be dependable in other areas of his life. He wants to be available for his aunt, for Mary Jane, for his studies, but keeps getting caught up in crime fighting. And he feels incapable of giving it up, partly because of his uncle, but partly because the people he cares about keep getting dragged into situations. Mary Jane is a frequent target, but Peter’s aunt is also involved at one point. The movie focuses more on his struggle with his aunt, Mary Jane, and financially. In later movies in the series, we see Peter falling behind on schoolwork, and frequently missing social engagements.
As this is the first movie in the series, a fair amount of time is spent building up the storyline, which means that the action takes a back burner. This is a frequent problem in superhero movies, but in series, some of these issues are cleared up after the first movie. While the beginning moves a little slower, I enjoy the whole movie, and feel that there is enough action in the beginning to carry excitement throughout the movie.
Reader’s Annotation: Mugger’s got your purse, or madman dangling a bus off a bridge? Not to worry; your friendly neighborhood Spiderman is here!
Information about the author: Sam Raimi was born in 1959 in Royal Oak, Michigan. He has been a fan of the cinema his whole life and made movies as a child with an 8mm camera. He attended Michigan State University in Lansing, Michigan and studied English.
His first film to garner the general public’s attention was “The Evil Dead.” He has since made movies in a variety of genres, and is praised for his strong visual style. He is married and has five children.
Genre: Superhero movie
Curriculum ties, if any: The sections about spiders could be interesting to compare to actual facts about spiders.
Booktalking Ideas: This movie was fairly popular on its own, but if I was suggesting it to teens, first I would ask teens what kind of a superhero power they would want. Then I would relate it back to the comic books it was based on, and appeal to teens’ interest in superheroes.
Reading Level/Interest Age: Peter Parker is a high school student and at least a sophomore since he wants to buy a car in the movie. The movies do have some violence, but generally appeal to a wide age range including older children through adults.
- First, I would want to be familiar with movie. As I’ve watched this movie, I’d be aware of potential issues that could be challenged. In the case of a movie I had not read, I would want to have access to reviews.
- Then I would put together a rationale for why this movie is included in the collection. This rationale would include:
- Bibliographic Citation of the movie.
- A description of who the movie is best suited for.
- A summary of the movie and applicable other information, such as biographical information about the director.
- My justification for including the movie. This would include how it fits in with the selection policy and library mission statement, and include its educational significance if applicable or the impact it could have on readers.
- Copy of selection policy and library mission statement at my library.
- ALA Library Bill of Rights
- Good and bad reviews of the movie
- Alternative works a student could read or watch
- Reconsideration form if patron is not satisfied with rationale
- When talking to patron, I would listen to their concerns without getting on the defensive and attempt to sympathize with their concerns. In some cases, all an upset patron needs is to be able to vent and know that someone is listening to them.
- If needed, I would send the challenge up the chain of command.
This meets the recreational needs of teens and has a positive message about doing what is right and responsibility.
Why did you include this movie? : Superhero movies are very popular. I thought this one had particular teen appeal because the main character is a teen.
Biography for Sam Raimi (2013). Internet Movie Database. Retrieved from http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000600/bio