It might be nostalgia, but I love this movie. It’s cheesy, the editing is poor, it has serious damsel in distress issues, and Tobey Maguire is way too earnest, but the story and the themes are so resonant. 

It avoids so many of the pitfalls of modern superhero movies: the final confrontation is in an abandoned building, it’s episodic without shirking its responsibility to provide a clear thematic structure, and characters actually change and grow — even Peter himself. The villain has clear motivation and actually feels like a threat, which is more than I can say for most superhero villains. (Willem Dafoe also does his best Jack Nicholson impersonation the whole time, which is a joy.)

It’s also amazing how much of this movie influenced super flicks to come. The Joker setting up the save the girl or the other guy” routine is an homage to save the girl or these kids” in construction. Stan Lee appears her as an extra for the first time (IIRC). 

But most of all, this tells a great story. If you haven’t seen it since Spider-Man 3, I don’t blame you. And it’s stylistically dated, without a doubt. But this is a much better movie than people are willing to give it credit for.

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