So, first, Spider-Man. I got there around 5:40 or so, and the rest dribbled in over the next hour. We managed to get pretty decent seats, which was cool - with the huge crowds, I had serious concerns. Every show was sold out for the day - thank $DEITY for online ticket purchasing. There were a LOT, too - around 30, maybe more - it was showing on six screens there. I chose that theater because it's pretty big, easy to get to, and best of all has really kick-ass full-sized seats (headrest height) that even recline a bit - sooo much more comfortable to watch a movie in than most theaters.
Spider-Man was good, but my initial (pre-watching) impressions were unfortunately accurate. Tobey Maguire was terrible in the role - he's apparently a horrible actor (he had basically one expression on his face in the entire movie - blank stare with BIG watery fish eyes, that covered every emotion from anger to happiness to sadness), or perhaps was just the wrong one for this role. He'd make a good fish, I think, swimming in a fishbowl, if they ever make Goldfish Bowl - The Movie. His voice is whiny and dorky, which was ok for Peter Parker, but totally inappropriate for when he was in costume. It never STOPPED being whiny and dorky, even when trying to be heroic - or sarcastic and funny - which detracted a bit from it for me. The fact that he could have the exact same expression when crying over his Uncle Ben's death as he did when he was expressing his love for MJ was just silly. He's a terrible actor, and hopefully he'll be decapitated by a passing bus before making the next movies so they can find someone more appropriate for the role.
Kirsten Dunst was hot, as expected, but didn't really show a lot else in the role. She did, however, show more acting ability than Tobey. She looks good wet, too, which I can't say for him. She played the part acceptably well, though, and was able to express both disappointment and a bit of that sassy spark that MJ was supposed to have. She was ok.
Norman Osborne, the green goblin, was played by Willem Defoe (I may be off on the spelling of some of these names, but I'm too lazy to look them up right now). It was... an... interesting performance. He definitely hammed it up, but he's sort of hammy anyways, and his face is so hideous to start off with that it basically worked. There was definitely a high cheese factor, but again, it was good enough for the situation. He died by being stabbed through the crotch with his own glider - helluva way to die. (Some might argue he was stabbed in the torso, but if you look at where it hit and how he was able to fully bend over to die resting on his own glider, it was below waist level. That's just not kosher, people!)
Harry Osborne was played by some guy - and I liked him in the role. Again, it was a cheesy role and superficial, like most of the character development, but I thought he handled it well and looked decent for the part.
Flash Thompson was played by some guy I didn't know, and was black haired and a bit too much of an asshole. Flash was supposed to be a bit of a dumb asshole jock, but he and Peter later became friends, and that just wouldn't happen with the relationship as portrayed on-screen. I'm guessing it's not going to happen in any of the movies.
There were cameos by Bruce Campbell (see the wrestling scene), Stan Lee (see the scene where the Goblin attacks the parade/fair), Lucy Lawless (the punk chick who comments on his eight arms, I think), and of course Sam Raimi's brother had a small role.
Betty Brant was in the movie, although we never even got to hear her name, as she totally blew Pete off when he introduced himself - which is about right considering the timing - but still an interesting choice. She was definitely a Betty.
J. Jonah Jameson was played by some guy that I know but whose name I can't remember - in a very flat, exaggerated manner, but one that worked for the role. He was mostly comic relief, really.
The movie was not surprising for a Sam Raimi - it had all of his normal friends and actors as guest stars or cameos, had a lot of cheesy jokes and caricatured performances, and overall felt a bit flat - but was also very enjoyable, like most of his stuff. He's a light director, but it's a comic book, and it's in the early stages - so light and energetic worked for it.
Ok, on to the movie: it opens with Pete in high school and living in Queens. MJ is his next door neighbor, and apparently has abusive parents. They visit Columbia University on a school trip and see some experimental spiders, which have been genetically engineered to combine the best abilities of all of the various breeds of spiders - and then Pete gets bitten by one. They go back, he goes home, collapses, and when he wakes up his eyesight is better, he's muscular and fit, and starts discovering his new abilities. One thing worth noting: his webs are now part of him, not fired from web-shooters. While personally I think it makes more sense in the overall scheme for it to happen that way, it removes one aspect of the character from the comics, as a lot of plot points and events in the comics revolved around him, his science experiments, and specifically his web-shooters and webbing. He modified the formula to suit different situations, he was able to adapt the shooters to fire in different patterns, etc. If they're genetic and part of him, all of that's gone - so when an enemy proves to be webbing-resistant, he can't just modify the formula in the movies now, or whatever. Should be interesting. They also didn't go over the cleanup - the webbing was supposed to dissolve into thin-air after a few hours, but they ignored that in the movie, which I think would've been worth mentioning (and wouldn't have taken much time). Then again, the movie took a "show, don't tell" attitude towards explaining his powers - they're never really discussed, just shown on screen as he figures them out, and getting into details like that might've ruined the rhythm.
So, back to the movie - Pete is friends with Harry Osborne, son of brilliant scientist and military contractor, Norman Osborne. Harry is his only real friend, and is a shallow rich kid, but does show genuine concern for Peter. After graduation, MJ breaks up with Flash - and Harry makes his move. Harry and Pete become roommates in the city, and Peter finds out the hard way after the fact that Harry and MJ are dating. For those of you not in the know - Peter loves MJ, and depending on who you ask, either has since he first met her at the age of 6 (Aunt May) or since Fourth Grade (Harry).
Oh, whoops, let me backtrack - Peter's Uncle Ben dies because Pete lets a criminal escape, and Peter blames himself, and takes Uncle Ben's words ("With great power comes great responsibility") to heart, and becomes a super-hero.
The plot's actually rather convoluted, so I'll just fast-forward through it: Norman Osborne tries his own super-soldier formula on himself, and it works, but makes him insane. He dons his own battle-armor and glider and becomes the Green Goblin, super-villain extraordinaire. He and Spider fight a lot. Tobey's voice sounds like an ultra-dork in the mask, and he makes almost none of his trademark wisecracks and quips in the fights. They fight, stuff happens in Pete's life, they fight some more, more stuff, more fights, more stuff, and then Peter wins, leaving Norman dead, and Harry blaming Spider-Man for his father's death, but loving Peter as a brother, as he is "all the family he has left". (Spoiler: that pretty much guarantees that Harry will take up the reins as the Green Goblin in SM2 or SM3, which they've already signed the stars for. It will also lead to the great emotional conflict, since when Harry/GG eventually figures out the relation between Peter and Spidey, he'll find himself both loving and hating him at the same time.)
MJ and Peter finally hook up at the end, but Peter turns her down realizing that anyone he loves and that loves him is in danger because of his dual identity. However, before breaking it off, they kiss, and as he walks away MJ turns and looks at him in shock - since she kissed Spider-Man earlier, she apparently realizes at the very end of the movie who he is. Should make #2 very interesting.
The special-effects and fight scenes were excellent. It very rarely felt like an episode of Xena or Power Rangers (although the Goblin's suit did occasionally veer into PR territory), and the CG animated Spider-Man was excellent - it was every bit as good as it looks in the ads. They downplayed his spider sense (very rarely did it actually alert him to attacks) but that was ok. The movement of the CG animated character was really excellent, though, and worth a huge amount of kudos - I can't think of any time any CG house has EVER nailed the human form or its movement as well - although to play Devil's Advocate, it WAS very exaggerated and the constantly moving camera angles gave them a lot more leeway to make mistakes. Still, more than any other example I can think of, they really "got" it. It's like the difference between a Disney movie and most other animated flicks (less true today, extremely true 15 or 20 years ago) - the character moved like it was real, not like it was moved by some animator. Even motion capture doesn't look as good as this stuff, which even if captured I'm sure was tweaked by a CG artist - because the motion capture can pick up the big movements but not the little subtleties, the shift in muscles, etc. that happen in real life. Overall, I was impressed as I've ever been by CG work - while I couldn't care less about the explosions or other special effects, the rendered characters (Spider-Man and the Green Goblin on his glider (sometimes)) were really impressive.
Overall, the movie was light, but a lot of fun and definitely worth watching. The plot was overly convoluted (I think they could've honestly focused on less time and spread out the plot into almost two movies), the acting was so-so, and the dialogue varied from extremely amusing and clever to rather bad, but the action scenes are well done, the overall feel is very good, and it's just fun. Sometimes a movie is more than the sum of its parts, and that's definitely the case here - while Sam isn't the best director, he really managed to give it the feel of the comics, and to capture the fun of reading the comics, even though a lot of the building blocks he was working with weren't up to snuff - and that's pretty typical. Look at Xena - terrible writing, terrible acting, even bad action scenes - but it was a blast to watch, he knew what to do with it to make it fun. Spider-Man had much higher production values, better acting and writing and such, and very good action - which, combined with his touch as director, made for a very good movie. Go see it, if you haven't, I think you'll enjoy it.
Dinner at Baba's was another matter entirely - while not bad, it was just so-so, and consistently so-so. I've never had Malaysian food, but I've had enough other Asian foods to know that it could've been better. We had a bunch of dishes, none of which I can remember the names for, and I didn't really like any of them. They were all ok, none of them really bad, but none of them great either - not a single one. After the weeks of hype penchantnyc gave it, it should've blown me away. BBZZZZZZZZZT. ;)
So anyways, realistically it wasn't bad, just not great. We also ordered too much food, and it ended up being pretty expensive - $22 a head for dinner, which seems like a lot to me for Asian family-style dining. I'd go for Chinese or Thai any day over that stuff, but I have a feeling it didn't do justice to Malay cooking anyways.
The table next to us was full of Asian teeny boppers (I bet half the people in the restaurant had Asian Avenue accounts), who all had Nextels, so djstorm and I were constantly jumping and checking our phones, as theirs were going off constantly.
The movie was at 7; we got to dinner at 9:30; and we left at a little after midnight. K seemed more than a little awkward at the dinner, but I'm not sure if that was "opening night jitters" (she had never met anyone there, other than the obvious one) or she's just naturally reticent. She seemed a bit tired, or maybe just put off. B was also quiet and in the background a lot, but I've only met him once and I get the impression that's normal for him. (I'm quiet too, so I can't really say much about it. Then again, I'm literally quiet - even when I do talk and enter into a conversation, I'm not (usually) loud, and found myself having to repeat myself a lot in the restaurant, which was loud.)
So overall, a very very nice night. Two thumbs up all around - the movie was very good, the company was very good, and the food was good enough. I had a lot of fun, and hopefully so did everyone else.