Amidst all the recent Spider-Man movie hype, an independent film-maker has been making news surrounding his own interpretation of one of the best Spider-Man stories of all time. Does it come across? In a word: Hell yes! Created in 1992 on a US$500 budget, Dan Poole weaves a classic Spider-Man story featuring the one-and-only Norman Osborne. What more could you ask for? (And you'd better not say organic web-shooters!)
The movie runs to 50-odd minutes, so it's short by feature-film standards. Let me summarize the plot for you.
The movie starts with Spider-Man on a bridge, following a suspicious-looking car. He follows the car, swinging from the bridge to a nearby building, and then drops on top of the car. He tackles the crooks and webs them up, telling a woman walking nearby to call the police. When she asks why he can't, he replies "because I've got a date." He swings away on a webline as the woman remarks "lucky girl!".
Gwen is waiting patiently at the restaurant when Peter shows up and begs forgiveness. He tells her he was later because Spider-Man had to stop a robbery, and he had to take pictures. Gwen, however, doesn't want to hear about the webslinger, still blaming him for the death of her father. Peter tries to defend the integrity of his secret identity, but Gwen is having none of it. As they are talking, Peter's spider-sense goes off, and he sees what he thinks is Norman Osbourne zipping by in a taxi. Peter gets worried and tells Gwen he's got to find Harry and warn him.
At Harry's place, Norman shows up, looking for his son. Up in Harry's study, Norman sees the headline of the Daily Bugle: "Green Goblin vanishes in explosion". His head reels from vertigo as he stares at the paper, trying to figure out why it affects him so. Norman hears the front door, and goes running downstairs to greet his son.
He sees Parker instead. Peter's nervous (obviously), and Norman accuses him of trying to hide Harry from his father. Peter tells Norman he'll find Harry and bring him back, and he hurriedly leaves. Back at Peter's apartment, he and Gwen are talking about Norman's mysterious release. Peter tries to figure out why Norman is out, and if his amnesia still exists.
Back at Harry's house, Norman sits back down at the paper and reads the article. After reading about the destruction of his warehouse, Norman freaks out and wonders how long he's been gone. He reads about 'Spider-Man', and the name makes him furious. He looks at the photo credit, Peter Parker, and his rage escalates even more. He sees a vision of Spider-Man, and leaps at it, only to kiss the door. Norman is seeing Spider-Man everywhere, and he follows these phantoms out into the streets, and to his old warehouse. A few toughs are having a little "party" there, and ask Norman for his invitation. All Norman sees is Spider-Man, and he takes them on. One guy uses a tazer on Norman's forehead, but it doesn't faze him. The guy picks up a brick (I think), knocks Norman out, picks up his buddy and runs. The last thing Norman whipsers is "Spider-Man".
"Spider-Man?!" Gwen yells (back at Peter's apartment). Peter and Gwen argue about the webslinger's involvement in all this, when Gwen stomps out mad. Peter just misses a phone call from Harry while chasing his girlfriend. Seems like the Parker luck is running true to form.
Norman wakes up to the sounds of a helicopter flying overhead, and suddenly remembers everything. He finds his old Goblin gear, still hidden in a secret stash, and for the first time we see the Green Goblin in all his evil splendor.
Peter runs into Harry back at his place, scaring the bejeezus out of both of them. Peter tells Harry about his Dad's release, Harry goes to find the number to the hospital, only to find it missing. Harry tells Peter that it also had his phone number and address on it. Harry looks up, just as Peter races out of the room. Peter races into the alley way, changes into his spider-duds, and swings away.
Gwen comes to Peter's apartment, wanting to apologize for last night. She instead finds the goblin, who throws some "pass-out" dust in her eyes. Spidey shows up at the apartment just in time to be taunted by the Green Goblin, holding Gwen's limp form in his hands. A chase ensues ending up (where else?) on the Washington Street bridge!
While they battle, Gwen gets perilously close to the edge, and the Goblin knocks her over the edge! Spidey webs her up, but not in time. She dies from the fall. Spidey lunges at the Goblin and pounds the living crap out of him, but the Goblin slams a pumpkin bomb in his face and escapes.
Back at his warehouse, the Goblin is planning for his next move, when Spidey breaks down the door and tells Norman his days are through. A furious battle follows, and right when the Green Goblin think he's got Spider-Man where he wants him (with his broken bat-glider zooming straight for Peter's back), Spidey's danger sense kicks in, and Norman meets an untimely end on the prongs of his own glider. Evil is annihilated again.
At the end, we see Peter at Gwen's grave, vowing to continue on as Spider-Man, so that her death will not be meaningless, and that (you knew it was coming) with great power comes great responsibility!
This movie is a perfect example of what makes a great comic book story. And what better story to portray on film than the death of Gwen Stacy? Obviously, this wasn't a "big-budget" movie, (I believe it was made on $500), but that doesn't matter. It's got a great script, good acting on all parts, and the cinematography did a great job of compensating for any lack of flashy special effects.
Mr. Poole, the creator of this little project, also did well on bringing Spider-Man up-to-date in subtle ways. Harry leaving a message on Peter's answering machine was a nice touch, as well as the taser the thug zapped Norman with. These little things worked well into the story, but didn't detract from it.
If I had my way, this would be the template for any major motion picture concerning Spider-Man, because it has the elements that make Spidey great. Characterization, human stories, and more than it's share of butt-kicking! I don't think any studio big-wigs would agree with me, but are they doing this review? I didn't think so!
If you are a comics fan, a Spider-Man fan, or just someone who can look past a less-than-huge budget, no huge name actors, and lack of big-money special effects, this movie will definitely treat you with a compelling story and a nice little reality-escape.
[As of 2021, you can still find this movie on YouTube for free - Ed.]