I remember back in 2001 after I saw POTA (2001) and being impressed by Elfman's score to it. And couldn't wait to see (or hear) what he came up with for Spider-man. And he didn't disappoint. Now almost ten years later (though it's been a while since I've last heard it) it's still great. Probably even better than it was in 2002, imo. Especially since a lot of superhero scores today have the generic MV/RC sound. The main problem I have with the album are the micro-edits in some of the tracks. But overall a great and fun score. That hits all the right notes. It's paced good and there's never a dull moment on the album.
A lot of people complained that it sounds like his Batman score and many of his other superhero scores, which is BS. The score is Elfman-esque. But saying it sounds exactly like Batman, when it actually doesn't, is beyond ridiculous.
People have also stated that it has no themes. The score has plenty of themes. You can hear Spidey's theme throughout the score. It's disguised through all the texture and layers the score has, but it's still there. You can hear it throughout in "Main Title", "Costume Montage", "Something's Different" (small piece of the theme plays at the beginning of that particular track), "City Montage", "Parade Attack", "Final Confrontation" and "End Credits". Basically whenever Spider-man shows up in the film.
Peter Parker also has a theme as well. Which is even more memorable than Spidey's own, imo. It also play's on the same tracks I mentioned above except "Something's Different". It also play's on the second half of "Revelation' which takes place at the hospital, where Peter tells an unconcious Aunt May that he's sorry.
MJ has a theme that you can hear in the first half of the track "Revelation" (plays during the upside down kiss scene). You can also hear it in "Getting Through" and "Farewell". The theme is kind of underused on the album. But when used it's used with great affect.
Green Goblin's theme can be heard in "Parade Attack", "Specter of the Goblin", "Final Confrontation".The theme goes all out when GG shows up on the bridge firing pumpkin bombs in the "Final Confrontation". Which has the music of the first half of the bridge scene and the second half of the music during final fight scene in the condemned building.
Aunt May even has a theme. It only plays on "Alone". So it's a load of bull that the score has no themes what so ever. It had plenty.
People have also complained that his theme isn't as iconic or memorable as Superman's or Batman's. Why should every superhero score have to be like Superman's and Batman's ? I think Elfman took the right approach by giving Spidey a motif instead of big theme or a march. He gave Parker the big theme. It makes sense since Peter Parker is who he really is and not Spider-man. He never trained most of his life to be a crimefighter. In fact he never set out to be one. Once he found out he had powers. Guilt over uncle Ben's death is what got him to become a crimefighter. Plus Elfman was able to do more with his Spider-man motif than he could with his Batman theme. He did many things with that theme that Williams's Superman theme and a lot of other big themes wouldn't be able to do, imo.
The score has plenty of highlights. I can't really pick one since I enjoyed the whole album. I thought the Spider-man theme was used with great affect in the score and film. I liked how it was used during Parker's shirt rip at the parade. I also loved how he used the Peter Parker theme when GG dropped the ferry and MJ. And as Spider-man's running to save them both as they were falling. The music was very powerful and epic in that whole scene but especially that particular part. The GG theme really captures the psychotic, twisted , schizophrenic nature of the character without using a one note theme. The score is hard for me not to like. I think it's one of the best superhero scores. It's right up there with the greats.
Here are some cues that proves how underrated and great this score really is. Eventhough there's plenty of other tracks that can prove that as well. But I don't want to post them all. The score is like a puzzle when all put together. You see the whole picture and will appreciate the score even more b/c of how detailed every track is. You probably have to hear the complete score to really appreciate this. Eventhough I haven't heard the complete score. But going off of it in the film. The score really is clever and more than a by the numbers superhero score, imo.
I love how the end credits actually closes. I'll try to explain it as best as I can. But it feels as if eventhough Spidey's origins are completed . He will have many more adventures and responsibilities as Peter Parker and Spiderman. The score really captures the heart of the character as well as the film itself, imo. And really deserves more praise.