Friday, May 4, 2007

Spiderman 3

Several years ago I was among the first here at Hollywood Jesus to review Spiderman. I was blown away at all of the spiritual comparisons in the movie and am grateful that I have been along for the journey. I don’t like hearing or seeing reviews of movies prior to actually seeing the movie, but I did catch one yesterday that was somewhat intriguing. The reviewer stated that Spiderman 3 was too good. It was so good in fact that the story overshadowed the incredible special effects. I was somewhat surprised by the comments but after seeing the movie this morning, I find myself in full agreement. Spiderman 3 is almost too good.

One of the fun facts about the Spiderman series is the ability of each movie to stand on its own. What I didn’t realize until this morning though is that not only does the three stand alone; they also form an incredible trilogy and journey. What will likely be the last go around for Toby Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, James Franco and Director, Writer, Sam Rami among others, the Spiderman movies were well worth the time. I would go so far as to say, that with the possible exception of The Lord of the Rings, the Spiderman Trilogy may be the best compilation to ever come about. It is simply that good and that moving in virtually every way imaginable.

Without giving much away I will focus on the spiritual themes. I said in my initial review of Spiderman that Spiderman may be the most “Christian” of all superheroes. That comparison hasn’t changed with any of the three movies. We see the journey of Peter Parker (Spiderman) throughout the series. We see him, as Spiderman learn to use great powers, learn how to love, and then base his actions on his faith. He never forgets the things learned by his Uncle Ben and Aunt May. We know from past episodes that they are strong people of faith, and we have seen their faith impact Peter in many ways.

One of the beautiful things about Spiderman 3 is the realization, that even good people have the potential to become and or do evil. Peter sees this as he becomes more focused on himself than he does the needs of others. He has an outside influence take control of his actions, and Spiderman turns from a humble servant of others to a self glorifying, self promoting hero of sorts. It isn’t long before we see a darker side of not only Peter Parker but also Spiderman. We see this journey not only in Peter but in virtually every other character. We have seen the journey developing deeply with the character Harry Osborn/New Goblin. That journey takes what was once the best of friends and turns them into the most revengeful of enemies.

As Peter is on this journey he eventually realize that he has become something he can’t stand, something is tearing away everything he loves. He ultimately comes to the realization that he don’t like who he has become. It is literally the church where Peter Parker finds salvation, salvation not just in a physical sense, but in a spiritual sense, at the foot of a cross.

It is also the church where we see the creation of the very evil which would destroy Peter and Spiderman. As Peter finds redemption, one can’t help but think of the symbolism involved in others going to church for the wrong reasons and the bitterness, anger, and revenge that can take over their lives. It is evidenced not only in their actions, but in their supposed faith and prayer life. I have no doubt after seeing the Spiderman series, and seeing this final episode in the Trilogy that the creators had this in mind. It is evident in the dialog as we hear a voice over from Aunt May where she states, “Uncle Ben wouldn't want us living with revenge in our hearts, it's like a poison. It can take you over and turn us into something ugly.”

As important as the theme of controlling our actions, not seeking revenge, and of loving and caring for others is in Spiderman 3, I would have to say the primary theme has to do with forgiveness. There are many scenes where the theme of forgiveness comes out. From Mary Jane saying: “We've all done terrible things to each other, but we have to forgive each other. Or everything we ever were will mean nothing,” to critical heartbreaking scenes where forgiveness is offered without being asked for.

I have to say, I was among the skeptics who doubted the casting of Toby Maguire as Peter Parker / Spiderman. I have to also say I was wrong. I was wrong because the casting director, director, and writers of Spiderman knew the power of the Spiderman series would be with the life and struggles of Peter Parker. Sure Maguire was able to carry out the action sequences in all of the movies, but he was also developed the character of Peter Parker to where we as viewers cared, and could relate to the struggles we see on the screen. Spiderman succeeded for a reason as a series, it never forgot about how to develop characters and stories we cared about. For those wanting a story to go with the action, you won’t do any better than Spiderman 3. Take my word for it, and go to church, church at the local cinema where you will see the totality and need of humanity addressed.

On a scale of 1- 10 for a movie with every thing, for the 3 movies times the three adversaries, plus Spiderman who has to battle himself, a wonderful conclusion to the series with a very deserving 10

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