Monday, May 28, 2007

Jason watches "Spider-man 3"

aka "Spider-Jesus". More on that in a bit.

Okay, general release movie rules apply, I don't feel a need to write much unless I have something most reviewers haven't mentioned. First the obligatory points: it looks awesome on IMAX, definitely worth it. There are too many villains, but Sam Raimi handles it rather nimbly, giving them each barely enough screen time. Perhaps Venom could have been saved for part 4, but whatever. Oddly enough, in "Spider-man 2" I was left wishing Doc Ock had more screen time, and I perked up in this one when I saw a framed Daily Bugle headline claiming the police are still looking for Doc Ock. It could be an old paper, of course, but it tickled my fantasy that somehow he survived drowning while holding on to a runaway fusion reaction and he'll return in a later episode.

I generally like Kirsten Dunst, but I've never really gotten into her as Mary Jane. In the first movie, it was totally worth it to see her standing in the rain. In the second, her closing line of "Go get'em tiger" finally made her look like Mary Jane. (As an aside, it must be kinda embarrassing putting on a skin-tight suit after finally making out with the girl of your dreams--the danger of pitching a spider-tent is great). In part 3, there's nothing that really made her stand out. I guess she's obligatory as the love interest, and Mary Jane is certainly integral in the Spider-man story, but there could have been a lot less of her.

Okay, and finally to the religious aspect. Making Christ figures out of heroes--especially superheroes--has a pretty long tradition. But it seemed to me like the religious symbolism was pretty important (if perhaps a little subtle) in this movie. Early on, Spider-man gets the key to the city for saving the police chief's daughter Gwen Stacy, who gives a glowing speech describing him as "the one you turn to when all hope is lost" (paraphrased) in terms I've only ever heard used to describe one man--Jesus. Later he tells Eddie Brock "If you want forgiveness, go to church", which Eddie Brock does, but without giving anything away, he neither seeks nor finds forgiveness. Forgiveness itself is the main theme of the movie.

So here's the question I turned over in my mind on the way home. Is Spider-man set up as a Christ figure, or is he set up as a false icon (he even describes himself as an icon), ready for a Beatles-esque "I'm more popular than Jesus" fall? More importantly, does the movie affirm religion, or mock it? Certainly forgiveness is the theme, but Eddie Brock goes to church for revenge, not forgiveness. In the end, it's friends working together who defeat the villains, not prayer. And the other main theme besides forgiveness is personal choice, which can be antithetical to what many Christians have preached to me about turning your choices over to Jesus. Most importantly, in terms of Spider-man not being a Christ figure, is that (spoiler alert) he doesn't die at the end. Now that would've been a gutsy movie--kill off Spider-man, then make Harry into an apostle Paul character. Spider-man 4 could be the gospel according to the new Green Goblin, and Spider-man could even be resurrected after 3 days.

Okay, now I'm just getting silly....

[update--Apparently I'm not the first to notice the religious symbolism in this movie. A Google search for "Spider-man 3 religious symbolism" has a ton of results, but at first glance they all appear to be from Christian websites. So I might not be the first to notice this, but I might be the first non-religious nut to notice.

Also, I never meant to say that personal choice is antithetical to Christianity or all Christians, just a specific subset I've met (and who've evangelized to me). As a matter of fact, I like many Christians who incorporate a strong sense of personal responsibility in their faith. So if this movie is promoting Christianity (or religion in general), it's promoting a specific flavor that I approve of.

Finally, I forgot to mention the scourging and crucifixion symbolism in the final battle scene. Parts of it played like "The Passion of the Spider-Man". Which now makes me want to see a re-make of "Passion of the Christ" as a superhero movie, just so I can hear Pontius Pilate in his best evil villain cackle shrieking "why won't you stay dead!"]


Dadmaniac said...

Well, coincidentially Melissa, Mom and 3DMS went to see Spidy-3 yesterday (Memorial Day). And Memorial Day was fitting in at least one way...I'm hoping that Spidy-3 is a memorial to the Marval comics and that it completes the cycle. So on to the movie. I don't know if it's just me or not, but I find the recurring theme of superheros never committing to their girls a little tiresome. It's like, get a life already Peter Parker...marry MJ, or at least take her for a ride on the Spider-Tent. How can a superhero be so timid around his one true love. Yes, it's tiresome and has me bored.
I enjoyed the extra villians, and the cgi was pretty good. Some of it went so fast that I couldn't really tell exactly what was happening. Maybe that was much of a rush that one gets confounded. Anyway, I thought that part was really good. In the beginning, when MJ was singing, I was literally bored to tears...and not tears of joy. To sum up my views on this was some great action and a pretty good story bogged down by some very slow interludes. I mean, C'mon dude...haven't you ever heard of pacing?
So in summary, it was pretty good and it's nice to see Harry redeemed and turned into a good guy (if only for a short time), and that Venom...does he need orthodontia, or what? But there's no character as interesting and conflicted as Doc Ock, and Jason was right to hope that he survived to return again. Sandman was interesting but what really was the point in bringing up poor Uncle Ben's demise again. As Jason said, forgiveness and redemption. Eh. I give it 2.5 "Wieners" out of a possible 4.

baceman007 said...

I don't think it's a religious thing. I think the idea of super heroes struggling to keep their power in check is just a recurring theme in these kind of movies in general. There was some subtle religious symbolism, but I think it was unintentional. The church was a convenient location to have a bell so Spider Man could loose the Venom suit, for example. The prayer scense was also a convenient way for the photographer to get the suit. It was just a good setup for it to happen in a church logistically. There was way too much Mary Jane, as I outline in my podcast. I've personally had enough of selfish, dumb bitch characters taking up 1/3 of what otherwise could have been a good movie. It's like how Peter Jackson skipped the Witch King fight in Lord of the Rings so he could get a huge boner watching Legalos surf on elephants, or some crap. I am of course just trying to guess what his motivation was. Less Mary Jane and more screen time with each villan was definately in order. Anyway, back to religion. A few months ago, in a parking lot, a middle aged lady with a huge Jesus fish on her car almost ran me over. She didn't even look behind her before backing up. My response, although somewhat unfair, was something like, "well at least Jesus loves you you dumb bitch, why don't you watch less of your preacher and more of the road, etc. etc." that's to paraphrase it. I was pretty pissed. Anyway, it wasn't that I hated Jesus. It's that I hate the idea of people giving up their responsibility to Jesus. We're the most intelligent creatures that we know of and so many people refuse to think. They want to be able to run you over in the parking lot, instead of accepting the responsibility to look in the first place, and say well it's ok that I'm an irresponsible waste of sperm because I'm not responsible for my own actions. I've given up my responsibility to think to Jesus. People actively choose not to think, for any reason, are offensive. Anyway, to tie this back into Spider Man and the symbolism, in many ways this is what the people of NYC do in this movie, which contradicts Stan Lee's cameo abut how one person can make a difference. The people don't really need Spider Man, they just need not to just stand around and do nothing when their city is being ripped apart. I know that's not the point of going to see Spider Man, but in this way he does become like a Jesus figure, a higher power that the people turn to when they're too afraid to have personal responsibility. Sigh..... anyway, this movie sucked hard even on an IMAX screen. It looked good, and that was about it.

puppymeat said...

The really annoying thing about the drawn out romance/failure with MJ is there's just no reason for it. She already knows he's Spider-Man, there's no extra danger in marrying her. And most frustratingly, they do get married in the comics. The source material is okay with them getting together, why hold to the annoying cliche of superhero-can't-get-the-girl?

As far as the religious elements, I still think it's intentional, although it's also intentionally pushed into the background, so you can enjoy it without thinking about God. Much like "The Chronicles of Narnia" was very specifically written as Christian allegory, but the movie was intentionally made in such a way that you could see it if you wanted to, or you could just enjoy a fun adventure story.