Monday, May 14, 2007

Not quite so celebratory

From the sublime reaches of theology to the elasticity of Spiderman – Spiderman 3, no less.
My wife and I went to see it last night – even made the effort to see it on the big screen, along with twenty other people. The spiritual underpinning continues, with forgiveness well to the fore at the end of the movie, and with lust for evil well-expressed (one character even ‘praying’ for Spiderman’s death). There’s also a lovely visual moment when Spiderman is seen as a gargoyle on the outside of a church steeple.
But beyond the spirituality? It’s an odd film: three villains coming and going, Spiderman having to find out who he is and how dark his dark side is - and still not getting the girl…quite. The fight scenes are even more comic book than before, and stretch credibility to its limits - though they’re extraordinarily well staged. But a number of shots of someone being hammered into something much harder than they are, and of people dropping from heights and getting up after a quick shake of the head, and people surviving explosions. Well, it’s all just a bit much. I don’t think it quite matches number two, and number two didn’t quite have something that number one had. What I think that was, was celebration! Spiderman the first was so celebratory that I went and saw it twice, evangelistically taking someone else with me. Toby Maguire was so boyish in the role then and Kirsten Dunst was just so lovely. But this third movie requires them to trade on those qualities again and again, without any real development. Maguire is now 32 and even though he still looks boyish, there must be a limit to how much longer he wants to go on playing a child/man. You get the feeling he wants to break out in this movie, and yes, he does break out, but it’s only to go back to the Spiderman/Toby that he was at first. There isn’t any real forward movement.
Sam Raimi is a great director of this kind of movie, and deserves plenty of credit. But I just didn’t feel moved by the film, in the way I was moved at the first in the series.
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