Monday, July 12, 2004

Spider-Man 2

This movie was so satisfying on so many levels. It has all the action, color and outrageousness expected from a comic book/super hero movie. Spider-Man is even more like a spider in this movie than the first right down to the various "resting" poses as he perches above people. The characters are properly fleshed out. Doc Ock isn't given just a couple of throw away lines so that we know he begins as a decent human being. He has several scenes to establish him as a likeable, caring humanitarian. All this and more has been written about by reviewers much more competent than I. The Decent Films review is probably my favorite of the ones I've read.

However, I don't think that Decent Films takes it far enough in the struggle that Peter Parker faces. This movie also is about the next step to becoming great, the day-to-day reality of being a super hero. The first movie showed Peter learning the reality of his uncle's favorite phrase, "With great power comes great responsibility." This movie is about just what must be sacrificed to achieve greatness. It is not just about the sacrifices (even of our hopes and dreams) that we must make when taking up great responsibility. It also is about the process of discerning our path and that the sacrifice must be whole hearted.

Peter Parker is miserable because being Spider-Man is forcing him to be less than whole hearted at the other things that he loves in his life. We learn later that he has taken up this responsibility because he felt it as a debt to his uncle; these were his uncle's ideals he was living out. It is only when Spider-Man faces the sacrifice squarely in the face and then still wholeheartedly embraces the responsibility, that he can truly be great. Some think that the fact that he still gains his heart's desire in the end is a cop out but I don't agree. Often it is just when we have made the effort necessary to embrace what we think is a sacrifice that we find our greatest rewards. This is a Catholic concept and I think this movie shows it perfectly.

Heavy stuff for a comic book movie? Yeah, but its handled well in an action packed, lighthearted package, full of eye candy, so go anyway.

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