"No Greater Love"
First, the not-so-good news: SPIDER-MAN 3 is not quite as thrilling as the second movie. Now the really Good News: the movie still gives moviegoers a wonderful treat of action, humor, adventure, suspense, and spectacle, mixed with many inspiring, heartfelt emotions and truths. Furthermore, of all the action movies that have come and gone in the history of contemporary cinema (including the last two SPIDER-MAN movies), SPIDER-MAN 3 is probably the most overtly Christian of them all. The first two SPIDER-MAN movies played around with overt Christian allegory. In SPIDER-MAN 3, however, the Christian metaphors and symbols come brilliantly, explicitly, cogently, and strongly to life, to deliver a powerful, potent message of hope, faith, sacrifice, forgiveness, redemption, compassion, and love. But, the greatest of these is love (1 Cor. 13).
SPIDER-MAN 3 begins with Spider-Man, a.k.a. Peter Parker, surveying the crime-free paradise he has created in the big city. Not only do criminals fear him, but the public finally sees him as the hero he wants to be. To top it all off, Peter is about to propose to the girl of his dreams, Mary Jane Watson, a.k.a. M.J.
There’s trouble in paradise, however. Peter is getting a big head from all the public adulation, and he is not able to properly comfort M.J. when she gets a bad review after her opening night on Broadway. Meanwhile, a new, cocky photographer, Eddie Brock, challenges Peter for a full-time job with the Daily Bugle. The cost of getting the job is to give crusty editor J. Jonah Jameson a negative photo of Spider-Man doing something bad!
Then, when Peter’s relationship with M.J. starts to turn more and more sour, a new villain shows up, an escaped criminal named Flint Marko who gets caught in a particle physics experiment gone wrong to become the Sandman. The Sandman is a really cool-looking character who can change his shape into a battering ram or shifting sand particles, or float away as a sand storm.
As if Peter Parker and Spider-Man didn’t have enough problems, Peter’s old friend Harry takes up the Green Goblin mantle to get revenge for the death of his father, the first Green Goblin, who was killed during a fight with Spider-Man. And, a meteor from outer space unleashes an intelligent alien monster of malevolent, black sticky goo that attaches itself to one of Peter’s Spider-Man outfits. When Peter learns that the Sandman, Flint Marko, is really the one who killed Peter’s beloved Uncle Ben in the first movie, the new black suit unleashes all of Peter’s anger and hate. Thus, the greatest villain of all turns out to be Peter’s, and our, own dark, sinful hearts.
The story builds from here into a thrilling finale where Peter learns the true meaning of love, and the power of forgiveness. In the end, he finds a way to make things right again, but with a newfound level of maturity.
It’s hard to juggle more than one major villain in a story, and this may be where SPIDER-MAN 3 suffers most. It gives the movie one or two too many sub-plots to handle. That said, of all the action movies with more than one major villain (see BATMAN 2 and 3, for example), SPIDER-MAN 3 does the best, because it knows where it’s headed and what it wants to say.
Thus, the final third of SPIDER-MAN 3 contains overt Christian references to Jesus Christ on the Cross, a Christian church and answered prayers. These combine to reinforce the movie’s Christian themes of love, sacrifice, forgiveness, hope, compassion, and faith. Consequently, despite a couple scary villains that are a little too much for younger children, SPIDER-MAN 3 has a very strong Christian worldview with very strong moral, biblical values. If Christians and families see only one action movie this year, SPIDER-MAN 3 is the one action movie they and other moviegoers may not want to miss.
Best of all, not only does SPIDER-MAN 3 extol Christian values like sacrifice, forgiveness and love in a setting that resonates with overt Christian metaphors and symbols, it also is a cinematic embodiment of Jesus Christ’s statement in John 15:13, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” This is a lesson that both Peter and M.J. learn in SPIDER-MAN 3. It is also what Jesus does for us on the Cross, so that His death may wash us free of sin and bring us closer to Him and His precious love and joy in the Kingdom of God and Heaven.
(CCC, BBB, PP, L, VV, N, A, D, M) Very strong Christian worldview with crucial, overt references to Jesus Christ on the Cross, a Christian church and answered prayers with very strong moral, Christian values powerfully presented, including love, sacrifice, forgiveness, hope, compassion, redemption, and faith, plus good conquers evil, the hero overtly encourages people to choose good over evil, evil is justly punished, and a movie has a strongly positive view of Americans with a positive image of the American flag in a patriotic aside in one shot; two or three relatively light obscenities and two or three light exclamatory profanities (God and My God); strong action violence with a couple scary villains includes lots of fighting and leaping, sometimes scary large human sand creature pounds objects and Spider-Man hero, Spider-Man chases villains and villains chase Spider-Man resulting in some vehicle crashes, explosions, explosion scars character's face, malevolent black goo latches onto people and turns them into bad people and sometimes monsters with scary pointy teeth, people and people with super powers fall, people with super powers thrown or hit buildings, character stabbed, man turned evil hits girlfriend in fit of anger, explosions hit large human sand creature, large runaway crane tears through buildings and endangers people's lives, car theft results in gunshot death, etc.; no sex scenes but a few kisses and slightly suggestive dancing in two brief shots; brief upper male nudity, nothing sexual; brief, minor alcohol references such as champagne is served and two scenes set in nightclub where alcohol probably is being drunk though it's not really shown in the foreground; man has cigar; and, hero's girlfriend gets justifiably jealous, hero ignores girlfriend's pain about career troubles by giving her empty platitudes that focus on himself, angry villain forces woman to lie to her boyfriend, angry villain makes a hateful prayer to God that is not answered, villain doctors photo to slander hero and gain upper hand against professional rival, and stealing and greed rebuked.
SPIDER-MAN 3 begins with Spider-Man, a.k.a. Peter Parker, surveying the crime-free paradise he has created in the city. There's trouble in paradise, however. Peter is getting a big head from all the public adulation for Spider-Man. This endangers his relationship with M.J., the girl of his dreams. Also, Peter's friend Harry takes up the Green Goblin mantle to get revenge against him for the death of Harry's father. Meanwhile, a new villain shows up, an escaped convict who may be the person who killed Peter's beloved Uncle Ben and who, due to a science experiment gone wrong, turns into the Sandman. Finally, a malevolent, intelligent black sticky goo from space latches onto one of Peter's Spider-Man suits, turning him and his alter ego into a bad guy.
SPIDER-MAN 3 is not as thrilling as the second movie, but it still gives moviegoers a wonderful treat of action, humor, adventure, suspense, and spectacle that firmly endorses hope, faith, sacrifice, forgiveness, compassion, and love. Best of all, SPIDER-MAN 3 takes the Christian allegories of the first two movies and transforms them into an overtly Christian, inspiring message of good conquering evil.