Spiderman - Movie Review
by Michael Elliott

Artistic Rating: 3.0 Stars
Comments: Action-packed and full of comic book fun, SpiderMan is everything its hype claims it to be.
Directed By: Sam Raimi
Starring: Tobey Maguire, Willem Dafoe, Kirsten Dunst, James Franco, Cliff Robertson, Rosemary Harris, J.K. Simmons
Written By: David Koepp
Rated: PG-13 for stylized violence action
Running Time: 2 hrs : 01 min
Scripture References: Proverbs 3:27, Galatians 6:10, 2 Corinthians 5:20

"This story is all about a girl..." or so says the film's narrator. Don't believe a word of it. The story of Spider-Man is all about Spidey and it's a good thing too. It makes for a thoroughly enjoyable, popcorn-injesting, CGI-enhanced movie-going experience as the Marvel Comics' web-slinging super hero comes to life before our eyes. I'm rather pleased to say that in something of a Hollywood anomaly, this movie may actually live up to all of its hyphenated hype.

The story is perhaps familiar to everyone. Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire, Wonder Boys), weak and nerdy high school student, is bitten by a genetically engineered spider during a routine science class field trip. No big whup. Except that the next morning, Peter discovers that he no longer needs his glasses, his abs are absolutely "ripped," and what's more, he is able to climb up the sides of buildings with spider ease.

His excitement over his new found abilities are somewhat tempered as he remembers the words spoken by his Uncle Ben (Cliff Robertson, Charly): "With great power comes great responsibility." Poor and irresponsible teenage choices early on lead to tragic consequences which serve to bring added meaning to Uncle Ben's words.

It is not long after Peter accepts the civic responsibility which is now uniquely his, that an arch enemy appears on the scene. The Green Goblin, with his motorized glider (kind of like a flying boogie board) is the result of a scientific experiment gone horribly bad. In an attempt to salvage a disappearing government grant, scientist Norman Osborne (Willem Dafoe, Shadow of the Vampire) injects himself with his performance enhancement serum. He obtains superhuman strength and intelligence. He's also gone quite mad, evidenced by the bizarre costume he chooses to wear.

Unable to defeat the do-gooder Spider-Man physically, The Green Goblin looks to beat him psychologically by attacking those close to him. That, of course, would include his Aunt May (Rosemary Harris, Tom and Viv) and the love of Peter's life, Mary Jane (Kirsten Dunst, Bring It On).

Director Sam Raimi (A Simple Plan) confesses to being a long time Spidey fan and his affection for the character definitely shows. Much of the film's appeal comes from the fact that Peter Parker is the common man's super hero. He's an average guy who by circumstance is thrust into an anything but average position. Raimi emphasizes Parker's gradual transition from wallflower to wall-climber with delightful glee.

Tobey Maguire is a wonderful choice to play Peter/Spidey. He's physically unassuming enough to make the nerdy Peter believable. His sense of discovery as he begins exploring his spider powers is both strongly realized and amusing.

Kirsten Dunst is attractive and appealing as Mary Jane but William Dafoe struggles in his awkwardly written villainous role. In a brief but hysterical appearance, J.K. Simmons (Oz) almost steals the movie as J. Jonah Jameson, the cigar-chomping newspaper publisher with a slide-rule haircut and a heart of stone.

Of course, Uncle Ben's words of wisdom ring exceedingly true. Great power does indeed come with great responsibility. God happens to put it a different way. He says:

"Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it." Proverbs 3:27 (KJV)

As believers, we know that the power of Christ resides within us. We live in a world where that power (and the peace that it brings) is needed more than ever. Every day, we will meet people who have genuine spiritual need in their lives. Every day, we will be granted opportunities to act in love, demonstrating God's goodness and strength to a world hungering for His presence. It is our privilege to serve as His ambassadors. More than a privilege actually... it is our responsibility.

Michael Elliott, c/o Movie Parables

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