Saturday, May 05, 2007

Spider-Man III

He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you. -
Friedrich Nietzsche

Monsters, they are what Spider-Man faces everyday: thieves, murderers, and super villains. He fights them, risking life and limb, and not to mention a social life in order to save the weak. And after fighting the monsters, people without care or rules; he goes about his life without the mask and follow the restraint.

He is superior and superhuman who has to get along. That would have been perfect because it takes a superhuman amount of belief in ones own power and faith in humanity – to the law – for anyone not to give in to their inner monsters.

Alas, Spider-Man is all too human. A nerd in highschool, he has endured being bullied and being thought of as nothing. The situation has not changed even when he graduated. He is still being pushed around physically, mentally, and by circumstance; all the while having powers and advantages which can help him break the rules and fight those who bully him.

Spider-Man III sees Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) with a little help from an alien symbiote, forgetting the rules. But wait, I’m getting ahead of myself…

The film starts off with Parker get the adulation he has been waiting for all so long, both from the people of New York and his long time love, Mary Jane. The hounded vigilante in the first two movies was now like a rockstar receiving high profile public praises such as receiving the “key to the city”. The once humble boy has now developed a sense of entitlement.

Mary Jane’s life though spent together with Parker has taken an opposite direction. Unfortunately, with all the adulation and a new sense of entitlement, our hero was insensitive to his girlfriend’s plight. Harry Osborn, now a fully capable Green Goblin, was only too happy to see the strain in the relationship of his “best friends”.


Work was not exempt from problems either with the entrance of Eddie Brock (Topher Grace), a new photographer for the Daily Bugle. Parker now has competition in an already low paying job. His oversized ego was beginning to show signs of frustration. If the city adores him then why can’t Spider-Man have everything?

He just can’t as fate would later teach him. News of an escaped felon, Flint Marko (Thomas Haden Church), reached him and he snapped when he learned that Marko was the actual killer of his Uncle. Using the alien symbiote which he had just discovered he confronts the Marko, now known as Sandman, with lethal force. As a black Spider-Man, he was mad and out of control; for once enjoying that he can break the rules. Thankfully, in the end, he had Mary Jane to bring him back to sanity.

Spider-Man III started off poorly in the sense you would have to remember some parts of the second to get in a flow. The opening credits did show some recaps but it’s a bad way to start. It is an aftershock, I think, of the Lord of the Rings which essentially had one big story cut into three.

Spider-Man had three enemies total for the film: Venom, a new Green Goblin, and the Sandman. Getting them introduced made the movie seem disjointed, but it was all for a good cause because you’ll have a bonanza of costume figures at the end.

True to its advertisements of a battle within, Spider-Man III has had more focus on Parker than his enemies. Never was the spotlight brighter than when he wore the black suit which increased his power and robbed him of his inhibitions – and manners too. I didn’t like how they tried to make Tobey Maguire look ‘bad’. Maybe there is a physical limitation to acting as Tobey still looked boyish and nice. He was laughable at being ‘bad’.

I don’t get why Topher Grace was cast as Eddie Brock/Venom. I was expecting more of physically imposing or an evil looking villain because Topher has that same boyish look that Tobey Maguire has. But I guess that is the point, Brock is what Spider-Man could have become had he forgotten all sense of right and wrong.

The movie’s highpoint is the battle scenes, of course it helped that he had more than one enemy. It all mixed up beautifully at the end and with an interesting twist too.


So how does one keep from being a monster while battling monsters? I believe Spider-Man III has answered it: the hero must not be alone. It is not easy always doing the right thing; harder even when one has to be alone.

A hero is an example, admired, but most of all, he is followed. If no one understands or follows then a hero ceases to exist.