A Spoonful of Spirituality…

Movies that work in a bit of spiritual along with computer generated eye candy are a conundrum for me.  I want to know whether or not the spiritual comments are intended as the tip of an iceberg, revealing what the overall purpose and message of the movie might be, or simply provided to add depth where there really isn’t any. 

Case in point – I Am Legend.  Seems like a pretty straight-forward sci-fi-action-zombie-cannibal flick.  It’s been done before, the storyline shouldn’t (and doesn’t) hold many surprises.  And all that’s fine, because Will Smith is a good actor and special effects are pretty good these days and so it should just be a decent remake. 

But woven into the story – in subtle yet intentional ways – is a spiritual thread.  A dialogue about faith – and the best place to rest faith – oneself/mankind, or God.  There are plenty of examples in the movie of those whose misplaced faith in their own/mankind’s abilities proved woefully unwarranted.  The doctor who initially developed the mutated virus which ends up turning on mankind.  Will Smith single-handedly striving to mend the wrongs that others did.  And then there’s the issue of faith in God, in the willingness and ability to listen to God as a source for direction – not in an esoteric sort of New-Agey amorphousness, but in very practical God-is-speaking-and-I-will-adjust-my-actions-accordingly. 

I come away wondering, is this what the main theme of the movie is?  It could be – but if that’s the case, it doesn’t pull it off very well.  The ending is the equivalent of amputating a body part after the prolonged effort at laying the groundwork. 

I can’t simply ignore religious/spiritual symbolism and dialogue when it occurs in movies, since this is sort of my main focus in life.  On the other hand, I dislike reading too much into a story, and it’s no fun being irritated with a writer/director for not being able (or willing) to lay the message out and tell it to conclusion.  I dislike the idea that spirituality/religion might just be another hook for the consumer – no more fulfilling or even relevant to the main feature than sex appeal or lots of explosions. 

But I gotta admit, it’s an effective hook for me where sex and explosions aren’t.  I hate to think that somebody is calculating and counting on my willingness to take their bait, searching for a meal and ending up hung out to dry instead.

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