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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Jack the Giant Slayer

By
John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service


Sentry Giant, a digitally animated character voiced by Peter Elliott, is seen in the movie "Jack the Giant Slayer."
Faith-tinged and fun, "Jack the Giant Slayer" (Warner Bros.) is director Bryan Singer's 3-D retelling of the classic fairy tale, into which screenwriters Christopher McQuarrie and Dan Studney blend elements of the related story "Jack and the Beanstalk."

The resulting hybrid, which also combines live action and animation, offers teens and their elders a mostly harmless adventure.

Still, the gruesome fates awaiting various bad guys, together with a touch of salty language, make this fable inappropriate fare for the smallest members of its source material's original audience.

We all know Jack (Nicholas Hoult): Absent-minded but goodhearted, he exchanges a perfectly serviceable horse for a handful of purportedly magic beans. In this version, the same trip to the market finds Jack, a mere peasant boy, falling for the plucky Princess Isabelle (Eleanor Tomlinson) who is, in turn, equally taken with him.

Their newfound romance is imperiled, however, when one of the aforesaid legumes shows that it has supernatural qualities after all. Accidentally exposed to water, it suddenly sprouts into a gigantic beanstalk, carrying poor Isabelle aloft to a land of aggressive giants.

Unfortunately for Isabelle, these outsized ogres—led by the two-headed Gen. Fallon (voice of Bill Nighy)—have a taste for human flesh. So a rescue mission is imperative.

In the course of this perilous quest, Jack gains the patronage of a chivalrous nobleman named Elmont (Ewan McGregor) who becomes his patron. But he incurs the displeasure of Roderick (Stanley Tucci), a conniving official in the court of Isabelle's father, King Brahmwell (Ian McShane).

With the cooperation of the guileless king, but much against the princess' own will, slippery Roderick has been angling for an arranged marriage with Isabelle.

In the alternate version of the Middle Ages that provides the setting for "Jack the Giant Slayer," monks and other characters freely, if only incidentally, acknowledge God. They bless themselves at times of danger and offer each other encouragement with such phrases as "May God help you."

Though the details of the overly complicated back story reveal that some monks once dabbled in the "black arts," they are said to have done so only under compulsion. Their successors are now anxious to make up for this lapse by advancing the cause of good—even at the cost of considerable sacrifice. As one of their number puts it, "We owe it to God."

The film contains scenes of bloodless but potentially disturbing violence, brief references to the occult, some mildly scatological humor and a couple of crass terms. The Catholic News Service classification is A-II—adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13—parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

*****
John Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.



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Pedro de San José Betancur: Central America claimed its first saint with the canonization of Pedro de San José Betancur by Pope John Paul II in Guatemala City on July 30, 2002. Known as the "St. Francis of the Americas," Pedro de Betancur is the first saint to have worked and died in Guatemala. 
<p>Calling the new saint an “outstanding example” of Christian mercy, the Holy Father noted that St. Pedro practiced mercy “heroically with the lowliest and the most deprived.” Speaking to the estimated 500,000 Guatemalans in attendance, the Holy Father spoke of the social ills that plague the country today and of the need for change. </p><p>“Let us think of the children and young people who are homeless or deprived of an education; of abandoned women with their many needs; of the hordes of social outcasts who live in the cities; of the victims of organized crime, of prostitution or of drugs; of the sick who are neglected and the elderly who live in loneliness,” he said in his homily during the three-hour liturgy. </p><p>Pedro very much wanted to become a priest, but God had other plans for the young man born into a poor family on Tenerife in the Canary Islands. Pedro was a shepherd until age 24, when he began to make his way to Guatemala, hoping to connect with a relative engaged in government service there. By the time he reached Havana, he was out of money. After working there to earn more, he got to Guatemala City the following year. When he arrived he was so destitute that he joined the bread line that the Franciscans had established. </p><p>Soon, Pedro enrolled in the local Jesuit college in hopes of studying for the priesthood. No matter how hard he tried, however, he could not master the material; he withdrew from school. In 1655 he joined the Secular Franciscan Order. Three years later he opened a hospital for the convalescent poor; a shelter for the homeless and a school for the poor soon followed. Not wanting to neglect the rich of Guatemala City, Pedro began walking through their part of town ringing a bell and inviting them to repent. </p><p>Other men came to share in Pedro's work. Out of this group came the Bethlehemite Congregation, which won papal approval after Pedro's death. A Bethlehemite sisters' community, similarly founded after Pedro's death, was inspired by his life of prayer and compassion. </p><p>He is sometimes credited with originating the Christmas Eve <i>posadas</i> procession in which people representing Mary and Joseph seek a night's lodging from their neighbors. The custom soon spread to Mexico and other Central American countries. </p><p>Pedro was canonized in 2002.</p> American Catholic Blog We sometimes try to do everything on our own, forgetting that the Lord wants to help us. Let's never be afraid to admit that we are weak and can't do things on our own. St. Paul gives us a great example: "On my own behalf I will not boast, except of my weaknesses" (2 Corinthians 12:5).


 
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