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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Robocop

By
Joseph McAleer
Source: Catholic News Service


Joel Kinnaman stars in Columbia Pictures' "Robocop."
Man and machine merge—for the fourth time—in "Robocop" (Columbia), the latest installment in the science-fiction franchise.

Not surprisingly, this remake serves up some of the mindless mayhem and gratuitous violence of the 1987 original, which has become a cult classic. But in this go-round, it's not all blood and guts. Director Jose Padilha ("Secrets of the Tribe") has also crafted a clever action thriller with timely messages about greed, corruption, and the dangers of playing God.

In the year 2028, the world is at peace, thanks to an army of robots which patrols hotspots overseas. Their manufacturer, the Detroit-based conglomerate OmniCorp, touts the advantage of their product: American lives are no longer sacrificed in wars for the cause of freedom.

The only place OmniCorp's bots are not welcome is at home; they're banned from policing by an act of Congress. Americans are "robo-phobic" (rightly so), suspicious of machines that cannot "feel" and that, therefore, are unlikely to value human life properly.

Score one for Congress. But, alas, corrupt politicians can be bought, and laws changed. Such is the goal of wicked OmniCorp CEO Raymond Sellars (Michael Keaton). He's convinced that a meld of human and robot would make at least partially mechanical cops more palatable to Americans, thereby enriching OmniCorp beyond its wildest dreams.

"Americans want a product with a conscience," he says.

Sellars persuades his reluctant lead scientist, Dr. Dennett Norton (Gary Oldman), to find the solution -- and a human guinea pig. Enter Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman), loving family man and honest cop fighting crime and corruption on the mean streets of the Motor City.

When Alex runs afoul of the mob and is critically injured in a bomb attack, he is transported to Dr. Norton's lab. Alex's hysterical wife, Clara (Abbie Cornish), thinking she will get her husband back in one piece, consents to his transformation. The result: Alex becomes Iron Man—make that Robocop—and a new crime-fighting mechanism is born.

"Robocop" barrels down a predictable road as Alex's handlers discover that their creation has a mind of his own—and an agenda not necessarily to their liking. Alex struggles with his new identity and longs to return to the family fold.

But first, old scores must be settled and justice served, all under the watchful eye of smarmy tabloid-news program host Pat Novak (Samuel L. Jackson).

"This is the future of American justice!" Novak intones, as another baddie bites the dust.

The film contains intense action violence, including gunplay, and some profane and rough language. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III—adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13—parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

*****
McAleer is a guest reviewer for 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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