Contents Beloved Prayers Eye On Entertainment Editorial Ask a Franciscan Links for Learners Faith-filled Family Subscribe Book Reviews
Fairy Tales Can Come True
By Sister Rose Pacatte, F.S.P.

Q U I C K S C A N


 

PETER PAN (A-2, PG): Young Wendy Darling (Rachel Hurd-Wood) tells stories about pirates to her younger brothers, John (Harry Newell) and Michael (Freddie Popplewell) every night in London. While watching the children act out the stories, their parents (Jason Isaacs, Olivia Williams) start to make plans for 12-year-old Wendy.

A young boy named Peter Pan (Jeremy Sumpter) travels far to listen to Wendy’s stories from outside. One night he sneaks through the window with a jealous fairy named Tinkerbell (Ludivine Sagnier) and loses his shadow. After Wendy sews the shadow back on for him, Peter invites her and her brothers to his home, Neverland, where no one has to grow up.

Off they fly over London’s rooftops, free from adult rules. What they get are a group of Lost Boys and friendly Indians on the light side and great adventures with scary mermaids and a gigantic crocodile with a time problem. There’s also a decidedly unpleasant and grumpy pirate with a steel claw for his hand, Captain Hook (also played by Jason Isaacs), and his unsavory band of sword-wielding pirates. Wendy must decide if she wants to grow up or not, to stay in Neverland or go home.

Australian director P.J. Hogan and Michael Goldenberg co-wrote the script and based it closely on the original play by J. M. Barrie. This year marks the centenary of its first stage production in London. For the first time a young boy has been cast in the role of Peter Pan, rather than a middle-aged woman or an animated character.

Director Hogan says that he wanted to make this real-life version because it is “thematically rich and psychologically profound.” This film is more like a traditional fairy tale than more recent Disney animated productions (e.g., mermaids and the Sirens of Greek mythology had a lot in common—they lured sailors to their death). This story, however, provides a safe space for parents and children to talk about some important life issues, including fears for the future, which will vary by family and children’s ages.

I have always believed in fairies. Do you? Adventure action sequences and peril. This version may be the best so far, despite Peter’s American accent.

BIG FISH (A-2, PG-13): As a child, Edward Bloom sees the manner of his death in the glass eye of a witch. He then spends years confined to bed because of an odd growth spurt. “If goldfish are kept in a small bowl, they will remain small. With more space, the fish can double, triple or quadruple its size,” he reads from the encyclopedia. Edward lives in his imagination and we wonder throughout the film if he becomes the fish he has read about.

When he is 18, Edward (Ewan McGregor, played by Albert Finney as he grows older) wrestles a huge fish, meets a friendly giant, visits a mythical town with its suspiciously numinous characters, joins a very odd circus and meets the love of his life, Sandra (Alison Lohman, played by Jessica Lange as she grows older). Edward greets each encounter with generosity and humanity.

As Edward nears death, his only son, Will (Billy Crudup), challenges him to “tell the truth” because he thinks his father has told him only lies. Edward always answers questions with a story, which irritates his son. Alas. Will, a reporter, doesn’t have a clue about the nature of his father’s stories and how they convey truth.

This incredibly fantastical tale falls right in the tradition, visual and fairy-tale style of director Tim Burton (Beetlejuice and Edward Scissorhands) with hints of Forrest Gump and even The Princess Bride. Watch it through a faith lens that sees Christian imagery (whether the writers and Burton intended it or not) from churches, to the sacramental signs woven throughout: the river and baptism, fidelity to marriage and the wedding ring, fire, confirmation and adulthood, reconciliation, eucharist in the sharing of food, community as church, the fish and so on.

This is the story of a father’s life. “It doesn’t make sense and most probably never happened.” Maybe, but it’s never boring! Rich imagery; a fight scene; some images of nudity.

THE LAST SAMURAI (A-3, R): Set in San Francisco in 1876, a washed-out U.S. Cavalry man who fought Indians, Nathan Algren (Tom Cruise), his former commanding officer, Col. Bagley (Tony Goldwyn) and a sergeant, Zebulon Gant (Billy Connolly), are offered non-combatant jobs by a greedy political emissary from Japan, Omura (Masato Harada). They are to modernize the emperor’s army: The Japanese soldiers will have to change from fighting with swords to fighting with guns. Algren hates Bagley because of his cruel behavior in the Indian wars. Algren hates himself even more for his own dishonorable actions.

After they arrive in Japan, Col. Bagley orders Algren to lead the men into battle against a group of insurgent samurai led by one of the emperor’s ministers, Katsumoto (Ken Watanabe). These samurai believe they are fighting on the emperor’s side against the customs and greed of Westernization that the other imperial ministers support. In battle, the new Japanese army is unprepared and Algren is captured.

As Algren recovers in the almost idyllic haven of the samurai and their families, he and Katsumoto become friends. Algren wonders about these samurai who “devote themselves utterly to a set of moral principles.” The cherry blossoms symbolize life and the hereafter.

This first-rate film will evoke comparisons with westerns, from the classic The Magnificent Seven to more contemporary releases such as Dances With Wolves. The tense early relationship between Algren and Katsumoto models the struggle within that traditional culture over gains and losses by letting in outside influences.

Even though the film shows the Japan of the 1870s dealing with the violent force of war rather than political process as the way to social change, current affairs play in our consciousness. We may legitimately ask why the cost of Westernizing the world continues to be high if it is such a good thing; why is the world always at war; and what is the role that economics play in this never-ending tragedy of globalization without guidance? The difference between the film and real life is, of course, that the movie finds some resolution. Deserves to be an Oscar contender; some battle violence and cruelty.

THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE RETURN OF THE KING (A-3, PG-13): “I cannot carry the Ring, Mr. Frodo, but I can carry you,” Sam tells his friend. These are words that may go down in cinema history because they represent the entire tale of friends who set out to save the world against immense odds.

The hobbits Frodo and Sam, along with the complex and conflicted Gollum, are almost at the Crack of Doom. Aragorn embraces his kingship, more battles are fought and won, they overcome a giant spider and their epic journey reaches its climax.

The tale comes full circle when the fellowship starts a new life after the members return from their great adventure. New Zealand director Peter Jackson’s concluding film of this literate literary trilogy, based on the work of J.R.R. Tolkien, is its heart. Well worth the 200 minutes.

MY WIFE AND KIDS (ABC, Wednesdays): Damon Wayans plays the role of Michael, an old-fashioned, pseudo-macho husband and father with three kids who handles contemporary issues with humorous angst. Though not all viewers will be comfortable with the situations or agree with the solutions, it can be very funny getting there.

GEORGE LOPEZ (ABC, Fridays): George is a manufacturing-plant manager whose home life, with wife Angie, daughter Carmen and son Max, is complicated by the interference of his tactless mom. Now in its second season, this is the only primetime network comedy series about a Latino family. Mom grates at times, but the show can be amusing.

HACK (CBS, Saturdays): This second-season crime drama is about Mike Olshansky (David Morse), a Philadelphia cop turned cab driver who goes about helping people solve personal problems and crimes in order to redeem himself. Basically a good man, Mike has lost his wife and son because of his fall from grace.

 

SOMETHING’S GOTTA GIVE (A-3, PG-13): Diane Keaton and Jack Nicholson star in this middle-age drama exploring the older man-younger woman and younger man-older woman scenarios. Nice that the characters grow and change for the better. Brief nudity, appealing romantic comedy.

THE MISSING (L, R): In New Mexico of the 1870s, a young girl is kidnapped by renegade Indian scouts who have been betrayed by the U.S. Army. Movies are not made in a cultural vacuum, and this will suggest comparisons with current affairs. Ideas in this western are in the tradition of John Ford’s The Searchers. Graphic violence.

HONEY (A-2, PG-13): A lovely story of a young urban dancer (Jessica Alba) in the South Bronx who holds on to her integrity in the music-video world and teaches children to dance at the same time. A culturally diverse cast and great dancing; for mature teens.

A-1 General patronage
A-2 Adults and adolescents
A-3 Adults
L Limited adult audience
O Morally offensive

USCCB Movie Review Line: 1-800-311-4222, www.usccb.org/movies/index.htm

At www.CatholicMovieReviews.org, readers can search Sister Rose's and hundreds of other film reviews.

 


. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Ask a Franciscan  | The Bible: Light to My Path  | Book Reviews  | Eye on Entertainment
Editorial  | Editor’s Message  | Faith-filled Family  | Links for Learners
Beloved Prayers  | Saints for Our Lives  | Web Catholic  | Back Issues


Return to AmericanCatholic.org


An AmericanCatholic.org Web Site from the Franciscans and
Franciscan Media     ©1996-2014 Copyright



 Find 
 FIND