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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Legion

By
John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service

"Come, ye children, hearken unto me: I will teach you the fear of the Lord."

This verse from the King James Version's translation of Psalm 34 opens—and is intended to set the tone for—the theologically skewed apocalyptic horror outing "Legion" (Screen Gems). But, as the next hour-and-a-half of screen time makes abundantly clear, director and co-writer (with Peter Schink) Scott Stewart's feature debut portrays the fear of the Lord in a very different manner than either the psalmist or the writers of Scripture in general.

Rather than the reverential submission due to a mighty but benevolent God, the emotion aimed at here seems to be the kind of frenzy which an all-powerful heaven-dwelling terrorist might produce. Thus the script takes for its premise that God has despaired of humanity's future and has unleashed hordes of demonic angels—not to mention pestilential swarms of insects—to destroy civilization and wipe out Earth's entire population.

But the archangel Michael (Paul Bettany) rebels against this petulant plan.

Knowing that Charlie (Adrianne Palicki), the lone waitress at a remote roadside cafe in the Mojave Desert, is pregnant (though unmarried) with a child who alone can save humanity, Michael sets out to defend the place against the repeated attacks of his fellow angels—who have, by now, taken possession of crowds of human beings, transforming them into zombielike killing machines—long enough for her to give birth.

And just when is Charlie's due date? Dec. 25, naturally.

Michael enlists the help of the eatery's owners, religious skeptic Bob (Dennis Quaid) and Bible believer Percy (Charles S. Dutton), Bob's gentle son Jeep (Lucas Black)—who humbly nurses a forlorn, all-accepting love for Charlie—and just-passing-through customer Kyle (Tyrese Gibson).

What follows is a long, grim slog that intersperses relentless, though only occasionally gory, violence with metaphysical mush. Despite a brief passage of dialogue about Charlie's experience in an abortion mill that can be read as conveying a pro-life message, the wearisome proceedings overall leave viewers feeling as besieged as the characters in that lonesome greasy spoon.

The film contains convoluted religious themes; constant, though mostly nongraphic, violence; an out-of-wedlock pregnancy; a couple of uses of profanity; much rough language (including at least 25 uses of the F-word); and some crude and crass terms. The USCCB Office for Film & Broadcasting classification is O—morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R—restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

*****
John Mulderig is on the staff of the Office for Film & Broadcasting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.


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John Paul II: “Open wide the doors to Christ,” urged John Paul II during the homily at the Mass when he was installed as pope in 1978. <br /><br />Born in Wadowice, Poland, Karol Jozef Wojtyla had lost his mother, father and older brother before his 21st birthday. Karol’s promising academic career at Krakow’s Jagiellonian University was cut short by the outbreak of World War II. While working in a quarry and a chemical factory, he enrolled in an “underground” seminary in Kraków. Ordained in 1946, he was immediately sent to Rome where he earned a doctorate in theology. <br /><br />Back in Poland, a short assignment as assistant pastor in a rural parish preceded his very fruitful chaplaincy for university students. Soon he earned a doctorate in philosophy and began teaching that subject at Poland’s University of Lublin. <br /><br />Communist officials allowed him to be appointed auxiliary bishop of Kraków in 1958, considering him a relatively harmless intellectual. They could not have been more wrong! <br /><br />He attended all four sessions of Vatican II and contributed especially to its <em>Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World</em>. Appointed as archbishop of Kraków in 1964, he was named a cardinal three years later. <br /><br />Elected pope in October 1978, he took the name of his short-lived, immediate predecessor. Pope John Paul II was the first non-Italian pope in 455 years. In time, he made pastoral visits to 124 countries, including several with small Christian populations. <br /><br />He promoted ecumenical and interfaith initiatives, especially the 1986 Day of Prayer for World Peace in Assisi. He visited Rome’s Main Synagogue and the Western Wall in Jerusalem; he also established diplomatic relations between the Holy See and Israel. He improved Catholic-Muslim relations and in 2001 visited a mosque in Damascus, Syria. <br /><br />The Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, a key event in John Paul’s ministry, was marked by special celebrations in Rome and elsewhere for Catholics and other Christians. Relations with the Orthodox Churches improved considerably during his ministry as pope. <br /><br />“Christ is the center of the universe and of human history” was the opening line of his 1979 encyclical, <em>Redeemer of the Human Race</em>. In 1995, he described himself to the United Nations General Assembly as “a witness to hope.” <br /><br />His 1979 visit to Poland encouraged the growth of the Solidarity movement there and the collapse of communism in central and eastern Europe 10 years later. He began World Youth Day and traveled to several countries for those celebrations. He very much wanted to visit China and the Soviet Union but the governments in those countries prevented that. <br /><br />One of the most well-remembered photos of his pontificate was his one-on-one conversation in 1983 with Mehmet Ali Agca, who had attempted to assassinate him two years earlier. <br /><br />In his 27 years of papal ministry, John Paul II wrote 14 encyclicals and five books, canonized 482 saints and beatified 1,338 people. <br /><br />In the last years of his life, he suffered from Parkinson’s disease and was forced to cut back on some of his activities. <br /><br />Pope Benedict XVI beatified John Paul II in 2011, and Pope Francis canonized him in 2014. American Catholic Blog Lord, may I have balance and measure in everything—except in Love. —St. Josemaría Escrivá

 
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