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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Splice

By
Joseph McAleer
Source: Catholic News Service

"Splice" (Warner Bros.) is an unintentionally amusing and not-very-scary horror film which reminds us, once again, that it's not nice to fool with Mother Nature. Though its message is ambiguous, this perverse tale of genetic engineering run amok ought to win new converts to the Catholic Church's repeated warnings that scientists should not "play God" when it comes to human cloning and procreation.

Clive (Adrien Brody) and Elsa (Sarah Polley) are partners in life and in the lab. Genetic engineers at Nucleic Exchange Research and Development (NERD for short), they specialize in "splicing" together genes from different animal species to create new life forms. Their pride and joy are "Fred" and "Ginger," bulbous blobs that may contain a new protein that will "cure" countless diseases, from Parkinson's to cancer.

Motivated by greed as a result of their partnership with wicked pharmaceutical companies, NERD's owners are delighted with these "designer species." Clive and Elsa are ready for the next step—human gene splicing—to achieve "the medical breakthrough of the century," but NERD says no, citing the "moral outrage" that would ensue.

Viewers looking for moral clarity on a timely issue will find none in "Splice," which instead waffles. "If God did not want us to explore his domain, why did he give us the map?" one scientist says. Clive is conflicted; while he admits "we changed the rules," he declares, "There are some things you just don't do!"

Elsa agrees that "human cloning is illegal," but adds, speaking of their proposed creation, "This won't be human, entirely." She, too, cites "moral considerations," saying, "People are dying now who we can give hope to."

In fact, a lot of people (including human embryos) die in "Splice," thanks to what happens once Elsa persuades Clive to proceed with the experiment. The human hybrid result, "H-50," is initially monstrous, resembling an albino guinea pig on steroids. But soon this creature (which only consumes Tic Tacs—not a good sign) morphs into the comely Dren (Delphine Chaneac). The bride of Frankenstein never looked this good, apart from chicken legs, retractable wings and a rather deadly tail.

Dren grows up at an accelerated rate, and the inevitable mother-daughter conflicts ensue, especially when the adolescent Dren, high on hormones, turns her attentions to Clive.

No wonder Clive's hard heart melts and he is now attracted to Dren—Elsa used her own genes in Dren's creation. When Clive puts on the swing music and he and Dren dance their own version of Fred and Ginger, "Splice" takes a farcical turn. What follows is outrageous and often obscene, as the four credited scriptwriters display an unhealthy obsession with human-monster copulation.

"Splice" does not wholly condemn the process or method, only the misguided result. The Catholic Church, by contrast, is unwavering on the evils of manipulating procreation by any method that involves the destruction of innocent human life or a separation of the essential unitive and procreative aspects of marital love.

The film contains a generally sympathetic presentation of human cloning, genetic engineering, and embryo destruction; nudity; nonmarital sexual activity; rape; rough language; and bloody scenes of violence and torture. The Catholic News Service classification is O—morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R—restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

*****
Joseph McAleer is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.


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Peter Canisius: The energetic life of Peter Canisius should demolish any stereotypes we may have of the life of a saint as dull or routine. Peter lived his 76 years at a pace which must be considered heroic, even in our time of rapid change. A man blessed with many talents, Peter is an excellent example of the scriptural man who develops his talents for the sake of the Lord’s work. 
<p>He was one of the most important figures in the Catholic Reformation in Germany. His was such a key role that he has often been called the “second apostle of Germany” in that his life parallels the earlier work of Boniface (June 5). </p><p>Although Peter once accused himself of idleness in his youth, he could not have been idle too long, for at the age of 19 he received a master’s degree from the university at Cologne. Soon afterwards he met Peter Faber, the first disciple of Ignatius Loyola (July 31), who influenced Peter so much that he joined the recently formed Society of Jesus. </p><p>At this early age Peter had already taken up a practice he continued throughout his life—a process of study, reflection, prayer and writing. After his ordination in 1546, he became widely known for his editions of the writings of St. Cyril of Alexandria and St. Leo the Great. Besides this reflective literary bent, Peter had a zeal for the apostolate. He could often be found visiting the sick or prisoners, even when his assigned duties in other areas were more than enough to keep most people fully occupied. </p><p>In 1547 Peter attended several sessions of the Council of Trent, whose decrees he was later assigned to implement. After a brief teaching assignment at the Jesuit college at Messina, Peter was entrusted with the mission to Germany—from that point on his life’s work. He taught in several universities and was instrumental in establishing many colleges and seminaries. He wrote a catechism that explained the Catholic faith in a way which common people could understand—a great need of that age. </p><p>Renowned as a popular preacher, Peter packed churches with those eager to hear his eloquent proclamation of the gospel. He had great diplomatic ability, often serving as a reconciler between disputing factions. In his letters (filling eight volumes) one finds words of wisdom and counsel to people in all walks of life. At times he wrote unprecedented letters of criticism to leaders of the Church—yet always in the context of a loving, sympathetic concern. </p><p>At 70 Peter suffered a paralytic seizure, but he continued to preach and write with the aid of a secretary until his death in his hometown (Nijmegen, Netherlands) on December 21, 1597.</p> American Catholic Blog While we await the full and unending experience of God drawing near to us, we must continue to work in the vineyard. We must continue to make God’s love real in every condition and circumstance of our lives.

 
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