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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Super 8

By
John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service

Perhaps a fitting alternative title for "Super 8" (Paramount) -- writer-director J.J. Abrams' able blend of nostalgia, drama and sci-fi thrills -- might be "Stand By Me Meets Godzilla."

Like its 1986 predecessor, in which a quartet of boys from rural Oregon set off through the woods in search of a rumored corpse, this is a look at youthful enthusiasm and the ties of friendship set against a background of ominous events.

Here the friends are a half-dozen teens from a rustbelt town in 1979 Ohio whose love of movies has prompted them to use the eponymous technology to produce a zombie flick they hope eventually to enter in a local festival.

Presiding over their endearingly amateur endeavor is would-be auteur Charles (Riley Griffiths). Charles' dictatorial tendencies on set are echoed in everyday life by his bossiness toward his best buddy (and makeup artist) Joe, played by Joel Courtney.

Joe's involvement in the project helps distract him from his strained relationship with his recently widowed father Jack (Kyle Chandler), the deputy sheriff of the area's police force, as well as from his own unresolved grief over the loss of his thoroughly devoted mom.

Charles' relentless search for "production values" leads his team—which also includes withdrawn but comely fellow student Alice (Elle Fanning) in the role of heroine—to a nearby railroad station for a clandestine midnight shoot. But things take an unexpected turn when they witness -- and their camera captures -- a mysterious train accident.

Though the military arrives in force the next morning, trying to conceal the truth about the incident, the wreck sets in motion a series of odd and portentous happenings Jack is determined to investigate.

Gently handled themes of bereavement, first love and family reconciliation, meanwhile, add depth to this wry horror homage as Joe and Alice (the latter, we learn, has domestic troubles of her own) form a touching bond through their shared vulnerabilities.

These romantic elements are kept enjoyably innocent. But the steady saltiness of the onscreen ensemble's vocabulary makes "Super 8" unsuitable viewing for their real-world contemporaries. That's too bad because there's much on offer here from which younger viewers might otherwise profit.

The film contains much action violence with some gore, drug use and references, several instances of profanity as well as at least one rough and many crude terms. 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.


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Lorenzo Ruiz and Companions: Lawrence (Lorenzo) was born in Manila of a Chinese father and a Filipino mother, both Christians. Thus he learned Chinese and Tagalog from them and Spanish from the Dominicans whom he served as altar boy and sacristan. He became a professional calligrapher, transcribing documents in beautiful penmanship. He was a full member of the Confraternity of the Holy Rosary under Dominican auspices. He married and had two sons and a daughter. 
<p>His life took an abrupt turn when he was accused of murder. Nothing further is known except the statement of two Dominicans that "he was sought by the authorities on account of a homicide to which he was present or which was attributed to him." </p><p>At that time three Dominican priests, Antonio Gonzalez, Guillermo Courtet and Miguel de Aozaraza, were about to sail to Japan in spite of a violent persecution there. With them was a Japanese priest, Vicente Shiwozuka de la Cruz, and a layman named Lazaro, a leper. Lorenzo, having taken asylum with them, was allowed to accompany them. But only when they were at sea did he learn that they were going to Japan. </p><p>They landed at Okinawa. Lorenzo could have gone on to Formosa, but, he reported, "I decided to stay with the Fathers, because the Spaniards would hang me there." In Japan they were soon found out, arrested and taken to Nagasaki. The site of wholesale bloodshed when the atomic bomb was dropped had known tragedy before. The 50,000 Catholics who once lived there were dispersed or killed by persecution. </p><p>They were subjected to an unspeakable kind of torture: After huge quantities of water were forced down their throats, they were made to lie down. Long boards were placed on their stomachs and guards then stepped on the ends of the boards, forcing the water to spurt violently from mouth, nose and ears. </p><p>The superior, Antonio, died after some days. Both the Japanese priest and Lazaro broke under torture, which included the insertion of bamboo needles under their fingernails. But both were brought back to courage by their companions. </p><p>In Lorenzo's moment of crisis, he asked the interpreter, "I would like to know if, by apostatizing, they will spare my life." The interpreter was noncommittal, but Lorenzo, in the ensuing hours, felt his faith grow strong. He became bold, even audacious, with his interrogators. </p><p>The five were put to death by being hanged upside down in pits. Boards fitted with semicircular holes were fitted around their waists and stones put on top to increase the pressure. They were tightly bound, to slow circulation and prevent a speedy death. They were allowed to hang for three days. By that time Lorenzo and Lazaro were dead. The three Dominican priests, still alive, were beheaded. </p><p>In 1987, Blessed John Paul II canonized these six and 10 others, Asians and Europeans, men and women, who spread the faith in the Philippines, Formosa and Japan. Lorenzo Ruiz is the first canonized Filipino martyr.</p> American Catholic Blog We don’t have to scrub off our sin so God can love us. Instead, when we allow God’s healing love to touch us, we want to leave sin behind. Growth starts in love, not in guilt.

 
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