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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Red Dawn

By
Kurt Jensen
Source: Catholic News Service


Josh Peck, Josh Hutcherson and Chris Hemsworth star in a scene from the movie "Red Dawn."
Gleefully paranoid, hyperviolent and more than a little racist, the remake "Red Dawn" (FilmDistrict) is a time-waster for the tinfoil hat set.

The 1984 original pitted American youths against invading Russkies, to use the vintage term. It played out against the "Evil Empire" stage of the Cold War—a time when the Soviet Union was actually in decline, but both nations were still aiming considerable nuclear weaponry at each other, as they had done since the 1950s.

This time, director Dan Bradley and co-writers Carl Ellsworth and Jeremy Passmore launch a North Korean air invasion on the Pacific Northwest. The monolithic but clever commies have shut down the whole power grid using some secret technology. So, no TV, Internet or radio communications, except for what can be done with batteries.

Not a problem for a bunch of plucky teens led by ex-soldier Jed (Chris Hemsworth), son of Spokane Police Chief Tom Eckert (Brett Cullen). He and brother Matt (Josh Peck) transform pals Toni (Adrianna Palicki), Robert (Josh Hutcherson), Erica (Isabel Lucas) and Daryl (Connor Cruise)—along with some others -- into a stone-cold militia equally adept as snipers, insurgents and survivalists.

The commandoes nickname themselves the Wolverines, after their high school mascot. The Wolverines torment the occupiers for a good 90 minutes but never manage to overthrow them, since they have neither the requisite numbers nor the necessary firepower. They also deal harshly with collaborators.

Aided by the Russians, the North Koreans, we learn, have parachuted in and overtaken most of the United States except for a portion from Alabama to Arizona, and Michigan to Montana. (In this milieu, they don't mess with Texas.) Evidently, the Mexicans and Canadians aren't coming to anyone's rescue, let alone those Euro-wimps from NATO.

The Koreans are handing out summary executions, and the theme of the picture is laid out when Chief Eckert has a gun held to his head by Captain Lo (Will Yun Lee), the new local prefect.

"I want you to go to war and stop this (expletive)!" Eckert shouts to his sons, whom he knows are hiding in the vicinity, "Or die trying!"

So they fight 'em in the woods, and blow 'em up downtown. The only morality consists of getting the enemy before they get you, and skin color and eye shape largely determine who's evil.

The film contains constant gun violence, occasional gore, racist characterizations, fleeting profanity and pervasive crude language. The Catholic News Service classification is L—limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13—parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

*****
Kurt Jensen is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.



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Junipero Serra: In 1776, when the American Revolution was beginning in the east, another part of the future United States was being born in California. That year a gray-robed Franciscan founded Mission San Juan Capistrano, now famous for its annually returning swallows. San Juan was the seventh of nine missions established under the direction of this indomitable Spaniard. 
<p>Born on Spain’s island of Mallorca, Serra entered the Franciscan Order, taking the name of St. Francis’ childlike companion, Brother Juniper. Until he was 35, he spent most of his time in the classroom—first as a student of theology and then as a professor. He also became famous for his preaching. Suddenly he gave it all up and followed the yearning that had begun years before when he heard about the missionary work of St. Francis Solanus in South America. Junipero’s desire was to convert native peoples in the New World. </p><p>Arriving by ship at Vera Cruz, Mexico, he and a companion walked the 250 miles to Mexico City. On the way Junipero’s left leg became infected by an insect bite and would remain a cross—sometimes life-threatening—for the rest of his life. For 18 years he worked in central Mexico and in the Baja Peninsula. He became president of the missions there. </p><p>Enter politics: the threat of a Russian invasion south from Alaska. Charles III of Spain ordered an expedition to beat Russia to the territory. So the last two <i>conquistadors</i>—one military, one spiritual—began their quest. José de Galvez persuaded Junipero to set out with him for present-day Monterey, California. The first mission founded after the 900-mile journey north was San Diego (1769). That year a shortage of food almost canceled the expedition. Vowing to stay with the local people, Junipero and another friar began a novena in preparation for St. Joseph’s day, March 19, the scheduled day of departure. On that day, the relief ship arrived. </p><p>Other missions followed: Monterey/Carmel (1770); San Antonio and San Gabriel (1771); San Luís Obispo (1772); San Francisco and San Juan Capistrano (1776); Santa Clara (1777); San Buenaventura (1782). Twelve more were founded after Serra’s death. </p><p>Junipero made the long trip to Mexico City to settle great differences with the military commander. He arrived at the point of death. The outcome was substantially what Junipero sought: the famous “Regulation” protecting the Indians and the missions. It was the basis for the first significant legislation in California, a “Bill of Rights” for Native Americans. </p><p>Because the Native Americans were living a nonhuman life from the Spanish point of view, the friars were made their legal guardians. The Native Americans were kept at the mission after Baptism lest they be corrupted in their former haunts—a move that has brought cries of “injustice” from some moderns. </p><p>Junipero’s missionary life was a long battle with cold and hunger, with unsympathetic military commanders and even with danger of death from non-Christian native peoples. Through it all his unquenchable zeal was fed by prayer each night, often from midnight till dawn. He baptized over 6,000 people and confirmed 5,000. His travels would have circled the globe. He brought the Native Americans not only the gift of faith but also a decent standard of living. He won their love, as witnessed especially by their grief at his death. He is buried at Mission San Carlo Borromeo, Carmel, and was beatified in 1988.</p> American Catholic Blog God is great. God is good. And God, in his fatherly love, has a plan for our lives that will work out for our benefit and salvation. All we have to do is trust and obey.

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CATHOLIC GREETINGS
Blessed Junipero Serra
This Franciscan friar was instrumental in founding many of California’s mission churches.

Happy Birthday
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Sts. Peter and Paul
Honored both separately and together, these apostles were probably martyred during the reign of the emperor Nero.

Wedding
Help the bride and groom see their love as a mirror of God’s love.

Our Lady of Perpetual Help
God gave Mary to us as a help in our quest for holiness.




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