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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Jack the Giant Slayer

By
John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service


Sentry Giant, a digitally animated character voiced by Peter Elliott, is seen in the movie "Jack the Giant Slayer."
Faith-tinged and fun, "Jack the Giant Slayer" (Warner Bros.) is director Bryan Singer's 3-D retelling of the classic fairy tale, into which screenwriters Christopher McQuarrie and Dan Studney blend elements of the related story "Jack and the Beanstalk."

The resulting hybrid, which also combines live action and animation, offers teens and their elders a mostly harmless adventure.

Still, the gruesome fates awaiting various bad guys, together with a touch of salty language, make this fable inappropriate fare for the smallest members of its source material's original audience.

We all know Jack (Nicholas Hoult): Absent-minded but goodhearted, he exchanges a perfectly serviceable horse for a handful of purportedly magic beans. In this version, the same trip to the market finds Jack, a mere peasant boy, falling for the plucky Princess Isabelle (Eleanor Tomlinson) who is, in turn, equally taken with him.

Their newfound romance is imperiled, however, when one of the aforesaid legumes shows that it has supernatural qualities after all. Accidentally exposed to water, it suddenly sprouts into a gigantic beanstalk, carrying poor Isabelle aloft to a land of aggressive giants.

Unfortunately for Isabelle, these outsized ogres—led by the two-headed Gen. Fallon (voice of Bill Nighy)—have a taste for human flesh. So a rescue mission is imperative.

In the course of this perilous quest, Jack gains the patronage of a chivalrous nobleman named Elmont (Ewan McGregor) who becomes his patron. But he incurs the displeasure of Roderick (Stanley Tucci), a conniving official in the court of Isabelle's father, King Brahmwell (Ian McShane).

With the cooperation of the guileless king, but much against the princess' own will, slippery Roderick has been angling for an arranged marriage with Isabelle.

In the alternate version of the Middle Ages that provides the setting for "Jack the Giant Slayer," monks and other characters freely, if only incidentally, acknowledge God. They bless themselves at times of danger and offer each other encouragement with such phrases as "May God help you."

Though the details of the overly complicated back story reveal that some monks once dabbled in the "black arts," they are said to have done so only under compulsion. Their successors are now anxious to make up for this lapse by advancing the cause of good—even at the cost of considerable sacrifice. As one of their number puts it, "We owe it to God."

The film contains scenes of bloodless but potentially disturbing violence, brief references to the occult, some mildly scatological humor and a couple of crass terms. The Catholic News Service classification is A-II—adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13—parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

*****
John Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.





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Monica: The circumstances of St. Monica’s life could have made her a nagging wife, a bitter daughter-in-law and a despairing parent, yet she did not give way to any of these temptations. Although she was a Christian, her parents gave her in marriage to a pagan, Patricius, who lived in her hometown of Tagaste in North Africa. Patricius had some redeeming features, but he had a violent temper and was licentious. Monica also had to bear with a cantankerous mother-in-law who lived in her home. Patricius criticized his wife because of her charity and piety, but always respected her. Monica’s prayers and example finally won her husband and mother-in-law to Christianity. Her husband died in 371, one year after his baptism. 
<p>Monica had at least three children who survived infancy. The oldest, Augustine (August 28) , is the most famous. At the time of his father’s death, Augustine was 17 and a rhetoric student in Carthage. Monica was distressed to learn that her son had accepted the Manichean heresy (all flesh is evil)  and was living an immoral life. For a while, she refused to let him eat or sleep in her house. Then one night she had a vision that assured her Augustine would return to the faith. From that time on, she stayed close to her son, praying and fasting for him. In fact, she often stayed much closer than Augustine wanted. </p><p>When he was 29, Augustine decided to go to Rome to teach rhetoric. Monica was determined to go along. One night he told his mother that he was going to the dock to say goodbye to a friend. Instead, he set sail for Rome. Monica was heartbroken when she learned of Augustine’s trick, but she still followed him. She arrived in Rome only to find that he had left for Milan. Although travel was difficult, Monica pursued him to Milan. </p><p>In Milan, Augustine came under the influence of the bishop, St. Ambrose, who also became Monica’s spiritual director. She accepted his advice in everything and had the humility to give up some practices that had become second nature to her (see Quote, below). Monica became a leader of the devout women in Milan as she had been in Tagaste. </p><p>She continued her prayers for Augustine during his years of instruction. At Easter, 387, St. Ambrose baptized Augustine and several of his friends. Soon after, his party left for Africa. Although no one else was aware of it, Monica knew her life was near the end. She told Augustine, “Son, nothing in this world now affords me delight. I do not know what there is now left for me to do or why I am still here, all my hopes in this world being now fulfilled.” She became ill shortly after and suffered severely for nine days before her death. </p><p>Almost all we know about St. Monica is in the writings of St. Augustine, especially his <i>Confessions</i>.</p> American Catholic Blog The Church really is my mother, too. She isn’t a vague maternal force for a generic collection of anonymous people. This Mother truly nurtures us—each one of us. And for those of us who are baptized Christians, the Church has actually given birth to us on a spiritual level.

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