NEW YORK (CNS) — Surf’s up — way, way up — in Chasing Mavericks (Fox), a thrilling action film about daredevil surfers who take on some of the biggest waves in the world, while rebuilding their own broken lives in the process.
The picture also offers viewers — particularly teens — a refreshingly positive role model in the person of a young man who, despite a mountain of obstacles, inspires others with his inherent sense of goodness, perseverance and self-discipline.
Jointly directed by Curtis Hansen and Michael Apted, Chasing Mavericks is based on the true story of Californian Jay Moriarity (Jonny Weston). At the tender age of 15, Jay attempted to surf the Mavericks, a famously formidable coastal spot located near the Golden State’s Half Moon Bay.
Jay is shown to have the weight of the world on his young shoulders. His father has moved out, and his depressed mother, Kristy (Elisabeth Shue), is a drunken mess. Summoning a maturity beyond his years, Jay must act as parent and breadwinner, sobering his mother up for job interviews while working overtime at a pizza parlor to make ends meet.
Compounding his problems is the situation at his high school, where he is bullied for being poor, and can’t seem to catch the eye of pretty schoolmate Kim (Leven Rambin).
And yet Jay keeps turning the other cheek and looking ahead, leaving his peers puzzled. “You always smile,” Kim tells him. “You only see the good in everything.”
What keeps Jay going — and makes others jealous — is his natural gift for surfing. The water transforms him in a baptismal way, fuelling Jay’s desire to use his God-given talents for the betterment of others. Thus it’s no surprise that at one point we see him floating underwater, arms outstretched in a pose that suggests the role of a redeemer.
Jay finds a kindred spirit in his next-door neighbour, Frosty Hesson (Gerard Butler). He’s the ultimate surfer dude who has family issues of his own. His wife, Brenda (Abigail Spencer), prays that Frosty will eventually accept responsibility and become a better husband and father.
Frosty’s obsession with the Mavericks rubs off on Jay, and after much pestering, he agrees to train the teen in the art of big wave surfing. Frosty becomes Yoda to Jay’s Luke Skywalker, teaching him the “four pillars of a solid human foundation” — physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.
Chasing Mavericks features some spectacular cinematography, placing audiences on the surfboard and above and under the waves. Surfing becomes much more than a sport, as the duo learns to overcome fears, face grief, resolve conflicts, and rebuild relationships.
Not surprisingly, “Live like Jay” has become a popular motto among surfers; perhaps now it will catch on with moviegoers as well.
The film contains intense sports scenes and some emotionally challenging
moments. The Catholic News Service classification is A-II — adults
and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is
PG — parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable
NEW YORK (CNS) — Does hell exist? If it does, what do those who have been consigned there experience? Will the damned remain in hell forever or will they eventually be released? These are some of the questions raised in the thought-provoking documentary Hellbound? (Area23a).
Filmmaker Kevin Miller interviews writers, theologians, ministers and even some heavy-metal rock musicians, eliciting — predictably enough — a wide variety of viewpoints.
Among those who acknowledge the existence of an afterlife, three primary outlooks, we learn, have traditionally prevailed. Some hold that hell is a place of eternal conscious torment. Others claim that those souls barred from entering heaven simply cease to exist, a position known as annihilationism. So-called universalists, by contrast, believe that God will eventually save all human beings, so that, even if there is a hell, it constitutes only a temporary experience, like purgatory.
Miller’s focus is mostly on the debate about this subject within the evangelical community, which has seen eternal-torment literalists denouncing universalism as a heretical contradiction of Scripture.
The Catholic standpoint is ably, albeit briefly, presented by Boston College professor — and celebrated apologist — Peter Kreeft: The church affirms the existence of hell, its eternity and the peril it poses to those who persistently reject God’s love in this life (Catechism of the Catholic Church, section 1035). Yet the secret workings of repentance are such that the church asserts no definitive judgment as to the eternal damnation of any given individual, even the great monsters of history.
Thus, as Kreeft points out, Catholics can hope for a universalist outcome but can never be certain of it.
Both Kreeft and Orthodox Archbishop Lazar Puhalo of Ottawa, Ont. — who conveys the Eastern Christian view — come across as more reflective and humane than some of the hard-line Protestant fundamentalists with whom Miller talks — and with whom he clearly disagrees.
Miller goes to the fringes at both extremes. He chats with the aforementioned head-bangers, who casually side with Satan; and he debates members of the infamous Westboro Baptist Church, a sect that has stirred nationwide revulsion with its hate-mongering protests. Asked what percentage of people will wind up in everlasting horror, one Westboro picketer cheerfully replies, “99.99999 per cent.”
Along with the obvious issue of its potentially upsetting theme, some less than kid-friendly images and words make this intelligent exploration of a weighty subject suitable for grown-ups only.
The film contains a brief act of blasphemy as well as a few rough and
crude terms. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III — adults.
Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America.
Silent Hill: Revelation 3D
NEW YORK (CNS) — Early on in the dopey horror sequel Silent Hill: Revelation 3D (Open Road), one character admonishes another: “Don’t go to Silent Hill!” That’s sound advice.
With its messy mythos, uninteresting characters and cliched imagery — an insane asylum, check, a ruined amusement park, check — writer-director Michael J. Bassett’s followup to 2006’s Silent Hill is as stiff as its innumerable corpses. While not as blood-soaked as the worst in the genre, moreover, his movie also features an excess of gory wounds and severed limbs.
Based, like its predecessor, on a series of video games, the film follows the tormented adventures of a teen girl whose name may or may not be Heather Mason (Adelaide Clemens). Together with her widowed father Christopher (Sean Bean), Heather is a fugitive from the pestering attentions of a pack of demons who reside, apparently, in the ghost town of the title.
When Dad disappears, abducted by same, Heather gains the aid of admiring school chum Vincent (Kit Harington) as she journeys to the haunted locale. There she hopes to rescue papa and solve the mystery of her cursed identity.
The convoluted backstory contains some passing quasi-religious references to “the god” as well as to Heather’s potential role as a “saviour.” And outside the aforementioned loony bin there’s a figure who, for no very apparent reason, has been crucified. But viewers may be too busy wondering why one of the residents of Silent Hill — a sword-wielding giant — has his head jammed inside a wedge of metal shaped like a slice of Brie to notice.
At one point in her wanderings, Heather encounters a nude female whom the demons are about to transform into a mannequin — but not, of course, before the audience gets a glimpse of her still-human torso. That bit of peek-a-boo aside, though, the sexual content is minimal. Heather and Vincent share a Bates Motel-like room together, but they behave themselves perfectly.
Not so the baddies chasing Heather; they maim the extras and burn them alive, and heads literally roll.
So too, no doubt, on the other side of the screen, will eyes.
The film contains much gruesome violence, including torture and dismemberment,
brief upper female nudity, at least one use of profanity and occasional
rough and crude language. 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.
NEW YORK (CNS) — The Halloween-themed teen comedy Fun Size (Paramount) offers some enjoyable humour and a pleasingly innocent central romance based on interior virtues rather than mere physical attraction.
But these melodious qualities are drowned out, in director Josh Schwartz’s film, by discordant notes that bar endorsement for the targeted age group.
Slightly nerdy Cleveland high school senior Wren (Victoria Justice) anticipates the time of her life when she and her best friend, April (Jane Levy), manage to get themselves invited to the big costume party being thrown by popular jock Aaron (Thomas McDonell). Handsome Aaron is, of course, the man of Wren’s dreams, though she may have to take a number where that’s concerned.
Parents being what they are, however, Wren’s widowed mom, Joy (Chelsea Handler), messes everything up at the last moment by forcing Wren to take her mischievous eight-year-old brother, Albert (Jackson Nicoll), trick-or-treating. And things go from bad to worse when the two siblings accidentally become separated.
Wren turns to two geeky schoolmates, Roosevelt (Thomas Mann) and Peng (Osric Chau), to help find the missing lad. (For all his awkwardness, Roosevelt, it seems, owns a car.) Together with April — who has proven her loyalty to Wren by accompanying her while she babysits Albert — they set off on the search. But their odyssey soon descends into farce.
There are some legitimate laughs to be had along the way, especially thanks to Thomas Middleditch in the role of Fuzzy, a slacker store clerk who crosses paths with, and befriends, errant Albert. But a stop at Roosevelt’s house to get the car reveals that he — like Heather — has two mommies. Though Roosevelt’s traveling companions are momentarily taken aback, there’s swift and genial acceptance of the situation by all concerned.
Treated with equal good humour, in screenwriter Max Werner’s script, is a climactic — though off-screen — encounter between two of its more prominent characters. We’re meant to be amused when the unlikely pair wakes up together the morning after Halloween, despite the fact that, being Wren’s contemporaries, they may well still be minors.
Some ambiguity is applied to the scene — they’re fully clothed and have slept on a couch. But whatever has gone on that seems to have left them all smiles, we’d suggest they’re not yet the size — or in the proper estate — for that kind of fun.
The film contains a frivolous treatment of homosexuality, adult cohabitation,
implied non-marital — and possibly underage — sexual activity,
obscured rear and partial nudity, some sexual and scatological humour,
at least one use of profanity, and a few crude and crass 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.
Copyright (c) 2012 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops