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Reel Time

Reel Time


Tilikum, a longtime star of SeaWorld, is an orca that was captured near Iceland in 1983 at about 3 years of age. During these 30 years in captivity, Tilikum has killed three people and seriously injured another.

Blackfish is a documentary by director Gabriela Cowperthwaite that traces the origins and development of Tilikum’s aggressive behavior and asks probing questions about the morality of capturing and keeping wild animals for entertainment and profit.

Through interviews with former SeaWorld trainers and witnesses of those tragic events, the filmmakers weave the background story and enhance these accounts through compelling video footage of how orcas are captured and family groups separated, as well as the strident living conditions of these majestic animals. Cowperthwaite likens the existence of orcas in captivity to that of a human forced to live out his or her life in a bathtub.

The film reveals that SeaWorld teaches visitors that orcas live longer in captivity, when it is a known fact they do not. This calls into question the park’s entire educational program and reveals the consequences of keeping wild animals in confinement. In the wild, the dorsal fins of orcas stand tall. In captivity, they flop.

Blackfish should be seen, if not for the sake of the captive animals and the trainers who work with them, then for the children in your life. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that our dominion over “other living beings granted by the Creator is not absolute . . . it requires a religious respect for the integrity of creation” (2415).

Not yet rated, PG-13 ■ Peril, violent images.

Man of Steel

A woman on the planet Krypton gives birth to a child. She, along with the father, Jor-El (Russell Crowe), places the child into a capsule bound for earth so that he can be saved from certain death on their planet.

We see Clark as a child fending off a bully and trying not to strike out as his devoted mother (Diane Lane) calms him down. His father, Jonathan (Kevin Costner), advises the boy not to display his powers because people will not understand.

As a young man, Clark (Henry Cavill), working on a deep-sea fishing boat in Arctic waters, astonishes everyone when he rescues workers on an offshore drilling platform. Later, at his job in a bar, he defends a waitress from the unwanted attention of a truck driver. His powers are developing.

When US radar discovers what seems like a Soviet-era submarine encased in ice in the Canadian arctic, two things happen: a reporter from the Daily Planet, Lois Lane (Amy Adams), comes poking around the military camp, and beings from the former planet Krypton get a signal from the vessel that starts a long adventure of discovery for Clark, the military, and his father’s old adversary General Zod (Michael Shannon).

Man of Steel could have lost 20 minutes and two action sequences without diminishing the story. Themes of genocide, genetic manipulation, racism, and what it means to be human—as well as images of Christianity as counterpoints—are meaningfully woven throughout the nonlinear narrative.

The scenes of destruction from a super tornado and airplanes purposefully crashing into skyscrapers will distress some, while the excess of military and fantasy violence will concern others. A-III , PG-13 ■ Peril, violence.

Now You See Me

“The first rule of magic is to always be the smartest guy in the room” is a mantra that four talented and ambitious magicians keep repeating in director Louis Leterrier’s new film

Now You See Me, cowritten by Ed Solomon, Boaz Yakin, and Edward Ricourt. Michael (Jesse Eisenberg) and Henley (Isla Fisher) used to work together before going their separate ways, but find work entertaining people with their magic. Jack (Dave Franco) and Merritt (Woody Harrelson) take a seedier approach to their profession.

Each of them receives a tarot card inviting them to an apartment in Manhattan. From an unknown person, they receive directions for their next act as a team: the Four Horsemen. Their first act is in Las Vegas, then New Orleans, and with a mega-watt culmination in New York. Now You See Me is an action film with some excellent sleight-of-hand tricks and commentary on unpunished greed for deeds perpetrated by banks and insurance companies in recent years. It’s a heist film, but it is challenging to follow all the ins and outs. Still, the film is entertaining.

The Four Horsemen are undoubtedly an allusion to those harbingers of justice described in the Book of Revelation 6:1–8. A-III, PG-13 ■ Language, peril, sexual references.