It's not a journey on which most viewers will enjoy accompanying him. Think lions and tigers and bears sounded bad? How about poisonous leeches, a polluted atmosphere requiring inhaler hits every few hours and a ticked-off raptor with the approximate wingspan of a 707? As for a purely fictional breed of snarling monsters that prey on human fear – called the Ursa – the less said about them the better.
The filial relationship at the heart of the proceedings – Cypher allowed Kitai to tag along on the expedition in the first place so the two could bond – is ultimately characterized by self-sacrificing love. This, despite the emotional conflict resulting from a family tragedy we glimpse in flashbacks.
But the warrior code by which Cypher lives – and which he strives to instill in Kitai – seems to have more in common with Zen Buddhism than with the values promoted in Scripture.
Thus Cypher repeatedly insists that Kitai become intensely focused on, aware of, and at one with his surroundings. And the only way to overcome those pesky Ursa is to "ghost," that is, to render yourself entirely free of fear.
The script's glib portrayal of the bonds uniting veterans, moreover, will strike at least some moviegoers as either jingoistic or exploitative.
The film contains much action violence, some of it bloody, gory medical images, a stifled crude term and a few mildly crass expressions. 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.
Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.