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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

By
Joseph McAleer
Source: Catholic News Service


Michelangelo, Leonardo, Raphael, Donatello and actress Megan Fox as April, center, appear in the movie "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles."
Thirty years after bursting onto the comic book scene, the wise-cracking, pizza-loving "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" (Paramount) re-emerge from the sewers of New York City. Their mission, once again: to save the world.

This reboot marks the fifth film to feature the reptilian heroes, created by Peter Laird and Kevin Eastman. With Michael Bay of the "Transformers" franchise on board as producer, action and destruction (and noise level) are ramped up in vivid 3-D, with the turtles effectively rendered through live action and motion-capture technology.

Fortunately, the script, by Josh Appelbaum, Andre Nemec and Evan Daugherty, honors the ridiculousness of the subject matter and keeps tongue firmly in cheek. Director Jonathan Liebesman ("Wrath of the Titans") joins in the fun while slipping in a few good lessons about honor and family.

The backstory and mythology surrounding the Turtles are extensive, to say the least. Simply stated, there are four, each named (for no particular reason) for an Italian Renaissance artist: Leonardo (Pete Ploszek), Raphael (Alan Ritchson), Michelangelo (Noel Fisher), and Donatello (Jeremy Howard).

Products of an experiment gone wrong, they have grown into rambunctious anthropomorphic teenagers, mask-wearing 6-footers who shout "Cowabunga!" and scarf down 'za.

The turtles live beneath the Big Apple with a wise Japanese rat named Splinter (Danny Woodburn), who has trained them in the martial arts.

"My sons, you will become the warriors that legends are made of," Splinter says. "You live, you die, you fight as brothers. Remember, nothing is as strong as family."

As Leonardo admits, "We were created as weapons, and we knew the world would never accept us ... but one day, it would need us."

That day is now, for a reign of terror has gripped Gotham, thanks to the notorious Foot Clan, a seemingly invincible gang of criminals led by a razor-sharp monster appropriately dubbed Shredder (Tohoru Masamune).

At first, the turtles do battle at night, fighting the Foot Clan while protecting their identity. All that changes when April (Megan Fox), an intrepid TV reporter, stumbles upon their ninja moves.

Excited by her first big scoop, April has a hard time convincing Vern (Will Arnett), her cameraman, and Bernadette (Whoopi Goldberg), her skeptical boss, of the turtles' existence.

So she turns to an old family friend, billionaire industrialist Eric Sacks (William Fichtner), for help. He's a scientist, with more than a passing interest in mutated reptiles -- and a wicked secret alliance with Shredder for (of course) world domination.

If it all sounds silly, it is, and "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" is more thrill-ride than serious drama. As such, the action sequences may be too intense (and loud) for young viewers. Everyone else, however, will have a ball careening down sewer tunnels as though they were water slides on steroids.

The film contains intense but bloodless cartoon violence, some bathroom humor, and a few vague references to sexuality. 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.

*****
Joseph McAleer is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.



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Pedro de San José Betancur: Central America claimed its first saint with the canonization of Pedro de San José Betancur by Pope John Paul II in Guatemala City on July 30, 2002. Known as the "St. Francis of the Americas," Pedro de Betancur is the first saint to have worked and died in Guatemala. 
<p>Calling the new saint an “outstanding example” of Christian mercy, the Holy Father noted that St. Pedro practiced mercy “heroically with the lowliest and the most deprived.” Speaking to the estimated 500,000 Guatemalans in attendance, the Holy Father spoke of the social ills that plague the country today and of the need for change. </p><p>“Let us think of the children and young people who are homeless or deprived of an education; of abandoned women with their many needs; of the hordes of social outcasts who live in the cities; of the victims of organized crime, of prostitution or of drugs; of the sick who are neglected and the elderly who live in loneliness,” he said in his homily during the three-hour liturgy. </p><p>Pedro very much wanted to become a priest, but God had other plans for the young man born into a poor family on Tenerife in the Canary Islands. Pedro was a shepherd until age 24, when he began to make his way to Guatemala, hoping to connect with a relative engaged in government service there. By the time he reached Havana, he was out of money. After working there to earn more, he got to Guatemala City the following year. When he arrived he was so destitute that he joined the bread line that the Franciscans had established. </p><p>Soon, Pedro enrolled in the local Jesuit college in hopes of studying for the priesthood. No matter how hard he tried, however, he could not master the material; he withdrew from school. In 1655 he joined the Secular Franciscan Order. Three years later he opened a hospital for the convalescent poor; a shelter for the homeless and a school for the poor soon followed. Not wanting to neglect the rich of Guatemala City, Pedro began walking through their part of town ringing a bell and inviting them to repent. </p><p>Other men came to share in Pedro's work. Out of this group came the Bethlehemite Congregation, which won papal approval after Pedro's death. A Bethlehemite sisters' community, similarly founded after Pedro's death, was inspired by his life of prayer and compassion. </p><p>He is sometimes credited with originating the Christmas Eve <i>posadas</i> procession in which people representing Mary and Joseph seek a night's lodging from their neighbors. The custom soon spread to Mexico and other Central American countries. </p><p>Pedro was canonized in 2002.</p> American Catholic Blog We sometimes try to do everything on our own, forgetting that the Lord wants to help us. Let's never be afraid to admit that we are weak and can't do things on our own. St. Paul gives us a great example: "On my own behalf I will not boast, except of my weaknesses" (2 Corinthians 12:5).


 
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