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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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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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