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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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Gregory the Great: Coming events cast their shadows before: Gregory was the prefect of Rome before he was 30. After five years in office he resigned, founded six monasteries on his Sicilian estate and became a Benedictine monk in his own home at Rome. 
<p>Ordained a priest, he became one of the pope's seven deacons, and also served six years in the East as papal representative in Constantinople. He was recalled to become abbot, and at the age of 50 was elected pope by the clergy and people of Rome. </p><p>He was direct and firm. He removed unworthy priests from office, forbade taking money for many services, emptied the papal treasury to ransom prisoners of the Lombards and to care for persecuted Jews and the victims of plague and famine. He was very concerned about the conversion of England, sending 40 monks from his own monastery. He is known for his reform of the liturgy, for strengthening respect for doctrine. Whether he was largely responsible for the revision of "Gregorian" chant is disputed. </p><p>Gregory lived in a time of perpetual strife with invading Lombards and difficult relations with the East. When Rome itself was under attack, he interviewed the Lombard king. </p><p>An Anglican historian has written: "It is impossible to conceive what would have been the confusion, the lawlessness, the chaotic state of the Middle Ages without the medieval papacy; and of the medieval papacy, the real father is Gregory the Great." </p><p>His book, <i>Pastoral Care</i>, on the duties and qualities of a bishop, was read for centuries after his death. He described bishops mainly as physicians whose main duties were preaching and the enforcement of discipline. In his own down-to-earth preaching, Gregory was skilled at applying the daily gospel to the needs of his listeners. Called "the Great," Gregory has been given a place with Augustine (August 28), Ambrose (December 7) and Jerome (September 30)as one of the four key doctors of the Western Church.</p> American Catholic Blog Loving trust and total surrender made Our Lady say yes to the message of the angel, and cheerfulness made her run in haste to serve her cousin Elizabeth. So much in our lives, too, is saying yes to Jesus, and running haste to serve him in the poorest of the poor.  –Mother Theresa

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