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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Walking With Dinosaurs

By
John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service


Patchi, voiced by Justin Long, and Scowler, voiced by Skyler Stone, appear in the 3-D mostly animated adventure "Walking With Dinosaurs."
For those who can't tell a Gorgosaurus from a pterosaur, the 3-D, mostly animated adventure "Walking With Dinosaurs" (Fox) is out to set you straight.

While undeniably educational on the subject of the world's most famously extinct group of creatures, however, co-directors Barry Cook and Neil Nightingale's film is only modestly entertaining.

This fictional, big-screen successor to the 1999 BBC television documentary of the same name tells the story of an underdog Pachyrhinosaurus—literally, "thick-nosed lizard"—named Patchi (voice of Justin Long).

With the encouragement of his best friend, Alex (voice of John Leguizamo) -- a colorful prehistoric bird who narrates Patchi's tale, and that of his true love Juniper (voice of Tiya Sircar), plucky Patchi overcomes a variety of obstacles to acquire determination, loyalty and courage as his herd migrates back and forth across what is now Alaska.

The barriers standing in Patchi's path include a childhood disfigurement that draws the negative attention of some of his peers as well as the bullying ways of his domineering brother Scowler (voice of Skyler Stone).

Framing Patchi's saga are brief live-action segments that introduce us to avid archaeologist Zack (Karl Urban) and his teen nephew, Ricky (Charlie Rowe). Having outgrown his youthful enthusiasm for dinos, Ricky is bored by Zack's ongoing work with them. At least, that is, until Alex arrives on the scene to wow him with Patchi's eventful biography.

Overall, there isn't much to object to in all this, even if the special effects on display far outstrip the shopworn against-the-odds plot. Some potentially frightening situations might overwhelm the youngest moviegoers, while parents will likely sigh with resignation at the predictable smattering of mild gross-out jokes.

Along the same lines, grown-ups may also wonder why the word "butt" occurs so frequently in the dialogue, and why one character resorts to the vulgar expression "bite me." Of course, in the context of two animals talking to each other, kids may innocently interpret that as a challenge from the stronger to the weaker to do something he lacks the moxie to attempt. Adults will have to hope so.

More troubling is the fact that screenwriter John Collee's script includes the idea that whichever male becomes the leader of the pack automatically commands the companionship of its females, including, to Patchi's temporary sorrow when Scowler takes over at one point, Juniper's. However factual this may be, it seems a confusing concept to present to children, especially if they are misled by the anthropomorphized setting to imagine that it applies, to any extent, in the human realm.

The film contains some childish scatological humor and a single double entendre. The Catholic News Service classification is A-I—general patronage. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG—parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.

*****
John Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.



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John of Capistrano: It has been said the Christian saints are the world’s greatest optimists. Not blind to the existence and consequences of evil, they base their confidence on the power of Christ’s redemption. The power of conversion through Christ extends not only to sinful people but also to calamitous events. 
<p>Imagine being born in the 14th century. One-third of the population and nearly 40 percent of the clergy were wiped out by the bubonic plague. The Western Schism split the Church with two or three claimants to the Holy See at one time. England and France were at war. The city-states of Italy were constantly in conflict. No wonder that gloom dominated the spirit of the culture and the times. </p><p>John Capistrano was born in 1386. His education was thorough. His talents and success were great. When he was 26 he was made governor of Perugia. Imprisoned after a battle against the Malatestas, he resolved to change his way of life completely. At the age of 30 he entered the Franciscan novitiate and was ordained a priest four years later. </p><p>His preaching attracted great throngs at a time of religious apathy and confusion. He and 12 Franciscan brethren were received in the countries of central Europe as angels of God. They were instrumental in reviving a dying faith and devotion. </p><p>The Franciscan Order itself was in turmoil over the interpretation and observance of the Rule of St. Francis. Through John’s tireless efforts and his expertise in law, the heretical Fraticelli were suppressed and the "Spirituals" were freed from interference in their stricter observance. </p><p>He helped bring about a reunion with the Greek and Armenian Churches, unfortunately only a brief arrangement. </p><p>When the Turks captured Constantinople in 1453, he was commissioned to preach a crusade for the defense of Europe. Gaining little response in Bavaria and Austria, he decided to concentrate his efforts in Hungary. He led the army to Belgrade. Under the great General John Hunyadi, they gained an overwhelming victory, and the siege of Belgrade was lifted. Worn out by his superhuman efforts, Capistrano was an easy prey to an infection after the battle. He died October 23, 1456.</p> American Catholic Blog When we are linked by the power of prayer, we as it were, hold each other’s hand as we walk side by side along a slippery path; and thus by the bounteous disposition of charity, it comes about that the harder each one leans on the other, the more firmly we are riveted together in brotherly love. —St. Gregory the Great

 
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