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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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Maria Goretti: One of the largest crowds ever assembled for a canonization—250,000—symbolized the reaction of millions touched by the simple story of Maria Goretti. 
<p>She was the daughter of a poor Italian tenant farmer, had no chance to go to school, never learned to read or write. When she made her First Communion not long before her death at age 12, she was one of the larger and somewhat backward members of the class. </p><p>On a hot afternoon in July, Maria was sitting at the top of the stairs of her house, mending a shirt. She was not quite 12 years old, but physically mature. A cart stopped outside, and a neighbor, Alessandro, 18 years old, ran up the stairs. He seized her and pulled her into a bedroom. She struggled and tried to call for help. “No, God does not wish it," she cried out. "It is a sin. You would go to hell for it.” Alessandro began striking at her blindly with a long dagger. </p><p>She was taken to a hospital. Her last hours were marked by the usual simple compassion of the good—concern about where her mother would sleep, forgiveness of her murderer (she had been in fear of him, but did not say anything lest she cause trouble to his family) and her devout welcoming of Viaticum, her last Holy Communion. She died about 24 hours after the attack. </p><p>Her murderer was sentenced to 30 years in prison. For a long time he was unrepentant and surly. One night he had a dream or vision of Maria, gathering flowers and offering them to him. His life changed. When he was released after 27 years, his first act was to go to beg the forgiveness of Maria’s mother. </p><p>Devotion to the young martyr grew, miracles were worked, and in less than half a century she was canonized. At her beatification in 1947, her mother (then 82), two sisters and a brother appeared with Pope Pius XII on the balcony of St. Peter’s. Three years later, at her canonization, a 66-year-old Alessandro Serenelli knelt among the quarter-million people and cried tears of joy.</p> American Catholic Blog Lord, may the medals we wear be constant reminders of the lives they depict. While wearing them, may we be blessed through the saints’ intercession and protected from harm. Help us to continue to spread the messages of Jesus and Mary and the saints and angels.

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