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Movie Review: TMNT

Written and directed by Kevin Munroe based on the characters created by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird
Warner Bros./Weinstein Company

The kid in me was a bit excited about the prospect of a new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, as I had enjoyed the Saturday morning cartoon series and even the first movie, a live-action back-in-the-day flick. After Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III came out, which was already past the height of the franchise’s popularity, all appeared dead. But the Turtles have gotten a bit of a renaissance with new cartoons since 2003 and with CG animation ruling multiplexes, it became time for a good old-fashioned big screen resurrection.

The prologue to the story is that long ago, a master warrior opened a portal that turned his fellow knights to stone, but gave him immortality. It opened the door for 13 dangerous beasts to enter our world. They scattered and apparently went into hiding.

Apparently, since we last saw the Turtles, the group has broken up somewhat. Donatello (Mitchell Whitfield) is a computer hotline operator, Michaelangelo (Mikey Kelley) dresses up…as a turtle, with a bigger head, for kids at birthday parties, Raphael (Nolan North) sleeps by day but at night goes on rogue missions saving New York City, and Leonardo (James Arnold Taylor) has been battling crooks in the jungles of Central America.

Leonardo comes home with the beckoning of April O’Neil (Sarah Michelle Gellar), who is recovering some artifacts for businessman Max Winters (Patrick Stewart). His sensei Splinter (Mako) tells Leonardo that the four turtles must become united as a group before fighting again, something that’s difficult for the hardened Raphael to understand, creating a rift between the two brothers. All of this is coming at the exact wrong time, as Winters uses his artifacts to awaken mythical beasts who came to this world through a portal 3000 years ago, and have the power to beckon even more creatures to the destruction of the planet. He enlists the help of the Foot Clan, led by Karai (Ziyi Zhang), to round up the monsters for him.

It’s a shame when a movie puts in some pretty cool-looking creatures and makes them mere pawns to something even bigger, and that’s just one of the problems this movie has. I didn’t really enjoy the Leonardo-and-Raphael-need-to-reconcile angle of the film; whenever I heard Splinter spout out some pseudo-wisdom I wanted to shake him and yell, “Give them some real answers!” Occasionally, there is some cool action, and it might be enough for current Turtles fans to enjoy the movie completely. But the whole movie seems torn down by this Turtles Unite! thing. This is a movie, they should already be united and they should just be kicking some monster butt, each one with their own unique set of challenges, brains and brawn bringing them down.

But my opinion isn’t going to matter much here; you’re either a huge Turtles fan and can’t wait to see this or you’ve passed your Turtles phase and this movie doesn’t interest you one bit. This could have been a big winner, though.


Comment from KW
Time: March 23, 2007, 3:46 pm

Flipping channels last night I actually saw part of TNMT III, where they somehow transport back to ancient China or whatever. Ridiculous. But I sure loved the first one when I was younger.

I’m a little bummed to read your review, because it looked kinda cool–sort of an Incredibles-style animation thing going on.

I’ll see it anyway, as the lady friend is a major turtles fan.

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