September 10th, 2009

TMNT (2007) **

I was always a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle fan by proxy.  My little brother was the Turtle head in the family so he was the one who watched the cartoons, played with the toys, and wore the pajamas.  Just because I was a little bit older, that didn’t stop me from occasionally watching the show and playing with a toy or two myself.  I liked the original live action Turtle movie but Part 2 was atrocious (despite the hilarious Vanilla Ice cameo) and Part 3 was kinda hokey.  It took Hollywood 14 long Turtle-less years to finally make another TMNT flick, albeit in a completely computer generated format.  The results are decidedly mixed. 


The film picks up some time after Part 3 and finds everyone’s favorite Mutants disbanding and going their separate ways.  Meanwhile in the city, a nefarious villain (voiced by Patrick Stewart) has teamed up with the dreaded Foot Clan to kidnap thirteen evil monsters that will bring about the resurrection of an ancient immortal stone army.  It’s up to the Turtles to get their shit together and learn how to work as a team in order to save the day.


While I think the idea to go CGI on the Turtles was ambitious, I have to admit I missed the rubbery looking Turtles from the 90’s.  While the switch to CGI was a smart one, some of the animation is downright shoddy.  All of the monsters are extremely cheesy and the flashback to the villain’s past is pretty pathetic looking.  The human characters were too heavily stylized for my tastes as well.  (I know this movie is a goddamn cartoon, but did they really need to make the humans look so damn cartoony?)  I will say that the rendering on the Turtles themselves is very well done and the animators did a good job on differentiating their distinct personalities.  Oh well, as long as they look good, I guess it doesn’t matter if everything else looks goofy as fuck.


TMNT also suffers from some of the most horrendously weak villains I’ve ever seen, animated or otherwise.  I didn’t really give two shits about the villain’s plot and the whole monster subplot was incredibly weak.  I guess after you defeat Shredder, watch Vanilla Ice do the Ninja Rap, and travel back in time, it’s all downhill from there.


The flick does get some things right; namely the Turtles themselves.  Their interactions with each other are classic Turtle stuff.  I also appreciated the slightly darker approach to the characters which made them more akin to the Turtles of the comics than the cartoon.   The rooftop duel between Raphael and Leonardo is the highlight of the film and hints at what a badass movie this could’ve been if it didn’t have a bunch of lame-ass stone warriors and numb-nut monsters in it.  I also dug the nods to the previous live action films as well as some of the Casey Jones and April O’Neil stuff.


TMNT is filled with shortcomings and reeks of missed opportunities.  That doesn’t stop it from being the second best Turtle movie ever made.  That’s not saying much though.