For my next review, I'm actually picking a movie that's still in theatres. TMNT
, also known as "that
new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle movie" or "Turtle Power 4". At the suggestion of BLUELol
, I'm including a breakdown at the beginning of the
review for those who just want the summary.
Action / Comic-to-Film
All CGI Animation
(Voice Talents) Chris Evans, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Mako, Kevin Smith, Patrick Stewart, Laurence Fishburne.
Moderate (or Never Again)
People familiar with TMNT, but not fans.
Die-hard TMNT fans.
Good for a CGI movie based off a comic book.
Adequate for an Action flick.
Mild violence, but no blood. Probably safe for just about any kid old enough to not get scared of bad guys in movies.
7.5/10 (for non-fans), or 3.75 (for fans of TMNT).
The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles re-unite to fight their greatest threat ever, after their leader, Michelangelo, has been away training
in a remote location.
The Full Review
I feel the need to admit I'm not a big Ninja Turtles fan. Like most people, I never read the original comic, I was only exposed to the TV cartoon,
which featured the lamest villain names since non-Flemming Bond films (Beebob? Rocksteady?). When the 1990
featured, brilliantly enough, Corey Feldman in an oversized rubber suit supposedly being a "ninja", I'd completely dismissed Turtle
Power as being something for people who'd just never been properly introduced to a real anime. To be fair, it wasn't really Corey in the suit, just
his voice, but still.
Then one day I met my wife, who was such a rabid Ninja Turtles fan, she has memorabilia and three equally smitten friends whom the quartet of which
nicknamed themselves Leonardo, Donatello, Michelangelo and Raphael. Only they are the comic book
fans, and they say this with a very
challenging stare, as if to say "We dare
you to mention the TV show." She's tried a few times to get me interested in the Turtles, and it's
gone about as well as my attempt to get her into Dr. Who
We finally get enough time to go out to see ONE movie. I'm eagerly anticipating watching 300
everyone but me has seen it and raved about it. All week long, I'm saying "Hooray, my favorite historical battle meets my favorite American comic
book artist!!!" I was so excited I nearly skipped through the door the night we were supposed to see the movie... and there's my wife, doe-eyed and
blinking in that way that immediately tells me my evening is about to get a lot worse.
She'd seen the ad for TMNT, despite my best efforts, and she wanted to see that instead of "300". So that's why you're getting this review
instead of 300...sigh.
Needless to say I walked into the theater with low expectations in the range of
and all the enthusiasm of going to the dentist. Still, it was
only 2 hours of my life, for something my wife loved...and I could trade this later to make her re-watch Cabin
Come to find out, I was pleasantly surprised. There wasn't any one single shining element to this film. The big plot twist at the end can be figured
out by the particularly astute in about the first 5 minutes of the film, the music is merely adequate (does anyone do high-calibre soundtracks
anymore?), the animation isn't particularly amazing, and despite the fact there's some incredible voice talent in the film, you can't help but get
the feeling these actors and actresses really just needed a paycheck they weren't completely ashamed of.
Even the fight scenes, which you'd expect to be the best part of an action movie, are mostly occurring off-camera. While there are one or two actual
fight scenes you can watch, for the most part you only "hear" the battle while the camera stays static on a wall or something, or you see shadows,
or the camera is pulled back so far you can't make out any real detail, or it moves too fast to pick up any actual moves. It was kind of like the
director said "Well, we can't get Yuen Woo Ping
, so we might as well not really bother on the
But, to my complete surprise it works. In all honesty, the whole movie is greater than the sum of its parts. In fact, the faults I just named in the
film, I can only name in retrospect, because the movie itself never lets on to the shortcomings while it's playing. I couldn't believe it, but I
found myself genuinely enjoying the film in its entirety the entire way through.
I expected stupid 80's cheesey surfer lines like "Cowabunga Dude", "Don't have a cow man", and "Radical"... and while expressions like this
did pop up on the rare occasion, they were either sidenotes or spoken with the same tired enthusiasm any of us would have trying to repeat popular
phrases from our childhood. I honestly got the impression that these were the turtles, now disenfranchised, dispirited, and that they'd "moved on"
from their super-hero days, a la "The Incredibles".
The animation on the turtles' faces was incredibly well done. Emotions were expressed and easily recognizable in ways that weren't the normal
caricatures you get in "kid's movies", even subtle little glares in the background that are never acknowledged. This really helped the
brother/brother power struggle between Leonardo (James Arnold Taylor
) and Raphael
), and in some instances it even managed to hit home on some family drama.
Master Splinter was the worst animation in the entire film. His shading, texture, even the way the light reflected off of him seemed fake compared to
the rest of the animation. His one action sequence looks like it was made in Logo. The voice talent (Mako
however, was extremely well done. You may remember Mako from such well known titles as "Super Robot Monkey Team
(no, that's not a joke), and Avatar: The Last Airbender"
, or perhaps the lesser
known title "Memoirs of a Geisha"
...in point of fact, if you examine the biography of any one of TMNT's Cast
, you'll find that just about
every person who isn't a big name star was in one of those three titles.
The humans in the film, Casey Jones (Chris Evans
- Human Torch in
) and April O'Neil (Sarah Michelle Gellar
Buffy, from "Buffy the Vampire Slayer (TV series)"
), really didn't need to be in it. Casey Jones starts
off the movie as a jerk, and later turns into a useless sidekick. April somehow evolved into The Bride from Kill
, complete with yellow jumpsuit and authentic Japanese steel katana. Neither contributed much of anything, and their facial expressions were
wooden (but not as bad as Splinter's).
The villains in the film were... well... confusing for an action flick. The vast majority of the film the villains are all fighting each other while
the heroes are fighting each other. The fact that the twain ever meet up at all seems to happen only by one of the weakest and most predictable of
coincidences. I kind of got the impression the villains just got in the way of the main plot more than actually posing any real threat to humanity. On
the bright side, I give HUGE PROPS to the writers for NOT giving the lead villain Max Winters (Patrick
) a plucky inept sidekick, but instead a very sexy and competant semi-evil female ninja named Karai
Still, when the credits finally scrolled, having thoroughly enjoyed myself, I turned to my wife with a big smile and found her glowering almost as
angrily as her fellow three turtle friends, whom immediately broke into an argument about how it screwed up almost everything from the comic book. I
got to listen to this on the way home instead of NPR. Dutifully, I nodded through each explanation point and just as quickly forgot it as I began
composing the review in my head.
Overall, I give the movie a 7.5 if you've heard of the Ninja Turtles but were never enough of a fan to even bother learning who wears what color
headband. If you're a fan of the comic book, or the TV Show, you can cut that score in half, as your mind will apparently explode with
inconsistancies that ruin the film for you. It's not a must-see, but you won't feel like your money was wasted, either.
I'd still have rather seen "300" though.