Today, I wrap-up Turtles Week by reviewing the fourth and final film in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles saga, the CGI-animated TMNT.
Basic Non-Spoiler Plot Summary: In the time since the defeat of The Shredder, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have grown apart; Leonardo is away in Central America training, under orders from Master Splinter, with the purpose of becoming a better leader to his brothers; Donatello takes a job as an IT technician; Raphael becomes The Nightwatcher – a solo-vigilante stopping criminals on the streets of New York City; and Michelangelo works children’s birthday parties as his alter ego, “Cowabunga Carl.” However, an overambitious CEO, Max Winters (who isn’t exactly what he seems) is about to unleash a new threat upon the city. Can the Turtles reunite and learn to work together as a unit again before this threat swallows New York City whole?
The Pros: I know I am not alone when I proclaim that, out of the four TMNT films, this one is the SECOND-best of the lot (the BEST being the first film). I remember, when this film was first announced, a lot of TMNT fans started to bitch about how it was going to be CGI, and how that was going to damage the “reputation” of the franchise…HOW??? I don’t get (to this day) what all the fuss was about – besides, the final product ended up being MUCH GREATER than the TURD that was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III and their chicken pox costumes. Why was it greater, you ask? Here’s why: firstly the campiness of the previous two efforts? GONE – replaced by the more serious tone of the first film. Granted, there is still SOME comic relief, and it wasn’t AS DARK as the first film (which I didn’t expect anyway), but that late-80s/early ‘90s humor that dominated the second and third films has all but disappeared. Secondly, the main plot (although it was kind of hokey and, as I like to call it, “bred for CGI”) was still, nonetheless, interesting, for a couple of reasons – the Turtles’ old foes, the Foot Clan, were interwoven into the entire thing, and served as “tweeners” (wrestling lingo for characters playing BOTH good guys and bad guys), which helped the plot along, as the audience really didn’t know for much of the film what side the Foot was on. Finally, the relationships among the Turtles themselves was really explored in-depth for the first time since the first film in 1990; the relationship between Leonardo and Raphael is explored again as well as the importance of the four Turtles working together and fighting as a unit. Also, it’s kinda cool seeing the Turtles out in the real world (well, two of them at least) working real jobs – it makes their characters relatable and more human, which allows the audience to invest in them and sympathize with them more (the initial scene with Michelangelo “at his job” will break your heart…trust me).
The Cons: I only had a couple of real gripes with this movie. First off, the characters of April O’Neil and Casey Jones (voiced by Buffy the Vampire Slayer herself, Sarah Michelle Gellar, and the former Human Torch and NEW Captain America, Chris Evans, respectively). It wasn’t so much the voice acting that I had a problem with (although Chris Evans is NO ELIAS KOTEAS), it was the animation – if you’ve seen TMNT already, leave a comment below or email me (email@example.com) and tell me if you agree: did the animation of April and Casey make them look like they were in their early-20s? I’m only asking because I’m under the impression that these four films don’t take place, you know, A MONTH apart for both of them to be the same age in each one; I would assume that, after the first two, the third and fourth take place about 1-2 years apart, and if April and Casey were already (assuming) in their LATE 20s-early 30s in the first film, I would’ve expected the animation to reflect the passage of time in this aspect and make them look at least a LITTLE older (yes, I know I’m nitpicking, but believe me, these are relevant issues if TMNT is supposedly regarded as a continuation of the original film series). Finally, despite the interesting plot, the movie does start to drag halfway, which for an 87-minute film, is not good. There are some scenes in the middle that I, personally, would have either cut or replaced with stuff that would’ve kept the film moving (you’ll know what these “drag scenes” are when you get to them).
Conclusion: The first theatrical Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film in 14 years, TMNT was VERY eagerly anticipated by yours truly, if only for nostalgia purposes. Sure, I knew this film would not reawaken “Turtle-Mania” by any means, but I took satisfaction in knowing that a new generation would get to experience exactly what I enjoyed as a youngling – what the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were about. And to my elation, the film was very well done, surpassing the level of excellence of the previous TWO Turtle films, yet just slightly missing the mark on touching the first one, which is still, in my opinion, the greatest TMNT film of all time. Still, TMNT is a film that ANYONE who considers themselves a TMNT fan should see, because as far as greatness goes, this is AS GOOD AS IT GETS (without it being the first movie, of course). Recommended for ALL AGES.
Final Score: ***1/2 (3.5/5)
I hope you enjoyed my look into the past with my Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles RETRO-Reviews, as SuperfriendsUniverse.com’s Turtles Week comes to close. Any questions/comments, please either email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment in the comments section below. This Tuesday, I will have my 2nd Edition of The Epitome of Randomness, reviewing the 2010 Summer Movie Season in conjunction with my guest appearance on Superfriends THIS WEDNESDAY NIGHT at 10PM/EASTERN! Then on Thursday, look for my review of Machete!
Until then, I’m out!
RETRO-Review – TMNT 
Cinephile extraordinaire, a budding filmmaker, and host of Forced Perspective. A resident of NY/NJ, he spends most of his time looking for new movies to watch and learning the craft of filmmaking. You’ve probably also seen him hanging around Madison Square Garden and Yankee Stadium at some point. If you see him approach your movie theater, be sure to let him in – he’s the guy in the Yankees cap!