TMNT (2007)
TMNT (2007)

Genre: Superhero Running Time: 1 hr. 27 min.

Release Date: March 23rd, 2007 MPAA Rating: PG

Director: Kevin Munroe Actors: Chris Evans, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Mako, Patrick Stewart, Ziyi Zhang, Laurence Fishburne, Kevin Smith

 


 

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ver a decade since their last theatrical outing, everyone’s favorite sewer-dwelling, pizza-eating, mutant reptiles are finally back and in top form – this time as sleek, computer-generated iterations. “TMNT’s” skateboarding superheroes, talking martial-arts-master rat, and curiously bad jokes will drive home the nostalgia for any fan of the crime-fighting foursome. The nonstop action, wildly inventive character designs, and impressive animation will undoubtedly entertain everyone else.

Taking place after the events of the original live-action films, the brotherhood of ninja turtles is thrown into disarray when Leonardo (James Arnold Taylor) departs for South America to hone his leadership skills at the behest of their sensei, Splinter (Mako, providing a voice with a slightly raspier tone than in any of the character’s previous incarnations). Michelangelo (Mikey Kelley) and Donatello (Mitchell Whitfield) attempt to acquire slightly more “normal” jobs during Leo’s absence, while Raphael (Nolan North), pining for the days of combating baddies, turns to the vigilante justice of his armored alter ego, the Nightwatcher. When Leo does return, he’s met with animosity, prompting Splinter to order the group to cease all law-enforcement duties until they can once again work as a team.

When the mysterious industrialist Max Winters (voiced by the instantly discernible Patrick Stewart) hires Karai (Ziyi Zhang) and her Foot Clan to aid in the acquisition of twelve extremely dangerous, ancient beasts, Leonardo is captured by the stone generals of a 3,000-year-old army, intent on opening a portal to another dimension in order to unleash a demon force capable of destroying Earth (did anyone honestly expect a more conventional plot from a story concerning talking, humanoid, ninja, aquatic reptiles?). Now, the remaining turtles, along with their human friends Casey Jones (Chris Evans) and April O’Neil (Sarah Michelle Gellar), must band together to defeat the dark forces that threaten civilization.

It’s quite an undertaking to revitalize the cult phenomenon of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, especially after a 14-year film hiatus, but the artists at Imagi Studios have done the daredevil creatures justice. Highly detailed textures adorn the four leads’ streamlined models, with extra attention to their shells and weaponry handsomely elevating the overall result. Outlandish antagonist designs stand out against the rather expected look of the human characters, especially in regards to the supernatural monsters and the four golem generals, whose appearances range from inspired to near-genius. Add to that the ridiculously detailed backgrounds and locations that inhabit the turtles’ New York cityscape and viewers have an animated visual feast of the highest order. Perhaps the only disappointing character design is that of the curious Max Winters, who looks suspiciously like a rejected cast member from “The Incredibles.”

While it may appear as if the action never lets up (and it seldom does), underlying themes of honor, respect, and camaraderie are subtly influential. But the action is where “TMNT” shines. First-rate animation brings the icons to life in a way live-action never could, with exaggeratedly agile martial arts moves and over-the-top combat. Fantastic fight sequences abound, with colossal battles interspersing intense duels, augmented by radical camera movements and inordinate angles that highlight every slice of a sword or swing of a sai. A driving rock soundtrack comparably hurries the action along, while tight pacing helps to keep the truly bizarre bits of the story from getting too carried away. Incredible particle effects also enhance each fight sequence – most notably in an extraordinary rooftop showdown in the rain. In addition, the immature quips that dot the screenplay keep the proceedings consistently lighthearted, which guarantees fun for all ages and a rousing combination of artistry and thrills.

– Joel Massie

  • 8/10