TMNT is a 2007 a CGI-animated movie starring everyone's favourite pizza-munching, crime-fighting shelled amphibians. Now I have to admit that I was never really a fan of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (or Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles as they were renamed for the UK version of the TV series), but I watched this with an open mind, anticipating some mindless fun. Well... I was half right...
The basic storyline follows thus: The turtles are in a bit of a decline. The oldest of the four brothers and designated leader Leonardo has gone off for some training to become a better leader and martial arts dude and all that. Of the three remaining turtles, Michaelangelo works at kids parties, Donatello is working in an IT support helpdesk and Raphael seems to sleep all day, but no-one is quite sure where he goes at night... Reporter April O'Neil (who for no explained reason will become a martial arts expert later in the film) goes to Central America to seek out Leonardo, knowing that the other turtles need him. Master Splinter, the rat who doubles as a father-figure for the turtles and a Sensei (teacher), as usual says nothing particularly, but manages to look very wise.
April's boyfriend Casey helps her with a job that will later turn out to be a threat to all humanity. This links in with the extremely cheesy introductory sequence of the film set three millennia before the present day, narrated by Laurence Fishbourne with what could have been dramatic gravity if it hadn't all been so daft. The storyline is pretty weak, sounding like a typical cheesy RPG plotline. It wouldn't be so bad but it's pretty underdeveloped, barely managing to maintain an 87-minute film. There are some themes about forgiveness, brotherhood and loyalty woven into the plot with about as much subtlety as an exploding meteorite. Still, this wasn't especially a disappointment as I hadn't really expected the storyline to be the strongest element of the film.
Unfortunately there's not a great deal else to recommend it either. There was very little humour in TMNT - at least, there were some attempts at humour but 95% of these were painfully unfunny. The dialogue was often trite or plain stupid, though again this wasn't particularly unexpected. The CGI was also a big let-down; the characters in particular lacked detail, including a single line down the middle of the face being (supposedly!) the nose of each human character. Most of the film looked very much like a computer game, and what's worst (and perhaps most befuddling) is the fact that many of the action scenes lacked any real feeling of movement.
The best thing about the film was definitely the sound - the music was fairly good, and the voice acting was well done. The voice cast were:
James Arnold Taylor ... Leonardo
Mitchell Whitfield ... Donatello
Mikey Kelley ... Michelangelo
Nolan North ... Raphael
Chris Evans ... Casey
Sarah Michelle Gellar ... April O'Neil
Mako ... Splinter
Patrick Stewart ... Winters - rich dude with a long history...
Ziyi Zhang ... Karai - female leader of the foot ninjas... she was an utterly pointless character
To Sum Up...
The characters were rather boring, the plot twists utterly predictable, the visuals unimpressive, the action boring and the humour unimpressive. It lifted above the completely banal on a few occasions, so I guess it's worth 2 stars, but unless you're under 15 years of age or are deeply nostalgic about the turtles, avoid this. (Even if you're young or nostalgic, I think it's doubtful you'll enjoy it much, but you never know!!)
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