Wow. Who ever thought we’d ever get a new Ninja Turtles movie? I know they have a fairly successful Saturday morning cartoon and there’s still heavy interest in the horrible 1980’s Ninja Turtles cartoon, but I didn’t think we’d be seeing another Ninja Turtles anytime soon, let alone a CGI one. But the movie came and went, making a tiny splash on the big screen and raking up a nice chunk of change, and now it’s finally on home video (where it will no doubt flourish). But is it any good, or at least as good as the first live-action Turtles movie? Oh yes. TMNT is good.
The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles return in an all-new CGI action adventure, written and directed by Kevin Munroe. After the defeat of their old arch nemesis, The Shredder, the Turtles have grown apart as a family. Struggling to keep them together, their rat sensei, Splinter (Mako), becomes worried when strange things begin to brew in New York City. Tech-industrialist Maximillian J. Winters (Patrick Stewart) is raising up an army of ancient monsters, and only one super-ninja fighting team can stop them– Leonardo (James Arnold Taylor), Michelangelo (Mikey Kelley), Donatello (Mitchell Whitfield) and Raphael (Nolan North)! With the help of old allies April O’Neil (Sarah Michelle Gellar) and Casey Jones (Chris Evans), the Turtles are in for the fight of their lives as they once again must face the mysterious Foot Clan, who have put their own ninja skills behind Winters’ endeavors.
Well, color me surprised! I came in expecting a pretty lousy movie with only one key sequence (the amazing Leonardo/Raphael rooftop fight) and about 80 minutes of filler. But boy, was I wrong. While it’s not the best movie in the Ninja Turtles franchise, if this is truly a continuation of the 1990’s live-action franchise, TMNT is a fun movie, bringing back many of the great aspects of these classic cartoons. Wipe away those memories of the horrible 1980’s animated series, this is how the Turtles should be done. Of course, I’m more a fan of the original Ninja Turtles comics from the early 1980s (and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures comic that spun out of the pretty lousy 1980’s cartoon series) and this definitely appealed to me. It really reminded me of the first live-action Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie.
Sure, the plot is sort of out there, slightly predictable, and even a bit stupid, but it leads to a lot of great moments. Make no bones about it, this is definitely Leonardo and Raphael’s movie. They get the most face time out of the fearsome foursome, and I think it’s crucial to the story. However, I do think that Leonardo would have recognized it was Raphael in the “Nightwatcher” gear right away, instead of being surprised when the helmet comes off. But, I can ignore that, because it leads to an absolutely stupendous fight sequence. And yeah, the fight sequence seems a bit too short, which makes me believe that there’s a host of deleted scenes that would have garnered the movie a PG-13 rating. Scenes we’ll likely never see. But damn, what a great sequence. And the movie is just littered with great, fast-paced sequences, and a few quiet moments, as well, all of which are essential for the story’s development.
I want to add that the designs of the monsters in this flick, handled by The Batman’s Jeff Matsuda, are pretty sweet. In fact, the designs look great all around. Sure, the human may look a little bit off, but I personally have no problem with how they turned out. It all looks pretty sharp from top to bottom.
Anyways, it’s a great movie and, yes, the plot is a little bit loopy, but I did enjoy the finale and how it all wrapped up. I would have preferred a more street-level type story, but I’m fine with the other-dimensional stuff. I suppose it’s just escalation from the previous three movies, but I just wish it was more street-level like the first movie. Still definitely worth checking out, and should be safe for kids ages seven and up. And before I forget to mention it, the opening fight sequence, which is magnificent, by the way, just feels so epic. It doesn’t have the awesomeness of the Raph/Leo face-off, but it is a great way to open the movie, to let everyone know this is a different kind of Ninja Turtles movie.
So how does the DVD stack up? Once you get past the ugly cover art (why, WHV? Why?) and realize that it’s a flipper disc (two strikes against the disc already), you’re going to find a nice amount of material here. The audio and video is top notch, especially given the digital transfer. I can only imagine how amazing the HD-DVD and Blu-Ray DVDs look like. A lot of it doesn’t match up all to be that much, as most of the extras last a few minutes, but there are a few of note. The DVD includes Alternate endings, an Audio Commentary (yes, another one from WHV!), Deleted Scenes, Interviews with the voice talent, storyboards, and more. I find it funny how Laurence Fishburne is given so much press for his role in the movie, when all he did was the voice-over narration at the very beginning of the movie. There is one problem, which is there’s commentary over some of the extra material, like the cut scenes, which makes it impossible to here the actual dialogue. Not cool. There’s no trailers here, which is a shame, but the online teaser is here . . . and is alright. I preferred the theatrical teasers. A nice collection of extras, though.
I have to say I was really pleased with how the movie turned out, and the extras accompanied. While the extras aren’t overflowing, it’s a healthy amount and should please any Ninja Turtle fan. This movie was a blast from the past, bringing back both good (the first two Ninja Turtles movies, the early comics, the Archie Comics, etc.), and the bad (namely the 1980s animated series, the third movie, etc.). It’s a fun movie that every Ninja Turtle fan should check out. TMNT comes Recommended. While I wish this movie would have officially kick-started the franchise again, I doubt it will. However, I’m happy with this CGI tale, but I’ll gladly welcome any future installments.
TMNT is now available on DVD, HD-DVD, and Blu-Ray.