Thursday, December 27, 2012
New York. After Shredder's death, the four mutant ninja turtles seem to have fallen into a crisis: Splinter sent Leonardo to a train in a jungle in order to become a better leader; Donatello provides user assistance for computers over the phone; Michelangelo dresses up as a turtle to entertain kids while Raphael dresses up in a costume to fight crime at night as a vigilante. They are all reunited, however, when they find out that a rich tycoon, Winters, sent mercenaries to capture 13 monsters that escaped three thousand years ago from an interdimensional portal in order to send them back, but his four generals, made out of stone, refuse and want to bring even more monsters in order to rule the Earth. The turtles stop the generals and send the monsters back to their dimension.
14 years after the last Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle live action film, writer and director Kevin Munroe bravely decided to revive the franchise by giving it a new cloth of a CGI animated film, but except for the four heroes jumping higher than in the live action, they are not much of an improvement following the long absence. Even though some critics harshly called "TMNT" just an advertisement for the new series of turtle toys and games, the movie still actually has some things going for it. Leaving the bizarre intro aside, the opening act is surprisingly good, showing how the four protagonists lost their reason d'etre after Shredder's death and are now scattered throughout the city, but April O'Neill and Casey, though underused, practically steal the show with their charming humor here and there (i.e., when April talks to the rich Winters in his office, Casey can be seen accidentally tipping the tycoon's pillar in the background, but quickly returns it back to its original state before the fall).
Munroe decided to show turtles in a darker edition, which is a double-edged sword: on one hand, the subplot where Raphael drifted away and alieneted himself from the team is strong, but on the other, he unfortunately came across as a jerk. Still, in the first act, the four title protagonists still have an occasional outburst of humor here and there (the exchange between Michelangelo and Donatello: "Did anyone get the license plate of that thing that hit us last night? It looked like your mom, dude!" - "Yeah, that would make her your mom too, doofus."). Unfortunately, the prelude works the best, because once the main tangle hits in - revolving around interdimensional portal and 13 monsters - it turns out to be nonsense, whereas the finale sinks into generic over-the-top action. Overall, "TMNT" is better than "Turtles" II and III, but still weaker than the best "Turtles" film, Barron's simple and charming "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles"