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  Publicity Stills of "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles"
(Courtesy from GV)

Genre: CG Animation
Director: Kevin Munroe
Cast: Patrick Stewart, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Chris Evans, Ziyi Zhang, Kevin Smith
RunTime: 1 hr 30 mins
Released By: GVP
Rating: PG

Opening Day: 23 March 2007

Synopsis :

Strange events are occurring in New York City, and the Turtles are needed more than ever, but Raphael, Donatello, and Michelangelo have become lost and directionless. With the city at stake, it's up to Leonardo and Zen Master Splinter to restore unity and ninja discipline to the Turtles.

Movie Review:

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in the late 80s and early 90s can claim to have introduced many kids to the Italian Renaissance but one thing is undeniable - the phenomenon still echoes to the hearts and minds of young adults (or the old kids) till this day. The offbeat comics and popular Saturday morning cartoon series have spawned films before, and through unproven aesthetic formats like the 3 movies that have preceded its latest incarnation, “TMNT”. The live-action trilogy was progressive back when it first premiered so it just seems a step back now that it’s legacy has taken a knock back with a re-imagined landscaped that hinges more on garnering a new set of fans than satisfying its current ones.

“TMNT” delivers a brutally honest roundhouse kick to its fandom’s ever diminishing vernal senses when it quickly becomes apparent by the very nature of its conception, that these are not the characters we have come to know and appreciate. One has to speculate whether the T in its abbreviated title now stands for tepid instead of describing the once youthful eponymous juvenile crimefighters. The promise of a franchise rejuvenation to a new, younger audience beckons when it acquiesces to yet another CGI fest that feels rushed and vexingly circuitous, having traded in its original spirit and vigor for hollow and distracting artifice.

Derisive pandering aside, if the film does claim to have a clear aesthetic purpose, I see no evidence of it. What it does claim however is a return to the basics of its comics and to an extent the cartoons that followed it. The grit, humour and mythos prevalent then are now substituted for heavily wrought scenes of sibling rivalry, and an unfair preoccupation with the gang’s most sombre and disdainfully jaded individuals in Raphael (Nolan North) and Leonardo (James Arnold Taylor). While most of the CGI looks shoddy from the get go, attention does seem to have been made to its stars – the turtles. They look exponentially more refined and well designed than the human counterparts voiced by the obligatory big name actors in Patrick Stewart, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Chris Evans and Mako (appropriately screened here with another one of his final films in “Cages”). The atmosphere and scenery have a noirish tinge in the city’s rooftops and alleys but the any sort of lasting grittiness is left to tough talking between brothers and arduous harangues by hulking enemies.

There’s no longer a sense that our heroes are so beyond what they are fighting and where they live, that their very nature as caricatures who carry a wink-wink sense of humour in spite of the dangers they find themselves in and to spite the enemies they face as well. They’ve never taken themselves seriously but “TMNT” does, to a grave measure. It comes as no surprise when the only bouts of youthful exuberance that “TMNT” does manage to bestow belongs to Michelangelo (Mikey Kelley) and Donatello (Mitchell Whitfield). So will kids now look past the inherent ridiculousness of actual turtles pretending to be ninjas or will they see them as we used to see them – ninja turtles?

Movie Rating:

(A jejune script and lacklustre re-envisioning lets down the awesome foursome)

Review by Justin Deimen


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