Last year’s movie is getting reviewed now, mostly because it’s one of the dirt cheap HD DVD movies I’ve picked up this week.
Cast and Crew Information
Chris Evans as Casey Jones
Sarah Michelle Gellar as April O’Neil
Mako as Splinter
Kevin Smith as Diner Cook
Patrick Stewart as Winters
Ziyi Zhang as Karai
Laurence Fishburne as Narrator
Mitchell Whitfield as Donatello
James Arnold Taylor as Leonardo
Mikey Kelley as Michelangelo
Nolan North as Raphael
Written and directed by Kevin Munroe
Some unspecified period of time after the live action movies, the turtles have moved on. Leonardo is living alone in Latin American jungles, sent there by Splinter for training and discovery, Mike entertains at birthday parties, Donatello works for phone tech support, Raphael is operating as a vigilante, and April and Casey work in a shipping company April founded. When a man named Winters starts shipping statues found around the world to him home, they realize the Earth is in danger from interdimensional invasion.
Switching from animatronics to CGI. No animatronic setup would have allowed for this degree of camera mobility, and the CGI world eliminates the problems you get when the characters don’t quite fit in their world.
Given the multitude of references to the first three, I was a little disappointed when Raphael called Leonardo “Jungle Boy” rather than “Tarzan Boy.” (After all, the best part of TMNT III was undoubtedly the soundtrack.)
It’s hard to be original when trying to revive a franchise that was an adaptation from another medium in the first place. They did a pretty good job, choosing a new type of enemy, playing around with the relationship to the Foot clan, and modifying the dynamic of the group, placing a lot more emphasis on the family aspect. I give it 4 out of 6.
The animation is not photorealistic by any means, but it was fairly smooth. Some of the bandanas seem a bit stiff, and human faces are in that “these won’t be photorealistic so let’s just try for distinct” style that pervades other studios (such as Dreamworks.) The motion of the figures is smooth, and the combat is incredible. I give it 5 out of 6.
The story is the most logically consistent of the four feature film efforts. We’ve got multiple agendas and allegiences, as well as a definite plot. The only aspect that requires explanation is the fact that, after 3000 years, all 13 monsters were still hanging around the same general spot. Did something draw them back there? Some sort of logic there would have been nice. I give it 4 out of 6.
The voice acting was well done. Sarah Michelle Gellar managed a strong female hero that’s distinct from Buffy, Chris Evans was similarly removed from Johnny Storm, Patrick Stewart exudes the release one would expect in this situation, and the turtles themselves retain personality-appropriate tones without resorting to mimicking the old movies or cartoons. I give it 5 out of 6.
The production was excellent. While I would have appreciated more rendering time to make the animation physics a bit more realistic, the planning and intentions of the production staff were spot on. The fight choreography is some of the best I’ve seen, animated or live action. (The sequence above the Red Eye Cafe was amazing.) I give it 6 out of 6.
The emotional response was much stronger than I anticipated. While it’s appropriate for most ages, it’s not as juvenile as the previous entries, particularly when compared to the sequels. It’s a lot of fun, it has some great action, it has some cool moments (Leo returning to America, Raphael breaks out the chains, Mike boards down the sewer pipe, Donatello assures his gentleman caller that “it’s not that type of phone number,” and more.) I enjoyed this much more than I expected to. I give it 5 out of 6.
Overall, this is probably the best of the four big screen entries in the series. If the same crew puts together a sequel, I’ll probably see it in theatres. I give it 5 out of 6.
In total, TMNT receives 34 out of 42.