TMNT Review: A Welcome Return for the Ninja Turtles
by Alex Billington
March 23, 2007
After a 14-year hiatus since their third live-action movie, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are back in a CGI film named simply TMNT. There are still the regular characters that fans know and love: all four turtles and their well-defined personalities, friend and erstwhile TV reporter April O'Neil, fighting ally Casey Jones, and the wise master Splinter. TMNT is a welcome return to the beloved world of the Turtles. It's a very well made and visually extraordinary, entirely fun, true-to-its-roots film for which writer, director, and Turtles fan Kevin Munroe deserves a lot of credit.
TMNT jumps right into the action far into the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles storyline and universe. Leonardo, the leader of the four brothers, has been sent to South America by Splinter to become a better leader, but he is struggling to do so. Back at home in Manhattan, Raphael is becoming increasingly separated from his other two brothers Donatello and Michelangelo and even Splinter, performing moonlighting superhero work dressed up in full body armor and calling himself the Nightwatcher. When strange events begin to take place in Manhattan, it's up to their friend April O'Neil, who this time around is an exotic artifacts dealer, to bring the Turtles back together. Introducing many new and revised characters, the TMNT storyline is as daring as it is entertaining.
What I love about TMNT is that it connects with fans of all generations. Although I think the first two live-action movies are still the ones to beat, TMNT still lives up to my own expectations as a lifelong Turtles fan. Munroe pulls off the reintroduction and atmosphere of the Turtles universe almost as exquisitely as it's found in the comics, and he delivers an entertaining story with as many cheer-worthy moments as a Spider-Man flick. It's tough to rekindle the spirit of so many fans, but Munroe does it well, and I know it'll find the heart of any true fan.
Topping TMNT off are the fantastic CGI that shines during the many fight sequences, and the voice actors that can actually be commended for their work. Munroe made sure to cast little-known actors as the Turtles so that their names wouldn't draw attention away from the core characters. What every fan wants are fights that still hit hard even in CGI - and TMNT's certainly do. The final fight didn't play as well as others in the film, but it wasn't a letdown either. The best fight you'll find is between the two brothers themselves - Leonardo and Raphael.
I look forward to seeing more Turtles films from Kevin Munroe. I was vastly impressed at what he pulled off in TMNT and was incredibly entertained, a rarity for PG films aimed at the younger audience. From my own hardcore-fan background, I can still enjoy a good Turtles movie today, even in CGI. Although it doesn't beat the first live-action film, TMNT earns a place alongside it in the annals of the Turtles' long franchise history.