Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

2007, Movie, PG, 90 mins

Review

TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES
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Bummer, dudes. Longtime fans who expect the fun lingo and pizza-gobbling Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles of the past may be shocked by director Kevin Munroe's reimagining of the popular kiddie series. Though the timeline picks up right after the last feature-film installment, the upbeat adventures of brightly color-coded heroes in the half-shell have been replaced by a dark, action-packed look at the seedy side of urban crime-fighting. Even the name has been modernized to the "edgy" TMNT, and the terrapins' renaissance-inspired names have been shortened for maximum hipness. Leonardo (voice of James Arnold Taylor), now "Leo," has been living in Mexico as the vigilante "The Ghost of the Jungle," punishing bandits who threaten the poor community nearby. Turtle pal April (Sarah Michelle Gellar), whose curves have been significantly amplified, now works as an archaeologist and is assisting wealthy mogul Winters (Patrick Stewart) to beef up his collection of stone warriors. Her travels take her to Leo's lair, where she coaxes him to return to the city where his brothers are waffling. Donatello (Mitchell Whitfield) — "Donnie" — is moping around their sewer home, working at a computer help-desk hotline. Michaelangelo/"Mikey" (Mikey Kelley) dresses up as Cowabunga Carl for kiddie parties, and Raphael/"Raf" (Nolan North) sleeps all day but secretly stops petty crimes as the mysterious "Night Watcher," with a little assist from April's beau Casey (Chris Evans). Even Splinter (Mako) the sensei rat is unable to keep the brothers bonded. Leo's return comes just in the nick of time: The nefarious Winters has summoned his ancient mystical powers to revive the stone-warrior artifacts he's been patiently collecting; he needs the reanimated army to stop a slew of mystical beings he accidentally freed thousands of years ago. Splinter has forbidden the brothers to fight until they find a way to get along, but they put aside their personal differences to fight Winters and their old nemeses the Foot Patrol, whom Winters has hired as extra muscle. But between the bulging biceps and the dark tone, the old guard is in for a shock. A few scenes are well served by the CGI animation, notably the lengthy prologue explaining Winters' past and a beautifully choreographed rooftop battle between the brothers. But overall, the film suffers from serious animation overkill: too much high-octane action, too many combatants, not enough of the hand-to-hand combat that made the Turtles unique in the first place. There's no question that the franchise needed revamping, but this go-for-broke overhaul has stripped away its entertaining charm. leave a comment --Angel Cohn

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