Ten Thousand Bytes of Cinematic Critique
Four turtles, mutated into humanoid teenagers and taught by their rat sensei to be ninjas. It's a concept as old as time, or at least as old as the 80s. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise has thrived for over two decades, and its latest incarnation is TMNT, a CGI effort as gorgeous as any Pixar production. The animation is fluid, flawless, and at-times as close to realistic as our technology currently allows. The scenery is given as much detail and depth as the characters flipping and punching around on screen. Yeah, some of the facial expressions are overexaggerated, but that's as much a problem of animation in general than this CGI movie in particular. I grew up watching the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, both on television and in the cinema. This helped me to understand the movie, because the film did poorly in explaining who the people in the film are, how they got the way they are, or anything else remotely resembling a backstory. There was some mumbling about the Shredder being killed, which my background with the franchise didn't help explain, because I have not watched the more recent cartoons and thus am not sure if this film is a continuation of the old movies or the new cartoon (not the new-new one where they're transported into the future). I could look it up, but why do I need a pamphlet to understand what's going on in a film?Fortunately, it's not a big deal and anyone should get the gist - big freakish turtles used to fight crime together as a team, but there has been some problems where they have been away for a year. Think Ghostbusters II, especially with Michaelangelo's job. Mike is one of the Ninja Turtles, in case you didn't know...he's the party dude. Leonardo leads, Donatello does machines, and Raphael is cool but rude. Actually, Raphael is a bit of an immature asshole, but his heart is in the right place. As for Donatello, he "does" machines as well as tech support, and Leo would lead if he wasn't on sabbatical trying to figure out how to lead better. That's the movie in a nutshell (turtle shell?), and the story is about how the Turtles come back together to fight their greatest foe...well, not really their greatest foe, or even a memorable foe. In fact, if you could name the bad guys outside of the Foot clan, who aren't necessarily bad guys in this picture, then you win a thumb's up. The Turtles do fight baddies, but the Foot aren't the true villains, the monsters aren't the actual threat, the eccentric billionare may have alterior motives, and the 3,000 year old generals are not on the screen for much time. There's some stuff about a curse and another dimension and blah blah, but it's not what makes the movie go. The heart of TMNT is the relationship between the brothers, primarly Raphael and Leonardo's struggle to co-exist. Raphael is resentful that Leo left, and Leonardo is upset with Raph's non-conformist attitude. The highlight of the film is undoubtably the confrontation between the two. There's a few one-liners that work but are not hilarious, although I can't expect much from that. It's just meant to keep the movie from being overly grim. The soundtrack is a nice mixture of metal, rap, classical, and other forms. There's no consistent type of music used, but each selection fits the mood and action on the screen well. TMNT is a children's movie, but there's enough in the story and the fighting to keep both older fans of the old incarnations (and/or parents) entertained. If you're a particularly perverted individual, April O'Neil is looking very hot for a computer generated character. Basically, there's something for everyone.
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