Sunday, March 25, 2007

Movie Review: TMNT

TMNT, written and directed by Kevin Munroe. Based on characters created by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird. Starring Chris Evans, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Mako, Kevin Smith, and Patrick Stewart. Runtime 87 minutes. Rated PG. USCCB rating is A-II, Adults and Adolescents.

For other reviews, click here.

For screenshots, click here.

I know the critics are panning it, but I can't help it, I like it. If you too are in your twenties, you also may enjoy a trip down memory lane with TMNT. Otherwise, you might not get it.

Let's start with the stuff I don't like because that's more fun.

First, there's the title. Is this or is this not a movie about four anthropomorphic turtles trained in ninjitsu? You should show off a zany premise like that, not hide it behind an acronym. Besides, I hate acronyms. I know that's a funny thing for a Catholic convert to say, considering we've got all this RCIA and OSB, but still, I hate them.

The movie also makes the Superman Returns mistake, trying to resuscitate a dead franchise rather than start a new one. This is a sequel to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II (like Superman Returns, it ignores the awful third installment). It's been long enough no one remembers the forgettable original films anyway, but besides that, a sequel to the orginal film series means no Shredder, and no Shredder means no Bebop and Rocksteady and no opportunity to bring in my favorite villain, Brain from Dimension X.

It's CGI. I'm bored with CGI; this should be a cartoon. Admittedly, the turtles look pretty good, but the humans have weird proportions, especially the women, who look like animated Bratz dolls.

Casey. I never liked Casey, and Munroe loses points for failing to kill this character off. I admit a vigilante who beats up criminals with sports equipment is a fun idea, but there are already four ninja turtles in this film, so he's redundant. Not only is Casey still hanging around, but he's still April's boyfriend, and now he's her live-in boyfriend, which is not cool in a children's film. I have always believed April shouldn't have a love interest anyway because she should be too busy playing Linda Hamilton to the turtles' Ron Perlman.

Last on the list of bad stuff is the final action sequence, which features not only the turtles and Casey duking it out with Foot Clan ninjas and walking statues, but Splinter and April (?). I understand they want the whole gang together, but Splinter is too old for this kind of action, and as for April, I'm sorry, but putting on a sexy outfit does not make you a ninja. Now bring back that frumpy yellow jumpsuit.

As for the good stuff, the film has a surprisingly well-written script, if not the tightest plot. The teenage angst that produces tension between Leonardo (leader of the turtles) and Raphael (who has enough teen angst to make up for the other three) is believable and well done. The overarching plot is forgettable--it has something to do with thirteen monsters, walking statues, and Patrick Stewart--but the character development is great.

The humor is sometimes flat, but the turtles' cheeky one-liners are chuckle-worthy, at least. A few jokes are genuinely laugh-out-loud funny, especially one involving Splinter and a television, and I can't get over the line, "Every ninja's day should begin with a good breakfast."

The critics are attacking it for being too serious, but I thought it was a good treatment of this comic that, from all accounts I've heard, was surprisingly gritty. The critics are also unimpressed with the moral: that families should stick together even through tough times. Admittedly, this is an old standby for Hollywood, but it's still relevant, especially with our high divorce rate.

The movie ends with awkward hints of a sequel, possibly bringing back some of the great villains that were half of why the Turtles franchise was so awesome in the first place. Bringing back this implausible B story world from the '80s may look dumb to others, but I can't say I'm complaining.

The Sci Fi Catholic's Rating for TMNT:

Myth Rating: Medium/Low (a weak attempt at a mythical backstory and plot)

Quality: Medium/High (slick production, decent action, variable story, variable humor)

Ethics/Religion: Low (live-ins in kid flicks are no-nos)

Filmography links and data courtesy of The Internet Movie Database.

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