Stories Of Nerdy Adventures (Now With 100% More Cetaceans)
Saturday, April 14, 2007
I remember the Ninja Turtles from way back in the 80's, when kids were going crazy about them. When the 90's kicked in, they sort of faded away as the fad passed. Recently I've seen some of the old episodes of the original animated series on Youtube, and I must say it hasn't aged well. I suppose when you're 10 years old, the atrocious writing and choppy animation didn't bother you much. The Turtles were so popular there were several live action movies based on it. I don't remember much of them, but I do know they got progressively worse. One of the sequels had what has got to be the most humiliating primary villain movie death ever; Shredder got killed outside a Vanilla Ice concert.
Flash forward to 2007. We have a new 3D animated TMNT movie, named simply "TMNT". For those of us nostalgic about reliving our childhood, this movie is for you. It's been panned by critics as being unoriginal, but it's one of those films that critics hate and fans love.
The storyline has a very "Ghostbusters II" feel to the premise (see, I'm a child of the 80's). We have the four protagonists split up and retired from saving the world (with one of them entertaining kids at birthday parties) and it takes an ancient evil threatening the city of New York to bring our heroes together to save it.
The film opens with a tale of an ancient warrior releasing some nasty evil monsters into the world and becoming immortal a few thousand years ago, but sentencing his brethren to become stone statues. In the present day, we find out that Leonardo has been in Central America pulling off Zorro-like stunts (albeit ninja-style), in a quest to "become a better leader". April O'Neil tracks him down and tries to persuade him to come back to his brothers, who is lost without him.
Back in New York we see Donatello working phone tech support (a really funny moment if you work in IT), Michaelangelo working as an entertainer for kids and a very emo Raphael skulking around the city being a costumed crime-fighter a la Batman. Leonardo eventually returns, just in time to see strange monsters popping up over the city. Raphael seems to have a huge chip on his shoulder against Leonardo, which even leads to the two fighting it out with weapons later in the movie.
Eventually the turtles sort out their differences, and band together to fight the villains that were introduced at the beginning of the movie. The Foot clan also makes an appearance as henchmen to the main antogonist. With Shredder dead, the ninja babe Karai leads the remaining Foot clan members. Also, April O'Neil is now a ninja (don't ask how that happened) and teams up with her beau Casey Jones to help out our heroes.
There's plenty of good stuff in the movie, primarily the animation. The director takes full advantage of the medium, as we get to see really cool camera angles especially during the Leonardo-Raphael smackdown. The voice acting was also superb, and we got some celebrity voices such as Patrick Stewart, Sarah Michelle Gellar and Ziyi Zhang for the supporting roles. While they gave good performances, I found some of the celebrity voices a tad distracting. It's hard to listen to Patrick Stewart and not imagine Captain Picard. Also the movie was a bit short, but I guess it's hard to keep kids still for too long in a theatre.
If you're a TMNT fan, you'll love this movie. If you're not, you may still enjoy it as long as you're not expecting Gone With The Wind when you go into the theatre.