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Film Reviews

by Mitch Emerson

Starring: Patrick Stewart, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Ziyi Zhang, Chris Evans, Mako
Directed By: Kevin Munroe
Produced By: Peter Laird, Francis Kao, Gary Richardson
Genre: Action/Adventure, Animation and Adaptation
MPAA Rating: PG for some thematic elements, mild peril and language.
Distributors: Warner Bros.

Those wisecracking, pizza loving, trouble finding turtles are back. This time with a makeover that makes them a little darker, leaner, meaner and greener. OK, maybe not greener but I had to throw that in. Animation technology keeps growing in leaps and bounds and I have a feeling that it won't be long before we won't be able to tell the difference between CG and live action. So obviously I liked that part. Especially the rooftop fight in the rain. The reflected light playing off of their skin is just gorgeous. And the attention to detail is phenomenal.

The character design was really good too, everybody was recognizable and everyone got the lean mean makeover as well. For the Turtles, I found it interesting to note that all of their under shells had some variation to them. Not like the cartoon where you could only tell them apart by their mask colors and weapons. The Nightwatcher - his armor design just plain bad ass. I hate to sound like a weirdo but I found April, (Sarah Michelle Gellar) when in her ninja suit, and the new leader of the Foot, Karai (Ziyi Zhang) to be kind of sexy. The other villains looked just as cool except for Max Winters (Patrick Stewart), where they went with the super big chest that looks a little ridiculous.

Story wise, I didn't really get into it until about halfway through. The ball really gets rolling after the diner scene (with guest voice Kevin Smith as the diner owner) with the aforementioned rooftop battle and then the climax of the film. The beginning was just setup and I understand, but they could have sped it up a little. What really makes it interesting is that there is some unexpected developments for Winters and I won't say any more as it could be construed as a spoiler. Let's just say that there is a twist or two that I didn't see coming that made for a nice touch.

Casting - What can you really say about voice acting except that when it works, you buy it without question. Sarah Micelle Gellar, Chris Evans (Johnny Storm from Fantastic Four) and the Turtles are a good example. But, when it doesn't work it sticks out like a sore thumb. Case in point, Master Splinter. Now I don't want to speak ill of the deceased but Mako just wasn't right. Every incarnation of TMNT has always had a raspy voiced Splinter and while the character and his actions were the same, the voice just didn't work for me. And that my friends, brings me to my major issue: Patrick Stewart as Max Winters. Not only is the character design a bit over the top, but with Stewart's extremely singular voice I just couldn't get the picture of Picard/Xavier out of my head. That may just be me though.

All in all TMNT is a pretty faithful blend of the first two live action films and the original comics while still having a tone of it's own. With great animation and a healthy dollop of humor, you won't be disappointed. Now you purists out there may have noticed that I haven't mentioned where this fits in with existing continuity. And honestly, it doesn't really matter but if you really want to know, TMNT supposedly is a "loose" sequel that takes place between the first and the second live action movie even though there are some nods to all three movies. Mainly in Splinters trophy room.

For Turtle and animation fans, go see this at the theater. For non-fans or casual fans, this is a good jumping on point as well as a way to get a taste of what the TMNT are all about without having to watch the dreadful cartoon series.

Cowabunga dudes and dudettes!

(All Photos Copyright © Warner Bros.)

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