Spectacular, fast paced, and uneven throughout, the latest outing for the Ninja Turtles is a wonderfully realized animated adventure that strives to appeal to all fans of the early ‘90s pop culture icons. Some rough plot points, rather generic villains, and a direct focus on only two of the Turtles are its downfall. However, there’s enough meat here to make this new vision a solid entry for the franchise.
It’s immediately apparent that this is a stunning film to look at. Animation studio Imagi has brilliantly crafted this TMNT film to mix the original comic book stylings and more familiar lighter toned cartoon. The result is a set of fluid moving turtles, whose acrobatic set is a joy to watch.
The story is a disappointment, as the film focuses on rather generic monsters that supposedly walked the Earth for 3,000 years without anyone noticing them in the middle of New York. Alternate dimensions and cheap monsters were a trademark of the early cartoon series, and there’s barely a true villain for the film to focus on. Granted, it’s nice to see something else other than trademark nemesis Shredder, but this new set of foes doesn’t make much of an impact.
TMNT is not a film about fighting evil though. Its focus is on brotherhood, and the Turtles struggle to find a reason for their existence without anyone threatening their home since the defeat of the Foot Clan. Raphael and Leonardo lead the film for the majority of the running time, leaving Donatello and Michelangelo to take background roles to the growing distance between their brothers.
This does lead to one of the most memorable and spectacular animated sequences in all of animated films. Raph and Leo clash in a rooftop battle in a massive downpour that is simply unmatched in visual splendor. It’s also an emotional sequence, harkening back to the first Turtles effort in 1990.