Written by El Articulo Definido
Every time the subject of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comes up, a friend of mine laments the day he was in a comic shop in California and his friend held up a copy of some new indie black and white comic with four turtles, and he merely responded, “No one is going to buy that, it’s oversized and in black and white …” Well, it turns out several people bought it and after two animated series, and three live action films, the Turtles are back in action, and here to stay. This time, in CGI.
Now I am really tempted to tell you what a shell of a good time this film is, or how it kicks shell and takes names … but I’ll resist the urge and spare you the bad puns! The thing about the Turtles is that the majority of fans grew up with the 90s cartoon show and, therefore, expect to see Shredder fighting it out with our four heroes. But anyone who has read the comics know that Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird went on to some very strange tales after Shredder’s defeat in the first story arc. The live-action movies attempted this, but fell a little short with the sequels. However, this new incarnation in CGI follows the map set out in those films, and with the general feeling of family felt in the comics, extremely well.
Kevin Munroe has brought the TMNT back in a big way. It has a similar dark feel to the first live-action film, but it’s not dark in that you can’t see the action, which was a major complaint that many had with the live action picture. When I spoke with Kevin Munroe at last year’s San Diego ComiCon he mentioned having sat down with the animators to watch The Third Man for specific lighting cues, and it is evident. The film is lit beautifully and “shot” really well. It doesn’t feel like just another animated feature. It feels very cinematic and very BIG!
Munroe uses the live-action films as a jumping off point, and even drops some props in there for reference to those films. Where we start is that Leonardo is living in South America to complete his training, but has stayed too long, which has resulted in a sort of breakdown of the family element; Michaelangelo is a “costumed” turtle for kids’ parties, Donatello is an IT Guy, and Raphael, unbeknownst to his brothers is taking on crime at night as an armored, motorcycle riding vigilante. However, something is brewing that is going to require the brothers to learn how to work together again, and they’re going to need the help of April O’Neil (who is a bit of a ninja herself this go ‘round) and Casey Jones.
There is a really neat story here that involves some monsters, The Foot Clan and an ancient General trapped for all eternity by his own immortality. At times it is difficult to determine who, amongst the non-turtles, is our antagonist, and in that, this film really held my attention. It’s fun, looks great, and just feels right. With each new incarnation of Turtles, something changes, but Munroe doesn’t seem to have missed a beat. I am really hoping there’s a sequel that captures the tone that has been set here. And, of course, I can’t wait to see the return of The Shredder via CGI!
I’m going to give this film a 7.5 or a B+, however you prefer to look at it. If ever there was a Turtles fan that dwelled within you, get yourself out to the theatre and see this movie.