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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Review

 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 1

Director: Jonathan Liebesman.

Cast: William Fichtner, Will Arnett, Megan Fox, Whoopi Goldberg.

Certificate: 12A.

Running Time: 101 minutes.

Synopsis: Thirty years on from their comic book inception, Leonardo, Donatello, Michelangelo, and Raphael, are back once more to take down nemesis Shredder.

In the eighties and early nineties the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles had children the world over in frenzy. The very successful cartoon series spawned a trilogy of films before the series got overtaken by the likes of The Power Rangers. TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES is the latest restart of the comic book franchise that started thirty years ago. After the disappointing animated films a few years ago the heroes in a half-shell are back in action, managing to encapsulate the fun and fantasy of the 1980’s cartoon series.

And what of the pizza loving team? Liebesman easily manages to display the four different personalities that we all know to be Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael and Michelangelo. To steal from the popular theme tune Leonardo leads, Donatello does the machinery, Raphael is cool but rude and Michelangelo is the epitome of a surfing party dude. There will be a turtle for every child (and adult) to identify with, though our time with the group is all too short.

Don’t let the title of the film trick you, this film, although featuring the awesome foursome, is all about April O’Neil. It transpires that this incarnation of the wily reporter is just starting out her career in journalism and is desperate to become a crime reporter. Fox’s version also has some very strong ties with Splinter and the turtle teens that go way back. We experience the story from her viewpoint almost entirely, burdening Megan Fox with the job of trying to hold the film together. She does an OK job, all things considered, but in a film entitled ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’, you would expect to see more of them rather than their side-kick.

Last year THN sat down with TMNT actor William Fichtner who warned that we were in for a treat with the visuals of the amphibian quartet. Having now seen the film, we can confirm that Fichtner wasn’t lying. Vastly superior to the men in rubber suits of the first film series, this time they are a combination of motion-capture performance and CG artistry. The result is a rather menacing brood of heroes who are believable mutants. The best of the group though is Splinter, he genuinely looks like a giant rat and, spoiler alert, it isn’t a pretty sight. The letdown of the CG unfortunately has to be The Shredder, it’s not necessarily bad CG, just a little over the top. The villain, rather than looking mean and dangerous, looks more like a cross between Edward Scissorhands and Robocop.

There were a few groans when director Michael Bay was announced as being involved in the project, we all had images of the sewer-dwelling turtles only fighting crime at sun-down or up. Thankfully though Bay didn’t manage to enforce his stereotyped influence so we get to see the turtles taking down the bad guys around the clock, though mainly at darkest night (it’s better cover for ninjas).

Although a film aimed squarely at the tween market, which will eat the film up, there are enough nods to the original comics, cartoons, films etc. to keep the grown-ups happy. They even get in a few digs about the meltdown fans went into when they thought that this remake was going to have the turtles as aliens.

As a fan of the cartoons it would have been nice to see a few more of the iconic characters. Surely in today’s computer effects world we could have had a believable Krang – but I get that is what sequels are for.

TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES is a wild and wacky ride through the sewers of sentiment for adults of a certain age, and a totally tubular trip for youngsters.

 [usr=3] TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES hits cinemas everywhere from today. 

Kat Hughes is a UK born film critic and interviewer who has a passion for horror films. An editor for THN, Kat is also a Rotten Tomatoes Approved Critic. She has bylines with Ghouls Magazine, Arrow Video, Film Stories, Certified Forgotten and FILMHOUNDS and has had essays published in home entertainment releases by Vinegar Syndrome and Second Sight. When not writing about horror, Kat hosts micro podcast Movies with Mummy along with her five-year-old daughter.


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