The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles raise ‘shell' in serviceable CGI


on March 23, 2007 by Annlee Ellingson
Set after the defeat of their archenemy The Shredder, TMNT finds that the adolescent crime-fighting terrapins have grown apart: Leader Leonardo has been sent by their rat sensei Splinter (voiced by the late Mako) on a globetrotting training mission. Tech-head Donatello has been reduced to providing telephone technical support. And fun-loving Michelangelo puts his good nature to work as birthday-party entertainer “Cowabunga Carl,” a clown-for-hire in a, ahem, turtle suit. Also in costume is hotheaded Raphael, who sleeps all day after secretly dispensing vigilante justice as “The Nightwatcher” after dark. But, when the team discovers that a wealthy industrialist is rounding up an army of ancient monsters, they must put their differences aside and fight side by side—as brothers.

Based on a spoof superhero comic book that launched in 1984 and spawned action figures, cartoon TV series and videogames, this CGI version follows the three live-action films that were released in the 1990s (and, by the way, collectively grossed more than $250 million domestically). Voice work by Chris Evans ( Fantastic Four ), Sarah Michelle Gellar ( Buffy the Vampire Slayer ), famous comic-book fan Kevin Smith, Patrick Stewart ( X-Men ) and Ziyi Zhang (the martial arts extravaganza Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon ) references the pop culture that the original, now-grown fans of the franchise are now consuming, but the ‘toon plays it safe for family audiences who will respond to the themes of brotherhood and better tolerate the rather silly storyline. Stylized animation works well for the smooth, shiny surfaces of the amphibians, but the humans move stiffly, like something out of a videogame. Distributor: Warner Bros.
Voices: Chris Evans, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Mako, Kevin Smith, Patrick Stewart, Ziyi Zhang and Laurence Fishburne
Director/Screenwriter: Kevin Munroe
Producers: Thomas K. Gray, H. Galen Walker and Paul Wang
Genre: Animated action comedy
Rating: PG for animated action violence, some scary cartoon images and mild language
Running time: 87 min.
Release date: March 23, 2007

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