Review: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

May 1, 2006 at 12:40 AM (Movies)

New York City — a crimewave sweeps the city.  No one knows who is behind these crimes, although News Reporter April O’Neil (Judith Hoag) suspects that The Foot (a clan modelled after one that was operating in Ancient Japan) are responsible.  Who will come to the city’s rescue?  The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles — turtles mutated by a radioactive ooze, trained in ninjutsu by their master Splinter (himself a mutated rat), who live in the sewers and love pizza — that’s who!

The Foot is an organised crime ring headed by the evil Shredder, who will stop at nothing to destroy the Turtles — and when the Foot abduct Splinter, it’s up to the Turtles to rescue him (they’re helped by April, and ex-sports star Casey Jones, played by Elias Koteas) and bring down the crime ring.

The first movie in the trilogy became one of the highest-grossing independent films ever.  Based on the comic by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird, this first big-screen outing of the TMNT serves as an origin story as well as an interesting Turtles adventure.  Despite the primary intended audience being kids, this movie still retains some of the darker, more violent tone of the comics (some of the events in the film — the fight at the "2nd Time Around" antique store and the subsequent farmhouse scenes — are directly taken from the early comics), and as a result it should be entertaining for older audiences also.  The fight scenes are well staged, and the story is involving.

Jim Henson’s Creature Shop were responsible for bringing the TMNT to life, and the outfits look very convincing.  Especially remarkable are the scenes where the Turtles are required to emote — thanks to the mastery behind the costumes and the good voicework/script, these are also very effective.  Actually, I thought all the characterisations worked very nicely (though this might be because I am already a fan).  I liked John DuPrez’s music score as well.

My rating: 8/10.  This was followed by Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze, which further advanced the radioactive ooze plot, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III, where the Turtles travelled back in time to 1603 Japan.  Coming in 2007 is an all-CGI TMNT film!


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