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Movie Review

TMNT a.k.a. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

MPAA Rating: PG for animated action violence, some scary cartoon images and mild language

Reviewed by: John DeYoung
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Family, Kids
Genre:
Fantasy, CGI, Action, Adventure, Animation, Adaptation, Family, Kids
Length:
1 hr. 27. min.
Year of Release:
2007
USA Release:
March 23, 2007 (wide)
Copyright, Warner Brothers
Copyright, Warner Brothers
Copyright, Warner Brothers
Copyright, Warner Brothers
Copyright, Warner Brothers
Copyright, Warner Brothers
Copyright, Warner Brothers
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Warner Brothers

Can genetic mutations produce positive changes in living creatures?

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Adventures in the rainforest! Learn about the Creator of the universe by exploring His marvelous creation. Fun for the whole family with games, activities, stories, answers to children’s questions, color pages, and more! One of the Web’s first and most popular Christian Web sites for children. Nonprofit, evangelical, nondenominational.
Featuring: Patrick Stewart, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Chris Evans, Ziyi Zhang, Kevin Smith, Mako, James Arnold Taylor, Mikey Kelley, Mitchell Whitfield, Nolan North
Director: Kevin Munroe
Producer: Peter Laird, Francis Kao, Gary Richardson
Distributor: Warner Brothers

“Raising Shell In 2007”

Cowabunga dudes and dudettes! Those heroes in a half shell are back! Raphael, Donatello, Michelangelo and Leonardo all make up that fighting foursome, The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, in short “TMNT.” This computer animated adventure takes place years after our heroes defeated their number one nemesis, The Shredder and his evil entourage, The Foot. Now each of the turtles has taken on various responsibilities to pass the time, as well as growing apart as a family. Donatello became a call-in computer expert. Michelangelo does kids’ birthday parties and Leonardo went off to South America to train to become a better leader. The only member of the team still taking down small time hoods and criminals is Raphael, disguised as a metal clad crime buster.

However, when a rich tech industrialist, Max Winters (voiced by “X-Men” star, Patrick Stewart) unleashes an evil army of monsters and warriors, the turtles must put aside their differences and stop Winter’s fearsome force and The Foot, who has joined in Winter’s endeavors, from destroying the city and possibly taking over the world. Joining the turtles in their battle is one time journalist and now treasure hunter, April O’Neil (voiced by “Buffy’s” Sarah Michelle Gellar) and sporting equipment carrying vigilante, Casey Jones (voiced by “Fantastic Four’s” Human Torch star, Chris Evans). But this team isn’t complete without the wisdom from the all-knowing master rodent, Splinter (voiced by “Conan’s” star, Mako) guiding and trying to bring his family together so that city will be safe once more.

As I watched this movie, it was hard to decipher who the target audience was to be. The plot of “TMNT” was so deep and complex that even I found it difficult to follow at times, much less a youngling. For this being a turtle movie, it didn’t have the light heartedness that you would expect from a movie of this type. I kept thinking that if they wanted to make this into a serious super-hero movie like “Spider-Man,” “X-Men,” or “Batman Begins,” they should have not used “TMNT” to try and accomplish this. Trying to put “TMNT” in the same category as the other comic book-based contenders is like seeing Elmer Fudd doing Shakespeare. It can’t be taken (or done) seriously. What I also found was that some of the violence was a little over the top for younger viewers. Now I understand that there are supposed to be ninja fighting sequences and such, but at times, I just felt the images were just too extreme.

As for the animation, it was great. The turtles seemed so life-like, and the human characters looked pretty good. I especially liked the voices they chose to portray the characters. To pick, Gellar to voice April O’Neal was perfect. In all actuality, I think if they ever do another live action Turtle flick, Gellar would be my pick to play the adventurous aid to the fighting foursome. I also liked the fact they picked Mako to voice Splinter. His voice personifies a wise old Master that is definitely needed to bring Splinter’s character to life.

However, I cannot in good conscious give this movie a high recommendation, especially for kids. To parents, I would take heed before taking your child to see this movie. This is not the Turtles that you’re used to seeing. If you want your kids to see an awesome (as Donatello would say) Turtle flick, show them the first live action movie. If you’re an adult and a guiltily long-time Turtle’s fan (like me), my advise to you is wait for “TMNT” to come out on DVD. On a grading scale, I give “TMNT” a “D.”

Violence: Heavy / Profanity: None / Sex/Nudity: None

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


Viewer Comments
Comments below:
Positive
Positive—…I went into TMNT as someone who was a kid when the Turtles were HUGE in the early 1990s. I had low expectations for this film, but I was pleasantly surprised. I think the movie would have been disappointing if it were just a lighthearted chucklefest (and the Turtles are not just some silly concept—go back and read the original comics, they dealt with a lot of serious themes).

There are a lot of good lessons here for kids. Growing up with a family is not easy, there will be conflicts and times when you are angry at each other. But in the end, family is the most important thing. The Turtles movies have always been good at portraying disputes between the brothers and the family loyalty that ultimately brings them together, but this movie was particularly convincing.

You see the turtles moving a few years ahead in their lives, and they have started to diverge in different directions (as is bound to happen when teenagers get older). Raph has taken on a new crime-fighting persona, Don and Mike seem to be happy with average workaday jobs, and Leo has left to find himself in Central America.

I don’t think these more complex themes will be a problem for kids at all; the filmmakers knew what they were doing. Adults going for nostalgia reasons will be able to appreciate them while the kids will have a lot of eye candy in the animation and the big ninja fights. I also think that a lot of times we underestimate what kids are able to understand and appreciate. The violence is never graphic and let’s face it, it’s a ninja movie—it’s going to have some violence. But the Turtles always use their abilities to help other people and prevent crimes. Raph learns an important lesson when he breaks this rule and acts out of anger—he is clearly guilty about his own actions and turns to his father Splinter for forgiveness and guidance.

It’s nice to see that the Turtles have still got it. I would be comfortable showing this movie to any kid over the age of 8. If Eastern mysticism bothers you, this movie plays that down compared to some incarnations of the Turtles so it should not be a concern. There is no sex or nudity, no foul language but a lot of creative names thrown at the big ugly bad guys. Surprisingly, one character who seems to be a villain turns out to be someone correcting a huge mistake. There are fantasy elements but I don’t see it as anti-Christian. I say, take the kids and have a good time, because movies this entertaining and positive do not come along too often.
My Ratings: Good / 4
—Ben, age 26
Positive—I love the turtles, and I thought they did a great job bringing them over to the world of CGI. The movie is clean as a whistle action is great, and C’mon it’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles! You gotta love them.
My Ratings: Good / 5
—Tim Whitaker, age 18
Positive—This was an amazing movie. It is made for kids and ANYONE who liked the TMNT movies. It is witty, exciting, has a great story line. one of the best movies I’ve seen in a few years. Go see it, bring the kids.
My Ratings: Good / 5
—Nick, age 23
Positive—I loved this movie. I’m from the generation that grew up with the Turtles! And I do have to say I’m glad they are back!! I saw this movie with my Dad. And I can honestly say its a great family film. I know I am young. But I have grown up in the church all my life. And I am know entering the ministry field. And I could actually preach off of this film! THIS IS A MUST SEE!!!
My Ratings: Excellent! / 5
—Veronica, age 19
Positive—Fabulous! “TMNT” was as dark as the original movie, but with plenty of signature wisecracks thrown in. This movie’s focus was on relationships within the group, namely Raphael and Leonardo. The character development was done well, and the scenes with Splinter weren’t cheesy at all. The turtles learn about brotherhood, honor, and what true leadership is about. Beats the second and third movies.
My Ratings: Good / 5
—JB Cobb, age 22
Positive—“TMNT” is a Cool CGi Film. …A Must See Film.
My Ratings: Good / 5
—Alex Cain, age 27
Positive—…here is what EVERYONE needs to understand. The Ninja Turtles when they first started out Was NOOOOTTTT!!!… A LITTLE KIDS STORY! IT WAS A VERY ADULTERATED COMIC BOOK AND WAS MEANT FOR THE MATURE AUDIENCE AND WAS VERY VIOLENT. The Turtles were very, very violent in the comic when it was first published; the Turtles would kill their enemies, they would stab them, cut them, slay them, do all types of horrible things to the bad guys and that’s how it was and the comic took itself very seriously. Now when the time came that it became a cartoon it was reduced to Saturday morning cartoons “hello kids did you eat your green vegetables” type show now while it did help boost its popularity and made it mainstream the show was nothing like the original comic and this greatly disappointed a lot of the older fans which is why this movie is dark because this movie is trying to appeal to the original fans and younger fans alike(this is also why the first Ninja Turtles movie was some what dark and violent because again the original comic) Now this is me kinda in response to the review on top as to why this was a complex movie but now on to if its something a christian would like.

This is a good movie for the Christian audience I felt and it diff dealt with a lot of major conflict especially that of brother hood but this is something real that should not be ignored even for younger kids who face this with siblings, it surely does have morality and life lessons and the overall theme is this “Family Comes First” and this is the main point the movie gets across something that we as christians strongly try to get across to the masses. Overall, you will not be disappointed, and I think this is something for all ages.
My Ratings: Excellent! / 5
—Michael, age 19
Positive—Great movie… good story, strong morals, lots of action, no foul language, no sex. Dialogue’s a little campy here and there, but then again, kids are a part of the target audience—kids and fans of TMNT. That’s one of the things I love about “TMNT.” It’s for fans, or even folks like myself who are familiar with the basic characters and their stories. “TMNT” doesn’t start from the beginning, but rather it’s another chapter (one that’s easily accesible with just the slightest familiarity with this fantasy world) to these turtles' tale. Which brings me to another point… It has been a very long time since I’ve seen a movie with such good morals. There’s a great scene that takes place following an awful ordeal between Raphael and Leo. Raphael goes home with a heavy heart and consults the turtles' sensei Splinter, who offers words of comfort and stresses the need for leaders to have compassion and humility. After all, each of the brothers are to be leaders even if in small ways; Leo is not the only one. Who’s top dawg and who’s not obviously creates a lot of friction for some of the brothers. And while ALL four of the turtles don’t always get along, in the long run, they exhibit loyalty and forgiveness, among other admirable virtues. As I’ve said, “TMNT” has a good plot, and the end has a slight surprise—something that should catch you off guard. This is one flick worth checking out.
My Ratings: Good / 4
—Jacob Keenum, age 20
Positive—First time I’ve posted a comment, but am concerned at the number of people who gave this a good or higher moral rating. Surely a film about turtles that have been mutated into beings that can talk, think cognitively and have a conscience etc. is clearly not a “Biblical” film, unless I missed that bit in Genesis. And we’ll completely disregard the whole Ninja being a religious belief system bit as well shall we?! Is a good film and well made and I enjoyed it, but was worried that people are missing the point of the “moral rating”…
My Ratings: Offensive / 4
—Phil, age 25
Positive—This is what every turtle fan has been waiting for. Any fan of the comic books or even the old turtle movies will love this. It takes off after the events of the first 3 live action movies and plays as an addition to the series, rather than a remake. Having grown up on the 3 movies, it was enjoyable to recognize all the locations and characters in their new and improved CGI form.
My Ratings: Average / 4½
—Daniel Robison, age 18
Neutral
Neutral—I think the reviewer does not understand what TMNT was trying to do. That is probably why the movie gets drastically different ratings from Critics (low marks across the board) and fans (who seem to love this). The fact that it was tops at the box office should show that they knew their target audience quite well. Basically, the reviewer says that they were trying to make a “serious super-hero movie,” but the actual charm and humor come from treating such preposterous characters and plots with a stone face. That is called “camp,” in the more traditional sense of the word.

Now I agree that this is really too violent for young children, to whom it is aimed, and that is why I had to give a neutral opinion, but if you understand the approach to humor, it is really pretty good, and I did appreciate the pseudo-repentance (albeit not is a Christian context) of Patrick Stewart’s character.
My Ratings: Average / 3
—David, age 39
Comments from young people
Neutral—A friend of mine asked me to go with him to see a preview showing of this movie this afternoon. My initial reaction was “no!” but it was a free screening, so I figured it couldn’t hurt. While, the movie didn’t necessarily have anything objectionable, it was rather plotless and slow. The only thing that I found objectionable morally was the fact that two of the main characters (April and Casey) are unwed roommates. It makes reference to that once in the movie, but I don’t know that it would be something that very young children would pick up on. I have four siblings and wouldn’t find anything else objectionable in the movie. There was some mild violence—but considering the source, how violent can ninja turtles be in reality?…

In summary, it was an average 'good guys vs. bad guys' movie—with decent characters, entertaining animation, and a rather weak plotline. I’d see no problem with letting either of my brothers (ages 4 and 10) watch it when it comes out on DVD. But unless you’re a big fan—you might want to wait for DVD.
My Ratings: Average / 3½
—Lindsey B., age 16
Positive—I saw the “TMNT” movie on its premiere day on Friday. I have always been a fan so I reserved my tickets and decided to totally go for it. Ok first of all I have to admit the plot is a little bit “childish” It involves basically monsters that are going to take over the world under a guy named Max Winters.(maybe next time shred-head) Leo’s been gone for a while training in central america while the other turtles have been living without him in New York. Rapheal’s a vigilante. Donnatello is a computer technichian and Mikey is a “mascot” for childrens parties. Anyway everyone acts exactly as you think they would. Leonardo is known as “the fearless leader,” Rapheal is the tough one consumed by anger, Donnatello is the the brains of the bunch, and Michealangelo is the goofball. Anyone who expects the movie just to be just straight action against the “bad guys” is going to be dissapointed. There are a couple of scenes that show a little family feud in how Leo left the others and they’re falling apart. I sort of enjoyed this type of drama and not the origional kick the bad guys butt sort of thing. The movie is mostly about family and looking out for each other. I also like this movie more than the previous ones because of the morale behind the story and not just an action sequence.

The music to the movie is 'o.k.' The main score was the best throughout the movie. Some kids may get a little frightend by the monsters but its nothing too frightening eneough to leave the the theater.Anyway the CGI and lighting is absalutely terrific and it really looks and feels like the city of New York. The fight scenes look great in CGI and not the traditional live action costume fight scenes. In the end, TMNT is a movie that goes for the younger and older audience. I liked the movie a lot and I plan to see it again. I recommend the movie to anyone who is interested.
My Ratings: Good / 4
—Gerald, age 16