I expect those over the age of 30 to pay little heed, therefore I'll quickly summarise. TMNT is a loose sequel to the live-action Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie. Like Superman Returns, it is a sequel, but we're invited to forget the events of the latter two, terrible additions to the franchise: The Secrets Of The Ooze and Turtles In Time.

Arch-enemy The Shredder is defeated, presumed dead, Leonardo (James Arnold Taylor) is in exile, on a mission by Master Splinter (Mako) to hone his skills and become a better leader. The passionate Raphael (Nolan North) turns vigilante and stalks the criminal element of the city. Meanwhile, immature Michaelangelo (Mikey Kelly) works as a party entertainer and tech genius Donatello (Mitchell Whitfield) is left to deal with IT support queries from clueless users.

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Splinter forbids any surface contact until Leonardo returns. All the while the Foot Clan are still loose in the city, under the pay of industrialist Max Winters (Patrick Stewart), looking for 13 monsters to break a terrible curse. It's, frankly, rather daft, but exposition is brief.

The film has a visually striking look, a potently weird combination of The Polar Express's virtual cinematography and Spider-Man 2's dazzling dexterity. The film is soaked in delightful detail, New York dressed up to the urban-cesspit nines, and given beautiful comic-book framing.

The scope widescreen is effectively used in partitioning space, lending the film a half-baked, epic quality, and the camera freedom is fun to watch. Watch early on as Michaelangelo returns from work, surfing the sewers as the camera dodges every which way trying to keep up with him. Also, the level of detail in the CG work is exceptional, clean, effective and stylised. A standout is a climactic rooftop fight in the rain, blanched with red neon. It's just violent enough to stay within the PG rating. (Also, the lack of ninja weapon fetishising is noticeable; they're used, but the camera does not linger.)

There are a couple of major plot holes, but the film realises that thick exposition could kill the momentum - and therefore, like Ghostbusters, embraces the silliness as part of the fun. The main thrust of the story is between Leonardo and Raphael's authority conflict, the other turtles are barely used.

The all star cast (Sarah Michelle Gellar and Chris Evans as April O'Neill and Casey Jones) are often distracting and unconvincing in their roles. The turtles themselves are well-voiced, I can't help but smile as Raphael utters "We are ninjas!" in his thick New York accent.

This is the Turtles movie that I'd have loved as a boy.

Reviewed on: 19 Mar 2007
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The heroes in a half shell are back on the big screen.
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Stephen Carty ***

Director: Kevin Munroe

Writer: Kevin Munroe, based on the comic books created by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird

Starring: Chris Evans, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Mitchell Whitfield, James Arnold Taylor, Nolan North, Mikey Kelley, Mako, Patrick Stewart, Laurence Fishburne, Kevin Michael Richardson, Ziyi Zhang, Fred Tatasciore, Paula Mattioli, John Di Maggio

Year: 2007

Runtime: 100 minutes

BBFC: PG - Parental Guidance

Country: US


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