TMNT is the abbreviated computer animated theatrical movie that gave the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles their edge back. Similar to what the 2003 animated series did on TV. Apart from the divisive Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation and some truly awful specials, it was 14 years since the live-action trilogy ended. Although the Turtles are synonymous with animation, I wasn’t expecting a CGI film. The humanless teaser trailer didn’t really make that clear though. I was intrigued by the idea, but I didn’t want to see TMNT in theaters. Although it can be interpreted as a continuation, TMNT is mostly its own thing. The obscure Imagi Animation company did a great job of stylizing New York and the fast paced action of the Turtles.
TMNT sums up the origin of the Turtles in narration, but still has to spell out their names and personality traits for the non-fans. You’d think an animated movie would be the most comedic (and pizza filled), but TMNT is really the most moody Turtles movie ever made. Which works well for the sibling rivalry of Leonardo and Raphael, but it reduces Michelangelo and Donatello to glorified extras. The Turtles are suddenly split up. Leo is off learning to be a better leader fighting bandits in Central America. Donnie is doing IT tech support in the sewers and Mikey is performing at kids birthday parties. Leaving Raph to pick up the crime-fighting slack as the dark armor clad vigilante the Nightwatcher. Each Turtle is portrayed by a voice actor that does a good job at imitating the usual voices we expect.
The rest of the cast is filled with big name actors. This was sadly Mako’s last performance as a traditional Master Splinter. Chris Evans once again stretches his superhero muscles as the hockey masked Casey Jones. Sarah Michelle Gellar has a lot to do as an April O’Neil who now owns a shipping company. She’s also dating Casey, goes on adventures, and knows how to fight in a yellow bodysuit. Although Shredder is always preferable, he’s already defeated with well known comic ninja Karai leading the Foot Clan. The real threat is an immortal businessman voiced by Patrick Stewart who unleashed monsters on the world. It’s needlessly complicated, but an okay change of pace. When they finally get back together, the Turtles end up fighting the monsters and saving the world together. But the most well executed fight is the tense rooftop duel between Leo and Raph. TMNT isn’t a very fun “Cowabunga!,” but it is the most underrated adventure.