MATT RAUB loves being a Turtle
Cowabunga, Dudes! Matt Raub here, back once again for my review of my pick for “Best Flick of 2007” – TMNT!
Now, before I do my business, a little history. I’m a 100% freak when it comes to anything and everything 80’s. From the music to the wacky neon fashion to the movies, and most important, the TV shows. From The Real Ghostbusters to M.A.S.K., I knew just about everything that needed to be known about cartoons in the 80’s. With that said, I was going into TMNT with roughly 50% excitement and 50% skepticism that we would get a repeat of the first three Turtles movies, which included (in no particular order): Vanilla Ice, time travel, and freckles.
With that said, I was nothing short of blown away by this flick. I caught myself jumping with excitement during the actions scenes and cackling obnoxiously at Michelangelo’s quips. Now, there aren’t a whole lot of CGI films that take my breath away, the exception being The Incredibles of course, mostly due to the need to dumb down the script to appeal to the legion of drooling nine-year-olds. But that wasn’t the case with TMNT. Instead of being a comedy with some action, this flick was all action with some comedy, and I loved it. While it did have some slapstick comedy to keep the toddlers at bay, there were so many more serious elements that I know had to have gone over the heads of the younger audience.
For those of you who aren’t sure where this film stands in comparison to the previous three, I’ll spell it out. This movie pulls a Superman Returns formula, but does it right. The story takes place about a year after the second film, erasing the Turtles in Time escapade completely from continuity (thanks!). With this continuity, we still get Casey Jones, April O’Neil, and a dead Shredder, but the characters all get a revamp, some for better and some not so much: April O’Neil is no longer a reporter, but a glorified Indiana Jones-archeologist type. What?? But like I said, this took the Superman formula and made it work. And no, April doesn’t end up having a half-turtle baby with Leonardo.
The star value of this flick is an interesting story, because where other CGI films spend most of their budget on big names (much like the rumored signing of Hugo Weaving voicing Megatron in Michael Bay’s Transformers later this summer) Turtles breaks the mold in having all relatively unknown actors voicing the turtles. I found this to work very well, because instead of hearing Kevin Bacon do Raphael, all I heard was Raphael, and that made the character that much stronger. Fans out there who still pine for name value still get Patrick Stewart as the main baddy Alex Winters, FF2‘s Chris Evans as Casey Jones, Sarah Michelle Gellar as the all-the-sudden-trained-in-martial-arts-hottie April O’Neil (way to stay away from that stereotype, Buff!), and even the lovable fan boy Kevin Smith as the "Scared Diner.” So fret not, name-droppers, there are still plenty of your old friends to cling to in this flick.
As I mentioned earlier, this is an action movie with comedy, and that formula is proven nonstop throughout the film. The previous live-action films were limited by four stuntmen in rubber suits. But with the beauty of CGI, we got to see the wall-climbing, nun-chucking, butt-kicking action of what real mutant ninja turtles would do, and I loved it. My only hope is that the upcoming revamps of my childhood favorites such as Underdog, Transformers, and Speed Racer don’t go the way of Garfield 2: Tale of Two Kitties.
With that said, all-in-all I give TMNT a whopping 9/10 on the Mattometer (copyright still pending). Honestly, anybody sitting in the theater during this flick who doesn’t get even the least bit excited needs to have their pulse checked, because they very well could be a zombie. And speaking of zombies, don’t forget to check back with me in two weeks when we move away from the kiddy table on over behind the Adults Only room when I review Grindhouse! See Ya then!
Matt Raub also reviews movies for the ComicMix Podcast, available for your listening pleasure by scrolling down and clicking the appropriate button.