In 2007, there was a small wave of nostalgia going around as people who were children in the late 80's would be approaching their 30's at that time. So with that in mind, a new franchise that would play to the feelings of this target audience would be well timed.
TMNT was released in 2007 and received lukewarm reviews from fans. The film decided to go the animated route as well as take a more mature and serious tone to the proceedings.
Set loosely after the events of the 1990 film, the movie heavily focuses on the tension between Leonardo And Raphael while introducing a fresh plot which steers away from the usual Turtles fare.
The film looks amazing! Fans highly praised the animation style and the more serious take on the lore, with subtle nods to all incarnations of the franchise marbled throughout. The Turtles themselves often resemble their comic counterparts, with heavy shadows and white eyes in scenes, but also pays tribute to the cartoon personalities just enough to be familiar.
The problem with TMNT, and probably the reason that opinion's are mixed on it, is that the plot just isn't that interesting. It was a brave move for writer/director Kevin Munroe to not go with established villains, but it just didn't pay off, and as such Shredder is sorely missed. Patrick Stuart is admirable as Max Winters, but again he's just not that interesting a character, and it's hard to latch onto him after only a short exponential backstory and some limited screentime.
The film can be a little drawn out and boring too, although it's most certainly of very high quality. However, you can reach halfway through the film and only one exciting scene has happened by then. One does realise the time it must take to produce a good and frantic action scene in an animated environment, but it'd be worth taking that time to produce a better end product. This would have been a prime film to introduce Krang & Co. as beings from Dimension X would not only have been much more interesting than the historical McGuffin, but it would have been far better fan service too.
The film has some great moments through it, and the quality is top notch throughout. The throwdown between Raph and Leo is tremendous, and is possibly the highlight of the movie. The casting choices are also good, with Buffy herself, Sarah Michelle Gellar, voicing April O' Neil, and Chris "The Cap" Evans as Casey Jones. The late Mako seems a little more subdued in his role as Splinter, but it's good performances all round.
Today. TMNT is still a solid film with loads to enjoy. The animation is perhaps beginning to show it's age a little in movement, but it still looks amazingly lush, and is well worth being in any Turtles fans collection.
Turtles Forever (2009)
Turtles Forever is based on the 2003 cartoon series, but also serves as a crossover movie with previous incarnations of the Turtles - most notably the 1987 cartoon.
The plot follows the 2003 Turtles as they discover their 1987 counterparts in their universe and find out that they have crossed dimensions during a battle within the Technodrome. 1987 Shredder and Krang have also been transported to the 2003 Universe and become slaves of Ultrom Shredder and his daughter.
The film adheres to the high standards of it's 2003 series with some quality art and animation, but it is when the Turtles cross over to the other dimensions that the film really comes in to it's own. The 1987 dimension has been lovingly and painstakingly re-created down to an absolute tee, and it looks fantastic. All the small details have been included, and it really does feel like you are watching the old show. The concept of a cross-dimensional plot which challenges the entire idea of their existence and actually hints at them discovering they are fictional is an absolutely brilliant one.
It's a shame then that the film is almost completely ruined for showing the 1987 Turtles an almost complete lack of respect. The '87 counterparts are portrayed as monumentally goofy and dumb with zero serious side to them, which is both highly inaccurate and quite insulting. The '87 cartoon had it's daft moments for sure, but it was never, ever this stupid. The entire film basically consists of the 2003 characters ripping the absolute piss out of the 1987 version, with the writers taking the grubby and easy route of pandering to generational differences and the rather slimy "old is bad new is good" mentality in which there was no need for at all.
1987 Shredder gets it worst. He is treated like a complete bitch by Ultrom Shredder and is nothing more than a clown. Considering that '87 Shredder was in fact, a Ninja Master, and actually quite a badass in the 1987 series, especially in the earlier episodes, it's a really a shit thing to do.
It doesn't help matters that absolutely NONE of the original 1987 voice cast return to reprise their roles due to some union rules which made them too expensive for 4kids to consider. Perhaps it was a blessing in disguise as it would have been tragic to hear James Avery, who sadly passed away in 2013, voice a Shredder who is portrayed as a complete sap.
Rob Paulsen, who voiced the original 1987 Raphael, had a very grim opinion on the casting for Turtles Forever. In particular, he did not appreciate Sebastian Arcelus trying to mimic own vocal style for Raphael, even being quoted as saying "I'm sure this Sebastian Arcelus person is a nice guy, but all I'm saying is that I don’t want him using the same water fountains as me and I sure as HELL don’t want him dating my daughter."
The film recoups some points in it's climax when we are transported to the 'Turtle Prime' dimension, which is basically the old black and white Mirage comic book. Here we see the original Turtles who are tough as nails, and its quite a treat to see them in animated form.
It's still quite an enjoyable film, and it is fun to see all the crossovers. A shame then that the makers decided to alienate the franchise's core group of fans in order to get a few cheap laughs.
Turtles Forever had the potential to be the best ever Turtles film, as there are some proper geek out moments aplenty along with some great fan service. Sadly, it's let down by some pretty disgraceful mocking of the very thing that was responsible for the phenomenon in the first place.
Teenage mutant Ninja Turtles (2014)
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was released in 2014 with a budget of 125 million, and was met with harsh to mixed reviews from fans.
The very fact that Michael "Fuck the fans" Bay's name appears in the production pretty much sealed it's fate, and although he didn't direct the film, his greasy paw prints are all over it in everything from the look, to the casting, to the changes...oh the changes!
I'll sum up early on - it's not a bad film, but it's not a great film either, and it's certainly not a good Turtles film. So, instead of going into a long winded rant about it, I'll pull up some bullet points about just what the hell is wrong with it.
- The Turtles are now secondary characters in their own franchise. The movie focuses mostly on April O' Neil, presumably to save on CGI costs.
- Splinter is a dick. Really he is, and he seems like a total bully to the Turtles which zaps any sort of empathy or even sympathy for the character. He's now American too. *Sigh*
- A poor villain in Sacks, who not only has a name that makes you think of balls, but who's motivation is just a get rich quick scheme. Plus, the fact we are meant to believe that this man, who looks about mid to late 40's, was raised by the Shredder, is nonsense. Logically, that would make old cheese grater AT LEAST in his 60s.
- The Foot now seem to be some sort of terrorist merc team now rather than ninjas.
- Changing the origin so that Splinter learns and becomes a Ninjutsu master within a few years from a f**king BOOK and THEN trains the Turtles is borderline insulting.
- Everything is connected in a very silly way now by more changes to the origin which made the Turtles and Splinter April's childhood pets. This means that they have no past connection to Hamato Yoshi, The Foot, The Shredder, or the art of ninjutsu in any way (hence the flimsy book excuse).
- The Turtles themselves are now 8 feet tall with super strength, and are......bulletproof (mother of god!). This makes their Ninjutsu skills absolutely pointless as they now have no need for stealth and deception.
- The end is almost identical to The Amazing Spider-Man. They were just chucking in ideas from anywhere at that point.
- Megan "Sammiches" Fox (©Jeremy Jahns 2011) as April O' Neil. Ok she's serviceable (HA!), but watching the film you really just get the impression she's only there for the camera to follow her ass around in tight jeans. There are FAR better choices for this character out there than Sammiches, but you get the impression that they really weren't explored at all.
If there are any positive points to say about the film it's that the Turtles themselves are really good. They got their personalities are down to a tee, and I really like the way they have been individualised and are all slightly different sizes and builds. Of course they couldn't even get that fully right. Their faces are a mess and look like someone who has taped their nose back and gave themselves pigface. Their personalities also seem to have been updated from surf dudes to some sort of modern hip-hop thing, which is ok for the most part, but it does occasionally give off a bit of a feel similar to the much hated jive-talkin' robots in Revenge Of The Fallen.
I won't go so far to say that the film is unwatchable becasue it's not, but it certainly is a lazy, messy, and arrogant attempt to reboot a beloved franchise with not a lot of care involved.
Out Of The Shadows (2016)
A trailer was dropped in early 2016 and the film surprisingly appeared to be paying heavy fan service with the first ever live action versions of Krang & Baxter Stockman as well as the return of The Shredder. The trailer got fans of the franchise excited as the producers appear to actually be listening to what is wanted plus the film sees a new director take the helm.
TMNT: OOTS is a vast improvement over the first film. Director David Green claims to be a huge fan of the franchise and it's true you can feel the warmth come off the screen a hell of a lot more than the last instalment.
The film does what all the others should have and puts the Turtles themselves right at centre of the film with the 4 green brothers getting the lion's share of screentime.......as it should have been......as it should be! The Turtles are just as good in this film as they were in the last one and some slight altering to the CGI means that from certain angles they look like their 80's/90's counterparts somewhat although the faces are still hideously inappropriate. April 'Sammiches' O'Neil is shoved firmly to the back in a welcome move and only appears as much as she needs to which makes her presence almost unnoticeable. Humorously when she is in the wig near the start of the film she actually resembles her character quite a bit only for it to descend into fap model crap when it comes off again.
The central theme is one of acceptance and as such Shredder, Krang and the Technodrome don't actually get a lot of screen time (in fact they are hardly in it at all) but it is tremendous to finally see a live action version of these famous characters and....things and it's pulled off rather well. Baxter Stockman was hugely enjoyable even with the Nutty Professor vibe he had going on but again not that much screen time.
There are nods to older incarnations of the turtles everywhere including quite a nice little melody that is too similar to a section in the 'Shedder's Suite' score from the 1990 film to be coincidence.
The film has flaws though. Steven Amell is totally unconvincing as Casey Jones and aside from a couple of scenes with the mask he neither acts nor looks anything like the scruffy wiseass character he's meant to be playing. Some parts seem noticeably rushed too in order to get to the point or include some obviously forced exposition which makes the pacing seem a bit shallow and the third half does have quite a draggy feel to it.
The biggest downer is that you can still see Michael Bay's greasy, ego maniac, sex register sleazeball paw prints all over the film right down to some of the camera angles and the music but in it's defence this film has a lot more heart and sincerity towards the source material then the first one ever did.
It's still not a great film but overall it's a decent and solid enough Turtles movie for casual viewers and for hardcore followers of the franchise alike and one that's well worth checking out for the admirable amount of fan service.