TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES (Jonathan Liebesman). 101 minutes. Opens Friday (August 8). For venues and times, see Movies. Rating: NN
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was a thin joke at best, even in its original one-shot comic book form. Take three 80s comics clichés - teens, mutants and ninjas - and warp the concept by making them turtles. But the fans loved it. The comics ran for more than 25 years and spawned four TV series, four features and a ton of merchandise.
The present incarnation dials back the humour to make way for action-movie bombast that only occasionally succeeds but too often descends into visual incoherence. What little comedy remains got only a few weak chuckles in the kid-heavy preview audience, and the action drew not much wow response till the extended climax.
The flick's most notable features are the orgy of in-your-face 3D, ably enhanced by dozens of dizzying overhead shots and an oppressive score that strives mightily to lend weight to every moment. Sadly, leaden sound does much to crush whatever humour remains.
The off-the-shelf plot and characters are so tissue-thin they make the Turtles' 1990 outing look like Hamlet: four turtles and a rat mutate and develop martial arts skills to battle the evil Foot Clan and its plan to dominate New York City.
Not much is gained from the addition of Megan Fox as a plucky reporter and Will Arnett as her love-struck camera operator.