TMNT (Kevin Munroe). 82 minutes. Opens Friday (March 23). For venues and times, see Movies, page 89. Rating: NN Rating: NN
The first wave of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was so close to my heart as a kid (had the action figures, owned a VHS copy of TMNT 2: The Secret Of The Ooze, with its radical Vanilla Ice cameo) that it's hard to trust anything that messes with the world's most fearsome fighting dudes' original formula.
In TMNT, Shrek-style hyper-detailed CGI textures replace the TV cartoon's simple animation and the first films' bulky costuming. Evil Shredder has already been defeated, which just feels wrong.
Compared to Shredder, Max Winters (voiced by Patrick Stewart) is a non-threatening bad guy. His right-hand man, Colonel Santino, may have glowing red eyes, but he's no Krang. April O'Neil (Sarah Michelle Gellar) has gone from gutsy reporter to some vague archaeology job. Original Turtle Raphael's snappy sarcasm is replaced by the voice of Nolan North sounding like Joe Mantegna doing Fat Tony on The Simpsons.
The plot about monsters from another dimension threatening to destroy Earth, and the heavy-handed emphasis on teamwork seem to come from a half-hour episode that's been padded out into a feature.
Rapid fight and chase sequences abound to hold kids' attention, but there wasn't much laughter at the child-dominated screening I attended.
Parents will be bored, while original Turtles fans will find this neither radical nor gnarly, dudes.