Movie review: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is a watchable reboot of 1980s comic book franchise

The blue-masked Leonardo leads a team of mutant ninja turtles in fighting crime.
The blue-masked Leonardo leads a team of mutant ninja turtles in fighting crime. PHOTO: UIP

Review Action Fantasy


102 minutes/Opens tomorrow/***

The story: The Foot Clan headed by the vicious Shredder is responsible for a crime wave hitting New York City. Intrepid reporter April O'Neil (Megan Fox) stumbles upon an unlikely force fighting back - teenage mutant ninja turtles - and discovers her link to them.

This is a film that is fully aware of the ridiculousness of four human-sized turtles executing ninja moves and embraces instead of belittles it.

The quartet of Leonardo, Michelangelo, Raphael and Donatello first appeared in a comic book in 1984 and have proven to be impressively long-living reptiles. The franchise has spawned three animated TV series, with the latest one currently ongoing, a live action series and four feature films.

The last big-screen outing, TMNT (2007), was a CGI-animated flick that did not go down too well with critics, though. This reboot ventures into similar territory by mixing live action with computer animation through motion capture.

Most importantly, director Jonathan Liebesman (Wrath Of The Titans, 2012) has retained the lightly comic vibe of wisecracking and squabbling turtles as they go about fighting crime.

He teases the audience for a while before showing them what the latest version of the turtles look like. They come across like Yoda on steroids and in a shell. Then they open their mouths and out spews teenspeak, particularly from Michelangelo - and all is indeed familiar and well.

There is even a signature "Cowabunga!" or two unleashed in the proceedings.

Apart from the different coloured masks they wear, the turtles are also distinguished by their personality. Orange for fun-loving Michelangelo (Noel Fisher), purple for geeky bespectacled Donatello (Jeremy Howard), red for hot-blooded Raphael (Alan Ritchson) and blue for leader Leonardo (Pete Ploszek).

Still, it can get a little confusing telling them apart at times, even though Jackass star Johnny Knoxville voices Leonardo, presumably because he is more well known.

The story itself is fairly straightforward as it pits Shredder and his clan of baddies against master rat Splinter and his protege turtles with a decent chase sequence down a snowy slope.

Megan Fox (Transformers, 2007) fulfils the requisite hot-girl quotient, while Will Arnett (from comedy series Arrested Development) provides some laughs as a cameraman besotted with her.

With a watchable reboot successfully accomplished, it looks like the turtles have managed to extend their shell-life yet again.

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