Friday, April 22, 2016

TMNT

1.5/4

Starring (voices): James Arnold Taylor, Nolan North, Mikey Kelley, Mitchell Whitfield, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Patrick Stewart, Chris Evans, Mako, Ziyi Zhang

Rated PG for Animated Action Violence, Some Scary Cartoon Images and Mild Language

Watching "TMNT," I thought to myself, "At least it's not as bad as the last iteration that, despite earning universal derision, made enough money to warrant a sequel.  I also thought to myself, that's a totally backhanded compliment.

Unlike the disaster that made my Bottom 10 list two years ago, "TMNT" didn't threaten to drive me insane.  It's just deadly dull.  The story doesn't make a lot of sense, the action scenes are boring, and the jokes are lame.  For a movie that never had a hope of being taken seriously, that's a strike out.

After defeating the Foot Clan, their bitter rivals, the Turtles are bored.  Leonardo (Taylor) has gone to Central America for training, which builds a lot of resentment in his brother Raphael (North), who strikes out on his own as a lone superhero, dubbing himself "Nightwatcher."  Michelangelo (Kelley) is an entertainer at birthday parties for kids while Donatello is an IT guy.  Their friend April O'Neil (Gellar) is has a business finding and delivering ancient artifacts.  Her employer, Mr. Winters (Stewart), isn't who he says he is, however, and the Turtles will need to get their acts together to stop the apocalypse.

At bare minimum, the screenplay needed at least one more rewrite.  Preferably two to punch up the dialogue and the jokes.  Characterization is also weak; I could only tell the Turtles apart by what color bandana they had and what they were doing.  Aside from Raphael and to a lesser extent Leonardo, their personalities are virtually interchangeable.  Michelangelo and Donatello have essentially nothing to do.

The voice acting is also lacking.  The actors who voice the Turtles all sound alike.  Patrick Stewart is nice to hear, if only because there's no mistaking his pipes (and his talent).  Sarah Michelle Gellar has a lot of energy, but the limitations of her range are frequently on display.  Chris Evans is mostly unrecognizable.  Ziyi Zhang is a disappointment.  The enormously talented Chinese beauty is flat and uncharismatic here, leading me to believe that she had zero interest in the role and did the bare minimum to collect her (hopefully hefty) paycheck.

A word must be said about the animation.  I will say that it is done well.  Too well, in fact.  It's so realistic that it is at odds with the story.  It's too finished, too smooth.  A little more cartoon in this cartoon could have helped things.  And a better screenplay.

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