Sunday, March 25, 2007
TMNT: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
2007, on the big screen
You should know
Ah, generational kids’ shows. I was a tiny bit too young to appreciate Transformers. I loved Ghostbusters, though I barely remember any of the episodes. And I’ll even admit to a mild fondness for the glory days of both Power Rangers and Pokemon.
But the first show I was really into, the one that got me buying videos and action figures, was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
So when the movie came out, Brian and I made plans to catch it opening weekend.
The movie takes place later in the timeline than the other well-known continuities. The Shredder is out of the picture, and the Turtles are all doing their own things: IT, catering, and two different flavors of vigilantism, to be precise. Before long, the brothers are reunited, and the eternal power struggle between Leonardo and Raphael emerges.
Now, I’m going to try to avoid spoilers by discussing this in the context of my memories of the franchise as a whole. It seems to me that in every incarnation, Raphael has problems with authority in general, and hypocritical authority in specific. Unfortunately, Leonardo as the leader has to deal with the former struggle, and as a perfectionist has to deal with the latter. In the conflict of the current film, Raphael is his typical, less-than-sympathetic self, but ultimately I side with him; the things Leonardo criticizes the most are the very same things that Leonardo himself did, causing the rift in the first place. And if you haven’t yet seen the movie, I’ve probably just confused you.
Now, every review I’ve read has deemed this movie darker than the first of the live-action films. It’s rated PG. There’s violence, references to killing, and a mild implication of sex: the unmarried romantic leads live together – hardly unheard of, but surprising in a kids’ movie. And that’s just it: I was not surprised to see that most of the audience was under 10, but I’m not convinced it was a movie for little kids.
All in all, it was an entertaining film, and stayed faithful enough to my memories of the Turtles. Yes, it was a bit darker and not quite as cartoonish, but I’m not 5 anymore, so that works for me. Maybe the youngest audience members should have been shown video of the old cartoon instead, but those of us who saw that incarnation the first time around will be pleased.
A bit of advice
It’s tough to bring kids to the movies. Can your kid handle sitting still? Can he or she keep quiet for an hour or two at a time? How does he or she handle the dark, or loud noises? You know your kid, and I’m going to trust your judgment on this stuff: 90% of the kids at the theater were very well behaved (though I would submit that just because a character onscreen yells something, that isn’t license for a kids to yell it back three or four times – but then, I’m fairly anti-catchphrase).
All that said, here is a bit of unsolicited advice.
If you know your child is going to play with things at duller moments, don’t give her hard candy in a plastic or cardboard box. It makes a lovely maraca, which is a terrible movie-time toy.
If he’s going to be distraught that the whole family can’t sit together, show up extra-early and make sure you all get seats together.
Try for the end of the row, if you think your kid is going to have to get up during the film.
Once your seats have been claimed, take turns going to the bathroom while the commercials are running; you don’t need to see another Sprite ad anyway.
And while soda is a fun treat, adult bladders can’t handle the giant gallon cups, and most of us can’t quite tolerate all that sugar and caffeine. You know what drinking a 2-liter of Coke would do to you. Why do the same to your child? Especially when she’s going to have to pee, run around, climb over all the other people in the row, and burn off energy by playing with her candy.
Now, you don’t have to take any of my advice; I don’t have kids, so I wouldn’t suggest that I know better than someone who does. These are just some ideas on how the movie-going experience might go smoothly for you, your children, and the folks sitting next to, behind, or in front of you.
And I do want to express my appreciation to that 90% of kids who were well-behaved, and to their parents, who taught them well and prepared wisely for the trip.
More for older fans
It’s not a bad film for older kids, but as I noted, younger ones might not be able to handle the more intense movie. Then again, older kids are probably in that in-between area – too young to have seen it in the late ‘80s, early ‘90s, but too old to have watched the 2003 cartoon.
The rest of the Internet
Beware of spoilers
The turtles have their own MySpace pages.
The film's Wikipedia page.
Fans liked it more than critics at Rotten Tomatoes.
The video game.
And one from The Village Voice.
Ryan at Reel Opinions weighs in, as does Scott at Cinematical.
Check out the original comic books.