There comes a time in every Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle’s life when he needs to realize the world is changing and they must adapt to new circumstances. This time is called Teenage Mutant Ninja evolution, and it’s not to be confused with Teenage Mutant Ninja maturation, which apparently makes up the bulk of director Kevin Monroe’s modern “Turtles” update. Unfortunately, “TMNT” epitomizes how the development of our childhood cartoons has left them less than what they used to be. If your only reason to see this movie is nostalgia, then you actually have none.

Jessica Boullion
Dude … COWABUNGA! (Courtesy of Warner Bros.)

Conceived in 1984, the classic turtle band of four brothers named after famous artists found joy in eating pizza, sparring with each other, rescuing the sumptuous red-headed reporter April O’Neil and dueling with their tenacious arch nemesis, The Shredder. When we were kids and the turtles were just taking off, every episode, comic book, video game were all the same. Cowabunga: a proven formula.

Ten years later, it’s become readily apparent that a new generation of turtle themes has emerged from the New York sewers. As blue-banded Leonardo finishes his leadership training in Latin America (not kidding), the other three have started to lose their fraternal bonds, meanwhile struggling to save the world from monster or immortal-stone-statue-induced destruction.

Which would be fine were it remotely familiar. We find the Turtles are no longer fighting crime as a team because The Shredder has been defeated at some previous unaddressed instance. Donatello now works as a tech-support and Raphael is just a rogue, patrolling the NYC streets under the guise of the “Nightwatcher.” Michelangelo, though still the group’s comic relief, no longer banters with wit but relies on slapstick, one-liners and simple stupidity. Lame.

For anyone hoping to hear the classic Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle rallying fight song or even see tertiary characters like Mondo Gecko or mutated exterminator Scumbug, you will be sadly disappointed. There’s no Krang, no Bebop, no Rocksteady and no Shredder. This is utter blasphemy: The Shredder is the antithesis of everything Turtle. Without him, the Ninjas are incomplete and even pointless. It’s Superman without Lex Luthor: It’s an insurmountable void in the storyline regardless of the plot.

The number of redeeming features in “TMNT” can be counted on one Turtle hand (which, although inflamed to awkward proportions, notably has two fewer fingers than the normal human one):

1. Voice-overs by Kevin Smith (“Clerks II”), Patrick Stewart (“Star Trek”), Ziyi Zhang (“Memoirs of a Geisha”) and Laurence Fishbourne (“Bobby”);

2. Casey Jones; and

3. the animation is pretty dope.

That said, who cares if elementary school kids ogle over Splinter kicking Foot-clan ass? Any true Turtles fan will be distracted by the fact that the our Turtles eventually cooperate with the ever-nefarious Foot. The world must seriously be coming to an end.

At Quality 16 and Showcase
Warner Bros.

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

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