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TMNT (also known as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 4) is a 2007 film based on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise. The film sees the Turtles grow apart after their defeat of The Shredder. Meanwhile, strange things are happening in New York Citymarker. An army of ancient creatures threatens to take over the world and the Turtles must unite again to save it.

It is the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film made with Computer-Generated Imagery by Imagi Animation Studios. The previous films in the series were all live-action. It is the first film in the franchise in 14 years. Chronologically, the film takes place after the original films. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was released on March 23, 2007 in a number of Eastern European and Asian countries, on March 23, 2007, in the United Kingdommarker, Canadamarker, and the United Statesmarker, and April 5, 2007 in Australia as well as subsequently in numerous other countries. It was the #1 film in the U.S. on its opening weekend, bringing in $25.45 million. It made its television debut on Cartoon Network on November 1, 2009.

The film features the four Turtles (Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael, and Michelangelo) as well as Casey Jones and April O'Neil. The main villains are Max Winters, the Stone Generals, Karai, and the Foot Clan. Voices are provided by Chris Evans, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Patrick Stewart, and Zhang Ziyi. It is also the last film starring Mako.

Plot

The film opens 3,000 years before the early twenty-first century, during which time a powerful warlord named Yaotl and his four generals discover a portal opening onto a parallel universe wherein is said to be a great power. Upon opening the portal, the warlord is exposed to this power and made immortal by the contact, but his four generals are turned to stone and his army obliterated. The portal additionally releases 13 immortal monsters that wreak havoc upon the world.

In the twenty-first century, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have grown apart. After their defeat of the Shredder, Master Splinter has sent Leonardo away to Central America for training. The rest of the Turtles have settled into lives in New Yorkmarker:

  • Donatello works as an IT specialist and has become the de facto leader
  • Michelangelo works as a clown called "Cowabunga Carl" for birthday parties, and
  • Raphael continues fighting crime at night while disguised as the vigilante "Nightwatcher".


April O'Neil, seemingly expanded from her antique store "2nd Time Around", now operates a company that locates rare relics and acquires them for collectors with the help of her roommate and boyfriend Casey Jones.

While on a business trip in Central America, April meets Leonardo, whom she advises to return to New York, but he is hesitant to do so out of fear that he has not completed his training. April then tells him how the other Turtles have drifted apart and leaves Leo to ponder his next move. April returns to New York with a stone statue for her client Max Winters, the wealthy CEO of a financial empire. Leo stows away on board a plane and returns shortly afterwards. April and Casey deliver the statue to Winters at his corporate office, after they leave he brings all four statues out and reanimates them, revealing that the statues are the four Generals of the myth, and Winters the warlord made immortal. Winters is then visited by Karai and the Foot Clan, whom he hires to scour the city searching for the 13 beasts, who will be drawn to New York by the reopening of the portal, scheduled to happen in days.

Leo returns to the sewer home of the Turtles, where he faces Splinter. Splinter, desiring him to reunite his brothers as a family, forbids the Turtles from fighting until they are cohesive team again. While training, the Turtles encounter one of the thirteen beasts battling with the Foot Clan. Seeing the Foot losing the battle, the Turtles defy Leo and Splinter's orders and engage the beast as well. The beast easily defeats the Turtles; but before it can kill them the four Stone Generals arrive and capture the beast, spiriting it away in a disguised garbage truck. Leo and Raph quarrel, whereinafter Raph leaves to go hunting alone. Later, as Nightwatcher, Raph encounters Casey, who reveals his knowledge of Raph's double identity and joins him in hunting criminals. Together they encounter the Stone Generals again, and are pursued by one until the police interrupt the fight. Raph is knocked unconscious by a dart fired by the Generals, whereupon Casey takes him to his apartment and calls the other Turtles to come and help. While examining Raph, they learn the identities of Winters and his Generals from April. After being revived, Raph leaves them, wishing to fight alone.

Leo, Donny, and Mikey return to their sewer home to plan their next move, where Donny discovers the reopening of the portal will be directly over Winters' Tower. Splinter calls Leo aside and tells him that his team is not complete, and that he knows what he must do. Wishing to preserve their own immortality, which lasts as long as they are made of stone, the Generals plot to betray Winters so as to prevent him restoring their humanity. While looking for Raph, Leo encounters Nightwatcher, whom he challenges. Leo initially gets the upper hand, knocking Nightwatcher's helmet off and revealing Raph, who, being resentful of Leo's self-righteous authority and feeling like his brother abandoned him when he left, duels with him. Raph ultimately wins when Leo's swords are broken by Raph. Raph, horrified by his own rage towards his brother, flees the scene. The Stone Generals then seize Leo, intending to substitute him for the thirteenth missing beast.

Raph returns to Master Splinter and reveals the fight, deciding to make amends by recapturing Leo. Thereafter Splinter and the Turtles, accompanied by Casey and April, travel to Winters' Tower and confront him. Here, the Generals' desire to remain immortal and Winters' desire to send the beasts to their native world are both revealed. Having refused to betray Winters in exchange for immortality, April, Casey, and the Foot Clan search for the thirteenth beast while the Turtles and Splinter fight off the Generals and numerous other monsters emerging from the now open portal. After a long battle and a death-defying search, the Generals are destroyed and the beasts returned to their native world. Winters, now mortal, honors the Turtles and Splinter, thanks them for the fulfillment of his wish, and disintegrates before their eyes.

As the Turtles regroup, Karai warns them to enjoy their victory while it lasts, on grounds that they will soon contend with a familiar foe (implying the Shredder's return and a future sequel). She and her followers then depart. In the later evening, Winters' helmet, Raphael's "Nightwatcher" helmet, and Michelangelo's clown costume are added to a collection of trophies kept by Splinter which includes Shredder's helmet, the broken canister formerly containing the mutagenic "ooze" which gave the Turtles and Splinter their present forms, and the Golden Time Scepter of the previous films. An epilogue narrated by Raph's voice then shows the Turtles unitedly patrolling New York City, and concludes the film with the much-repeated catchphrase "Man, I love being a turtle!".

Cast



Various characters done by Dee Bradley Baker, Greg Baldwin, Jeff Bennett, Jim Cummings, Grey DeLisle, Chris Edgerly, Kim Mai Guest, Jennifer Hale, Jess Harnell, Phil LaMarr, Paul Michael Robinson, Tara Strong, and Billy West

Production

The first of three films released in the TMNT franchise by New Line Cinema in the early 1990s was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Subsequently, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze was released in 1991, and finally Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III in 1993. A CGI TMNT movie was first announced in 2000, with John Woo supposedly at the helm. That movie languished in development hell, however, and Woo ultimately moved on to other projects. TMNT, executive produced by Peter Laird, Gary Richardson, and Frederick U. Fierst, departs from the previous films' live action style, and is the first TMNT film to be CGI. Writer/Director Kevin Munroe, who had previously worked with video games, comics, and television animation said that he wanted to do total CGI instead of live action and CGI turtles because it would be easier for the audience to "suspend disbelief for such an offbeat story" as there would be no break in the reality between CGI and live action. Producer Tom Gray explained that the decision to depart from the live action franchise was due to escalating budgets for the three films, and with each film making less than its predecessor, a CGI film became a reality. For example the first film made $135.2 million on a budget of $13.5 million, and the third made $44 million on a budget of $21 million. Golden Harvest's rights expired, and Gray, at an animation company, said the question arose there over a CGI TMNT film in 2004.

Munroe stated in terms of the story line that ideas were floated as extreme as the Turtles being in space, but eventually it just came back to New York Citymarker, and the theme of the family that had fallen apart. When developing the screenplay, Munroe wanted to take on a less lighthearted tone or "less Cowabunga" and place an emphasis on dark elements as shown in the original comics to appeal to the mature audience. "I had a very specific tone because mixing that sort of action and comedy is a very specific thing. Most people were just coming and wanting to make it too funny. I think that version of the movie could do really well, but we wanted to do something where it sort of pushes the envelope a little bit more and says that animation is more than just comedic animals bumping into each other and farting!" Munroe said that in design and in the rendering of the animation, he was after the feel of a comic book.

Development and pre-production for TMNT began in June 2005
at Imagi's Los Angeles facility and then the state-of-the-art CG animation were produced in Hong Kongmarker, followed by post-production in Hollywood. In designing the New York backdrop, art director/concept artist Simon Murton stylized the familiar Manhattan skyline and urban landscapes to make them appear uniquely "TMNT". "We began with cinematic cues from certain black-and-white films from the 1940s and '50s," notes Murton. "I really wanted to push the lighting and the environments to create the look and feel of an alternate reality." The animators that worked on the fight sequences were inspired by Hong Kong action films. Animation director Kim Ooi explains since it was in CG, they were able to "push and stylize beyond the limits of live action". Imagi used Maya with Pixar’s RenderMan for the production pipeline’s back-end.


The cast is new compared to the older films. Jim Cummings and Frank Welker (who voiced Tokka and Rahzar in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze) are the only past TMNT actors to appear in this film. Cummings has previously contributed voice-work in the 1987 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series. TMNT was Mako Iwamatsu's last film prior to his death. Mako was announced as the voice of Splinter at the San Diego Comic-Con on July 20, 2006. He then passed away the next day. A dedication to Mako appears at the end of the film's credits. This is the second TMNT film to include a dedication, the other being Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze, which was dedicated to Jim Henson.

Promotion

The first teaser-poster featured the logo of the 2003 TV series, which was eventually abandoned and then recovered in 2004. In addition to the main poster, there were several others including individual ones for each turtle.

At the 2006 Comic-Con, the TMNT panel screened an exclusive preview that contained a Splinter voice-over with shots of monsters, jungles, foot ninjas, facial tests, concept designs, muscle tests, dynamic fight tests, and some comedic scenes. Also, a sneak peek booklet containing storyboards, environment designs, and character designs by comic artist Jeff Matsuda was distributed.

The teaser-trailer was released in July 2006. It starts out with the camera moving above the buildings on a dark night. When it finally stops moving, the turtles open their eyes and all that can be seen is the whites of their eyes against the dark background. Then, the turtles start maneuvering across the tops of the buildings, finally jumping down and landing in a dark alleyway. As each one lands, they perform kata with their respective weapon. After Leonardo finishes with his kata, Michelangelo can be seen falling into a dumpster. As Donatello opens the dumpster, Michelangelo says "I'm okay." A police siren is heard and then the car pulls up. The officer shines his light down the alley, but the turtles have already disappeared. The camera pans down the alley to show a manhole cover being slid back into place, with the name "TMNT" on it. The movie's full trailer was attached on December 15 to the films Eragon and Unaccompanied Minors. It is currently available on Apple Trailers, MTV.com, and Yahoo! Movies. It also debuted on the G4 show Attack of the Show!.

On February 26, two television spots debuted and began airing. Later, two more TV spots, geared specifically toward the young children demographic aired on 4Kids TV, the channel that broadcast the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles .

In February 2007, Warner Bros. began an online campaign by creating a MySpace page for each of the turtles . Within a week before the release date, several clips were unveiled through various websites.

The McDonald's fast-food chain promoted TMNT, having eight toys to collect with the purchase of a Happy Meal. There is a novelization based on the film.

The film was originally set for release domestically (USA and Canada) on March 30, 2007, which would have been the seventeenth anniversary of the release of the first film. The March 30 date was advertised in the teaser trailer and early posters, but the release was moved up to March 23, 2007.

Video game

  • TMNT is the video game version of the 2007 CGI movie. It was released three days before the actual movie's release. Ubisoft secured the rights and released the games on March 20. Ubisoft won the rights from Konami, who had produced all the previous games. The game is available for PlayStation 2, PSP, PC, Game Boy Advance, Nintendo DS, GameCube, Wii, and Xbox 360 game systems. Reviews for the games ranged from horrible to mediocre to exemplary, due to the vastly different games produced. The home console games were identical, and given bad to mediocre ratings; the PSP and Nintendo DS games were identical to each other but not the home console versions, and were given abysmal ratings; and the Game Boy Advance version was entirely separate, but received good ratings in contrast to the other versions. It was lauded for its excellent use of the side-scrolling beat-'em-up style, which evoked nostalgia for older games in the series such as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time. However, there is no multi-player mode in the GBA version."The TMNT movie is all about the emotions associated with family and teenage angst," said Nick Harper, the game's creative director. "We've taken that philosophy and turned it into gameplay mechanics that will be fun and challenging. The game features collaborative team-ups between the turtles. However, the game also features single-player campaigns for the brothers.
  • TMNT: Power Of Four is the mobile game version of the 2007 CGI movie. It is produced by uclick and developed by Overloaded.


Soundtrack

Reception

SuperHeroHype.com posted a review for TMNT with an overall score of 7/10, stating the film had a good balance of dark aspects and kid-friendliness. IGN.com also gave it 7/10, calling it "by far, the best Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie yet." The film received an 8/10 from reviewers on JoBlo.com, CHUD, and Moviesonline. Despite minor problems with the overall design of the human characters, they praise the film for its unique animation style and top notch voice acting. Comic and animation related websites like Newsarama, Comic Book Resources, and Toon Zone were also favorable in their reviews.

Mainstream critics were, however, less impressed with the film, resulting in a 33% aggregate rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Critics generally pointed to lack of originality as the film's main flaw. Richard Roeper expressed this in his review, saying, "I guess if you read the comic strip and you played the video games and you watched the TV show and dug the earlier movies, you’ll dig this new version. For me, I didn’t do any of that stuff." In contrast, users of RottenTomatoes.com rated the movie with a freshness of 69% as of August 29, 2007.

TMNT ranked number one at the box office on its opening weekend, beating out 300 (the top film of the previous two weeks), The Last Mimzy, Shooter, Pride, The Hills Have Eyes 2, and Reign Over Me. Weekend estimates showed that the film made $25.45 million over the weekend of March 23-25, 2007. The film grossed over $95 million worldwide during its 91 day run in theaters.

DVD release

TMNT was released on August 7, 2007 for DVD, HD DVD, and Blu-ray Disc.

The DVD contains the following bonus features:
  • Commentary by Writer/Director Kevin Munroe
  • Alternate Opening and Alternate Ending
  • Deleted Scene
  • Side-by-Side Comparison of Storyboard and CG
  • Interviews with Voice Talent


In 2009, a tetralogy with all four TMNT films was released to celebrate the 25th anniversary. It is also available on Blu-Ray.

References

  1. Film review: TMNT - Review - Culture Shock - www.atomicmpc.com.au
  2. TMNT (2007) : HollywoodJesus.com : Movie Reviews, Trailers and Spiritual Commentary
  3. TMNT (2007) - International Box Office Results
  4. TMNT - Movie Reviews, Trailers, Pictures - Rotten Tomatoes
  5. TMNT - Movie Reviews, Trailers, Pictures - Rotten Tomatoes
  6. TMNT (2007)
  7. http://www.thedigitalbits.com/#mytwocents
  8. DVD Empire - Item - TMNT / DVD-Video


See also



External links




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