Doom and Doomer: TMNT

Greetings, Legion of Dudes, and welcome to another installment of DOOM AND DOOMER. This time, Fin Fang Doom and I take on TMNT – the new computer-animated Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie.

JIM DOOM: I came into TMNT with the background of being someone who never read the comics, loved the cartoons, and thought the live action movies were pretty awful. And while there were things about TMNT that I didn’t like or wish would have been done differently, I thought it was trying to be a fun kids’ action movie and did a great job of it.

When you’re looking at franchise adaptations, one of the big things is “Did it kill the characters?” The live action movies did for me. This definitely didn’t.

FIN FANG DOOM: I think the main reason i TMNT succeeded is what you just pointed out: the creators of the movie knew what kind of a movie they were making and played that up. TMNT was a kids movie, and instead of trying to bog it down with an overly-complicated plot or unneccesary character development, they just leapt right into a fun action adventure.

JD: And I liked that it was also able to be a kids movie without having to throw in tons of subtle dirty jokes for the adults to laugh at. April and Casey lived together without being married, yet they were able to not make jokes about two non-married adults shacking up that kids wouldn’t get (see: Cars).

FFD: No, I will not see Cars.

JD: It was actually really good, but it just bugs me when kids’ filmmakers seem almost embarrassed of just making a good kids movie so they have to throw in tons of double entendres.

FFD: I think another positive for TMNT, kind of the opposite number of the point you just made, is that for the most part, there wasn’t any juvenile humor included that only kids would enjoy.

JD: so if we both liked it, want to talk about things we didn’t like?

FFD: otherwise this’ll probably end up being a pretty bad read. I didn’t like Sarah Michelle Gellar as April, for one.

JD: Does it distract you to hear Buffy’s voice coming out of someone else’s body?

FFD: no, it just seemed like uneccesary stunt casting. SMG is not a very good actress. Aside from Buffy, I don;t think I’ve liked anything she’s been in. They should have just hired a good voice-over actress to do the part since they didn’t use SMG’s star power to promote the movie.

JD: I didn’t like how the monsters had supposedly been around for 3000 years but only became a problem in that week. You would think 13 horrible monsters who destroy everything in their paths would have brought some attention to themselves over three millenia.

But I just figured, hey, it’s a kids movie. If that kind of thing was in a movie that you were supposed to take at all seriously, it would have really bugged me.

FFD: it did kind of bug me that they all just happened to be in New York. what reason did they have to congregate there?

JD: Well and maybe they were all summoned by the vortex or whatever, so they could have been hanging out in jungles or something. Because Winters did say “I’ll have some friends coming into town, please welcome them” or whatever when he was talking to the Foot clan.

FFD: I guess I figured his was referring to his statues

JD: no, because the Foot weren’t involved with them. he sent the foot out to “greet” the 13 monsters.

FFD: I’m sure you’re right, but I didn’t notuice it at the time.

On the subject of the 3000-year timeframe: Winters was apparently a lot of famous people throughout history, judging from his collection of historic artifacts. But if he’s only been immortal for 3000 years, how could he have been a pharoah?

JD: good point. I also didn’t really understand how having his generals turned to stone would make him want to completely change his ways due to his overwhelming guilt. Surely a conquering warrior would understand that sometimes you lose generals. I mean, he went to huge lengths to gain immortality – losing 4 generals is going to make him regret that and become a moping emo-warrior?

I think at this point, though, I might be over-thinking the material. But there’s nothing inherent about kids’ movies that requires there be pretty big holes in the story.

FFD: I think his regret stemmed from unleashing the 13 monsters on the world, but as you pointed out earlier, they must not have been a huge problem if no one had tried to do anything about them until now. Besides, you can’t have 5 main bad guys and 4 main good guys

JD: Well and it’s not like he wasn’t a monster. He was laying waste to everything in his path. He only feels bad when other people do it?

This isn’t so much a criticism as a way that I wish it would have been different, but I wish it was just a relaunch of the franchise rather than attempting to pick up where other movies left off (I assume that’s what they were doing by saying Shredder had been defeated).

I wanted to see Shredder. But I guess at least this way we didn’t have to waste a lot of time on an origin.

FFD: I want to see Shredder too

JD: at least they teased that he’ll be in the sequel.

FFD: and judging by the box office, there will defnitely be a sequel.

Do you find it at all interesting that the first movie to knock 300 out of the #1 spot was yet another comic book movie?

JD: when’s the next comic book movie? Is it Spider-Man 3 in May?

FFD: probably. Ghost Rider was #1 also, correct?

JD: I think so.

FFD: does the Legion of Doom have more influence over the movie business than I was aware of?

JD: If our movie reviews came out closer to the time the movies themselves did, I’d say you might have a point.

Well, are we already to closing statement time?

FFD: seems like it, doesn’t it? Too bad this movie was good, or else we’d have more to talk about

JD: Well, and there’s not a lot to say about the movie I guess. I went into it after reading some really bad reviews, but I figured “Well, I should go see it anyway.” and then I turned out to be pleased with it. Some of the characterization was kind of heavy-handed, but it’s for kids. The animation is cool, the New York City landscape is fantastically rendered in a dark, gritty way, and there are a few laughs to go with the drama. I think maybe most of all I was just pleased that it wasn’t awful, and I’m definitely going to see TMNT2. I just wish “T-M-N-T” was easier to say.

FFD: The CGI was just amazing…some of the best I’ve ever seen quite frankly. Ligthing everything a lot darker made TMNT stand out amongst the endless supply of bright and bubbly CGI movies coming out these days. For the first time in their cinematic history, each of the four turtles even had distinct personalities and expressions. And I’m really glad that the movie was promoted based on it’s plot instead of what big names were providing voices.

I really, really loved TMNT. It may just be because it was a great nostalgia trip for me. TMNT was to my childhood what Buffy was to my adolescence. But I think it turned out to be a good movie mainly because like any successful genre movie (horror, action, kid’s, etc), the creators knew the audience they were playing for and didn’t try to dumb it down and make it appealing to every demographic. They stuck to what makes the characters and the story work…nothing seemed forced or out of place. There’s really not a better recipe for making a good movie than that.