ChrisHicks's of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

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Well, to be honest, I don't suppose my expectations were too high going into the latest live-action movie adaptation of comic book characters, "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles." The Heroes in a Half-Shell, as they are known, have a built-in following, so movies like this are notoriously lazy. None of the budget seems to go to screenwriters with talent. It is instead spent on, er . . . creature comforts. In this case, the turtle costumes, designed by Jim Henson's Creature Shop, are quite good, and the Ninja fights seem credible - and, to be fair, there are a few clever TV-generation one-liners here and there. But they should have hired Henson to work on the script, too. This movie could have used some of the Henson wit. For the uninitiated - those who haven't been anywhere near a child in the past couple of years - the title characters are four turtles exposed to toxic waste in the sewers of New York City, along with a rat, who becomes their mentor. They all mutate into huge creatures with human characteristics, including speech. The rat is Shredder, and he has taught the four turtles - Raphael, Michaelangelo, Leonardo and Donatello - martial arts. They live in the Manhattan sewers, occasionally going above ground to rescue innocent victims of crime or to have a pizza. The plot, such as it is, has a crime wave in progress, under the leadership of a metal-masked Japanese ninja who breathes like Darth Vader. The focus is on an investigative TV news reporter (Judith Hoag) who is putting pressure on city hall. There is also a self-appointed "Death Wish" (or, in this case, "Beat-Up Wish") vigilante, who provides her love interest. But the movie is really little more than a string of ninja battles, turtle puns and general silliness. For some reason director Steve Barron, a music video director who also did "Electric Dreams," has chosen to film most of this movie in very dark settings, which is especially annoying since it's already impossible to tell the four turtles apart. And he uses none of the visual imagination that went into his "Money for Nothing" or "Billie Jean" videos. (There are also a lot of product-placement commercials built in, from Domino's Pizza to Burger King.) The soundtrack is loud, some moments rather confusing and after awhile a certain numbness is likely to set in - for those over the age of 15. But for those 15 and under . . . . Let's just say the kids in the audience at the screening I attended went nuts and would be happy to see it again. And they probably will. "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" is rated PG, but is more in PG-13 territory, with an awful lot of violence. That said, I must admit that my younger children saw it with me, and I'm not sorry. My life might have been in danger if I'd tried to keep them from it.
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Okfor ages12+