tek's rating:

Imagi Studios; IMDb; Rotten Tomatoes; TurtlePedia; TV Tropes; Warner Bros.; Wikipedia
streaming sites: Amazon; Google Play; iTunes; Movies Anywhere; Vudu; YouTube

Caution: potential spoilers.

This came out in 2007, but I didn't see it until 2014. I guess it's technically supposed to be the fourth movie in the "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" film series, I mean part of the same continuity, but I see no particular reason to think of it that way. On top of the fact that it's animated instead of live-action, and came out 14 years after the previous film, I just don't see anything in this film that is clearly a continuation of the previous storyline (though it's possible I simply missed something). It seems to me more like a reboot or a standalone, but whatever. I also see nothing that contradicts the previous movies, so look at it however you want. Anyway, the animation isn't quite as good as something from a studio like Pixar or DreamWorks, but it's not bad. (And certainly the fact that it was animated made it possible for the fights to look much cooler than in the live-action films.) And it has a good voice cast. And there's some good music in it. It took me awhile to get into the story... for a little while I thought it might turn out to be kind of meh, but it definitely improved. Oh, and the humor was definitely similar to that of the other movies, but I think it was somewhat less cringe-worthy, and sometimes genuinely funny.

It begins with a legend from 3000 years ago, of an army led by a warlord named Yaotl, who had four generals (apparently his three brothers and a sister, though I'm not sure if they were actually related or if that was just figurative). They were trying to take over the world, and then they discovered a portal that opened onto another planet (or another dimension) every 3000 years. It seemed to me like their army was great enough that they really didn't need the portal, but whatever. Um... the portal opens, and it makes Yaotl immortal. However, it turned his four generals into statues, and thirteen monsters came through the portal, before it closed. And I guess the army was wiped out.

The story then flashes forward to the present, somewhere in Central America. Some thugs are running a protection racket in a local village, but they're defeated by the ghost of the jungle, or whatever. Some local myth, which is obviously being embodied by a ninja turtle. April O'Neil (Sarah Michelle Gellar) shows up and talks to the turtle. It's Leonardo, who had been sent here by Splinter (Mako Iwamatsu) a year ago to train, so he could become a more effective leader of the team. April tries to convince him to go back to New York City, but he seems reluctant. Meanwhile, April is actually in the area on business. For some reason, she's no longer a reporter, but rather it seems she's in the business of locating and transporting ancient artifacts, for private collectors. And it's here that she's found the last of four statues that she'd been hired to find, by a man named Mr. Winters (Patrick Stewart). Casey Jones (Chris Evans)- whom April is dating- also works with her, though he's still in New York.

And in New York, Winters has hired the Foot clan to look for the thirteen monsters. Since Shredder had previously been defeated by the turtles, the Foot are now being led by a woman named Karai (Zhang Ziyi). I gotta say, it's kind of weird that the monsters have supposedly been terrorizing the world for 3000 years, and yet none of them look familiar to me, and most people seem unaware of their existence, so I don't think they could be that big of a problem, but whatever. Um, and now they're all coming to New York. It's not made clear why they're coming, but I would guess it's because Winters (who is, of course, Yaotl) has the portal in his fortress-like home. He doesn't want the Foot to engage the monsters, just look for them. And he's found a way to bring his generals- the statues April had delivered to him- back to life, though they're still made of stone. The generals will then go out and collect the monsters and bring them back to Winters's place. He's decided that immortality is a curse, and he needs to have all thirteen monsters present to return through the portal, which is soon going to open again, in order to become mortal again.

Meanwhile, Donatello and Michaelangelo both have jobs, though not ones that require them to reveal their true identities, because the turtles are still in hiding. Raphael just sleeps all day, but goes out at night to fight crime as a vigilante called the Nightwatcher. Casey also does his vigilante thing, and figures out that Raph is the Nightwatcher, though no one else seems able to see through Raph's disguise. Anyway, Leo finally returns home, but Raph refuses to take orders from him, resenting the fact that he'd been gone for a year (in spite of the fact that it was on Splinter's orders). So Leo and Raph eventually get into a fight. But then the generals capture Leo, and take him to Winters, claiming he's the final monster they were seeking. So the other three turtles, along with Splinter, Casey, and April (who is now a badass, herself) have to go rescue Leo. And eventually, they have to find the real final monster. Which kind of surprised me, because... earlier, the Nightwatcher had fought a small monster, which I had assumed was the thirteenth, but when they find the thirteenth, it's much bigger than the one the Nightwatcher had fought. So I'm assuming the monster he'd fought wasn't one of the thirteen at all, but just some totally random monster.

Anyway... I've left out various scenes and plot twists. But I will say that, while the movie didn't always make perfect sense, I definitely thought it made more sense than any of the previous films. And it turned out to be reasonably fun, and cooler than I expected it to be. Not, like, wicked cool, but kinda cool, anyway.

CGI index
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles * Secret of the Ooze * Turtles in Time * TMNT