"TMNT" Preview: A Look at the Turtles in CGI, Plus No More Foot Clan??

by | January 29, 2007 | Comments

After 13 years, The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are returning to the big screen. Unlike their previous three films, this time the turtles will be brought to life through computer animation. Rotten Tomatoes was invited to have a look at the new film, and talk with two of the principal creators; producer Tom Gray and writer/director Kevin Munroe of Imagi.

Author: Travis Fickett

The turtles have already seen a successful revival in the form of an animated series that began in 2003. This convinced Tom Gray, one of the producers of the original "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" movie, that it was time to bring the heroes back to the big screen. But this time, he knew things would have to be done a bit differently than the Turtles’ heyday in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

"To do the turtles in live action it would cost over a hundred million dollars," Gray said. "Doing it in CG is not only more economical, but we can do a lot in CG that we couldn’t do in live action."

The Turtles circa 1990, 1991, 1993

The footage shown in the preview reel was a testament to this fact. The movie looks big and the camera zips through tunnels and flies over a very nice looking digitally reproduced New York City. The look of the film, while computer generated animation, manages to maintain the feel of a moving comic book. There is a gritty texture to the art, but it never tries to go for the photo-realism of something like Final Fantasy. The stylized feel is partly due to the involvement of Art Director Simon Murton, better known for his work on live action films such as "The Crow."

While not a direct sequel of the previous three films, "TMNT" is also not a complete re-imagining. This is not an origin story, instead picking up with the turtles after they’ve had some experience and adventures. The story, conceived by Munroe and Turtles’ creator Peter Laird, begins with the Turtles in disarray. Splinter has sent Leonardo on a quest to South America, and when he returns he finds the Turtles broken apart and a new vigilante named "The Night Watcher" is patrolling the streets. Munroe and Laird felt that it was time to move on from Shredder and his Foot Clan, so a new villain will be making a debut in this film.

Along with the Turtles and Splinter, reporter April O’Neil and vigilante Casey Jones will also appear in the film. This time around, April is voiced by Sarah Michelle Gellar while Casey will be voiced by Chris Evans, best known as the Human Torch in the "Fantastic Four" films.

"We fought for the turtles to be played by people who were not known actors," says Gray, talking about the casting process. However, for April and Casey it turned out that Evans and Gellar were both fans of the turtles and wanted to be involved. Patrick Stewart also voices a character and Laurence Fishburne is providing some narration. "We didn’t want to do the Dreamworks thing where everyone is a famous player," Gray added.

One unfortunate turn of events for "TMNT" was the death of legendary Japanese actor Mako, who lends his voice to Splinter. While Mako did record all of his dialogue for the film, he died one day after his involvement with the film was announced.

"His character stayed intact and it’s a really good performance," said Munroe. He’s a dad. There’s such a warmth to his character and a seasoned quality to his voice."

Because the turtles were at the height of their popularity in the late ’80s and early nineties, many of the original fans are now adults. However, with the new cartoon and toy line, there are many new fans in a much younger demographic. Gray and Munroe were asked how they were going to address this disparity.

"We wanted to take care of our fan base, first of all. Those are what we call "the alums" who were there with us in the ’90s. We wanted to make a movie that would be satisfying to them, push it a little bit without actually going into the PG-13. We don’t want to dumb it down with too much ‘cowabunga.’"

The fight choreography developed through working with the Hong Kong animation facility, where Chinese animators took the designs and direction from Los Angeles and turned them into full blown animated sequences. "We originally were going to bring in a fight coordinator," said Gray. "But at the end of the day we didn’t need it. The people in Hong Kong having grown up with Jackie Chan and John Woo movies, it’s in their DNA. They knew how to do choreographed fights! I was astonished."

According to director Kevin Munroe, "TMNT" is "The quintessential turtles movie; big and fun." He didn’t feel it was necessary to make one film for a younger audience and then use lots of inside jokes and innuendo for adults. Instead, the action and the relationships between the turtles will have a shared appeal for a broad demographic.

The question remains if audiences will eagerly embrace a new Turtles movie, but "TMNT" does seem to have a lot going for it. From the design of the characters, the gritty look of the animation to the frenetic and inventive action sequences, the movie seems poised to recapture the elements that made the turtles such a unique phenomenon the first time around.

"TMNT" hits theaters March 23, 2007. Watch the trailer here!

Tag Cloud

Martial Arts stand-up comedy free movies stoner TV Land black versus jurassic park BAFTA Tubi Syfy Pop TV Disney streaming service theme song Pop SXSW Country Sundance Now Peacock Superheroes women natural history cops Emmys TIFF IFC french Bravo aliens emmy awards Women's History Month Amazon Prime Video boxing hidden camera PBS USA FX NBC Comic Book Character Guide Stephen King Disney Channel Britbox DirecTV MSNBC OneApp crossover remakes Netflix ViacomCBS Lifetime Christmas movies true crime Hallmark DC Universe Winter TV elevated horror king kong nfl Starz book Super Bowl 24 frames casting Holidays spinoff Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt USA Network doctor who Classic Film movies IFC Films slashers Discovery Channel cars FXX comics latino hist disaster thriller historical drama video on demand Nat Geo Polls and Games TBS zombie talk show anime Extras Amazon Studios screenings Amazon Christmas PaleyFest Legendary cults 99% toronto asian-american supernatural dceu indiana jones dc Trophy Talk unscripted 2017 deadpool GIFs Spring TV Creative Arts Emmys book adaptation Black Mirror Star Trek Fox Searchlight independent TLC documentary video parents Music cinemax vampires Food Network criterion green book critics The Witch Endgame Interview Musical Western MCU Best and Worst Horror mutant italian Musicals police drama X-Men romance Holiday cancelled Pride Month transformers TV One CNN Disney+ Disney Plus Logo Sci-Fi trailers The Walking Dead 2016 Fantasy Tarantino FX on Hulu comic books Broadway boxoffice New York Comic Con Sundance TV Tumblr Podcast TV renewals travel Red Carpet Walt Disney Pictures harry potter Shudder golden globe awards obituary revenge pirates of the caribbean sitcom docuseries History Watching Series Song of Ice and Fire biography MTV renewed TV shows SundanceTV Thanksgiving Quiz game of thrones hispanic laika directors strong female leads discovery monster movies Arrowverse Year in Review Mindy Kaling festival Binge Guide chucky Lionsgate fresh 20th Century Fox Certified Fresh romantic comedy Marathons Black History Month period drama composers Reality Toys saw crime ID reboot news facebook war spanish language spanish quibi movie Mary Tyler Moore ABC cartoon high school DGA spy thriller franchise CMT Animation See It Skip It Mary poppins E! YA TNT crime thriller Pirates The Purge mockumentary Paramount Marvel Television prank Vudu Oscars Comedy Central Film Festival Sundance australia Turner Classic Movies Paramount Plus Universal CW Seed 2015 Nominations 2019 Cannes 2021 canceled TV shows archives docudrama Acorn TV Shondaland sequel christmas movies Mystery Dark Horse Comics Disney Apple TV+ Warner Bros. robots diversity reviews Pet Sematary sag awards San Diego Comic-Con binge Drama ITV OWN jamie lee curtis finale National Geographic YouTube Writers Guild of America kong blaxploitation politics Fall TV joker Marvel telelvision Chernobyl japanese FOX satire concert Brie Larson hollywood The Walt Disney Company Television Critics Association sequels LGBTQ Chilling Adventures of Sabrina mission: impossible Turner Ellie Kemper ESPN worst movies breaking bad American Society of Cinematographers best Kids & Family Nickelodeon razzies space TCA 2017 child's play 72 Emmy Awards streaming CBS Emmy Nominations ABC Signature Columbia Pictures Esquire 4/20 comiccon BBC dark RT21 zero dark thirty documentaries blockbuster rt archives Captain marvel Pixar nature Funimation Exclusive Video a nightmare on elm street WGN Film The CW Cartoon Network kids Election stop motion 45 TCA Winter 2020 Grammys name the review Television Academy Set visit Disney Plus 2020 Hulu Cosplay south america Star Wars The Academy based on movie worst GLAAD Reality Competition cooking adventure HBO Max Spectrum Originals HBO Go Showtime Rocky HBO DC streaming service blockbusters foreign TruTV medical drama twilight fast and furious First Reviews SDCC teaser Elton John Academy Awards Teen Avengers Tomatazos Heroines cats GoT A&E science fiction universal monsters dogs Schedule television Rock Comedy technology BET singing competition tv talk LGBT Travel Channel APB President 21st Century Fox superman halloween Amazon Prime Valentine's Day VH1 Paramount Network BET Awards Mudbound Calendar Ghostbusters 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards Apple 71st Emmy Awards classics Lifetime BBC One Trivia what to watch animated Hear Us Out Freeform award winner ghosts PlayStation football comic screen actors guild Apple TV Plus rom-coms Countdown YouTube Red Photos Superheroe Hallmark Christmas movies serial killer Winners VICE Ovation die hard Sneak Peek Summer ratings Opinion cancelled TV series canceled cancelled television Lucasfilm Crunchyroll zombies Alien sports AMC halloween tv Fox News Rom-Com social media festivals Biopics psychological thriller all-time Crackle Mary Poppins Returns crime drama children's TV dramedy TV popular BBC America godzilla political drama indie First Look Adult Swim Rocketman Video Games CBS All Access ABC Family Anna Paquin series golden globes TCA Awards nbcuniversal cancelled TV shows RT History Baby Yoda new star wars movies WarnerMedia YouTube Premium superhero game show venice Premiere Dates Awards Tour Epix NYCC werewolf Netflix Christmas movies anthology scorecard DC Comics scary movies Infographic Family Action Comics on TV batman E3 spider-man Trailer rotten movies we love A24 films El Rey spain dragons Box Office Sony Pictures VOD TCM kaiju justice league Spike The Arrangement miniseries rotten richard e. Grant toy story adaptation TCA 007 93rd Oscars comedies 2018 psycho Masterpiece heist movie Marvel Studios Awards witnail james bond