Home > Reviews > TMNT (TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES) – Klaus Badelt


Original Review by Clark Douglas

I was rather irritated when I first heard that the title of the next Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie would be “TMNT”. “Sheesh,” I thought, “haven’t we had enough of finding a shorter way to say everything in America? Why do we have to frickin’ abbreviate everything? Besides, what sounds cooler than Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? It’s just fun to say!” However, after seeing the film, it seems the movie has an appropriate title. These turtles are many things, but they most certainly aren’t teenagers. “Tired” would fit the bill a bit more accurately.

It is depressing enough to see the once incredibly-cool Ninja Turtles presented in incredibly-dull CGI, but it’s far more depressing to find them in midlife crisis mode. The reptile brothers are having a bit of a family rift, and they’re each living their own dull life. Leonardo is off in Central America, meditating and learning life lessons while helping villagers in need. Raphael is off behaving like a vigilante at night, calling himself the Nightwatcher. Michelangelo is working as a technical support guy for an electronics company. Donatello has a particularly odd job, going to children’s birthday parties dressed as one of the Ninja Turtles. The ages of these turtles aren’t ever revealed, but by their behavior, I’d guess they were 30 or so.

Of course, they eventually get back together, and after a lot of physical and verbal fighting, team up to defeat some bad guys. It’s a good move, because there are plenty of bad guys in TMNT. There’s a creepy businessman (Patrick Stewart), a horde of metallic ancient killer robot things, 13 mythological monsters (look for one in your next Happy Meal!) and a group of ninjas with a particularly solemn leader (Ziyi Zhang). The turtles will fight all of these people over the course of the movie, and it’s not until the end that we figure out which sides are good and which sides are bad. It doesn’t really matter, they all blend in after a while. The line “Did we win?” after the final battle is meant as a joke, but it’s a fair question.

The plot is a very chaotic affair, trying to squeeze about twenty plots into ninety minutes of running time. It’s like watching an entire season of an animated children’s show in fast forward. I also think they’ll have a hard time connecting with a lot of audience members… the movie is quite obviously geared towards younger boys (though human sidekick April has been turned into an action hero for the girls), but the film basically requires a reasonable amount of Ninja Turtle knowledge to understand a lot of what’s going on. Unfortunately, it’s doubtful that many kids are up on their turtle trivia.

Voice work is rather uninspired, but this may be due to the poor character design. Too many characters look too familiar… The evil businessman looks just like Mr. Incredible, Splinter the Rat looks far too much like Hammy from “Over the Hedge”, and the first monster the Turtles encounter looks precisely like a demonic version of Sully from “Monsters, Inc.” The likes of Patrick Stewart, Ziyi Zhang, Chris Evans, Sarah Michelle Gellar, and even Laurence Fishburne have trouble with some of the painfully amateurish dialogue.

Klaus Badelt provides the score for “TMNT”, and as many film score fans know, it is a replacement score. Originally, Marco Beltrami was attached to the film, and his score was supposedly thrown out for being too dark. That’s a shame, because this seems like territory Beltrami would thrive in, and a few of Badelt’s cues seem to echo Beltrami’s work on “XXX: State of the Union” (possibly used on the temp track?) Still, Badelt’s effort is not entirely without merit… there are a couple of cool action cues, particularly a statement from brass and percussion when Leonardo returns from Central America. He microwaves a few ideas from last year’s score for “The Promise”, using oriental flavor for Splinter and the (other) ninjas. For the early Central American sequences, Badelt pulls out the reliable acoustic guitar and pan pipes, which works well enough. The score isn’t particularly fresh, but it’s adequate. Not the composer’s best work, but far from his worst. Unfortunately, only two cues from the score are included on the song-dominated soundtrack album.

While I didn’t really like “TMNT” too much, it’s not as much of a bore as I may have made it out to be. There are a couple of semi-exciting action sequences, including an all-too-short comic battle between Rafael and a little red devil (no, not baby Hellboy). It provides enough technical thrills to keep the kids entertained, but I suspect most fans of the franchise will feel a little let down… if they find the movie a bit underwhelming, I suspect the none-too-subtle promise of a sequel at the film’s conclusion will only leave an even more bitter taste in the mouths of moviegoers. It’s too bad that the ultimate symbols of geek cool have finally become so lame.

Rating: ***

Track Listing:

  • Shell Shock (performed by Gym Class Heroes)
  • Rip It Up (performed by Jet)
  • There’s A Class For This (performed by Cute Is What We Aim For)
  • Awww Dip (performed by Cobra Starship)
  • Roses (performed by Meg & Dia)
  • Bring Me Along (performed by Pepper)
  • Fall Back Into My Life (performed by Amber Pacific)
  • Red Flag (performed by Billy Talent)
  • Walking On Water (performed by This Providence)
  • Youth Like Tigers (performed by Ever We Fall)
  • Lights Out (performed by P.O.D.)
  • Black Betty (performed by Big City Rock)
  • I Love Being A Turtle
  • Nightwatcher

Running Time: ## minutes ## seconds

Atlantic/WEA 101551-2 (2007)

Music composed by Klaus Badelt. Conducted by William Ross. Orchestrations by Kenneth Kyle Batter, Robert Elhai, Ian Honeyman, Kevin Kliesch, Dana Niu, John Ashton Thomas and Jeff Toyne. Recorded and mixed by Joel Iwataki. Score produced by Klaus Badelt.

  1. Reiko
    February 26, 2011 at 8:21 pm

    Um, not to sound rude or anything, but you’ve got Mikey and Don’s jobs mixed up.
    Mikey is entertaining at parties while Don (the obvious techie) is working as an IT Tech support agent.

  2. November 17, 2015 at 7:34 pm

    When a film can waste a character actor as respected as Fichtner, you know there are bigger problems beyond a slightly hackneyed script.

  3. November 17, 2015 at 7:36 pm

    Tries, and fails, to meld grit and froth. Still, at key moments it does possess a perverse sort of brio.

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