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TMNT Forever? [Movie Review: Turtles Forever]

Though I largely lost track of the TMNT animated series the last several years, I’ve tuned in here or there to see where things are. I’d thought the series was nothing but re-runs at this point, and with the sale of the TMNT to Nickelodeon, hadn’t expected anything new to be aired. Thankfully, I was wrong, as this ‘Turtles Forever’ tv movie aired this morning.

The purple dragons find themselves under attack as they seek to rip off some high-tech equipment. Splinter finds his soap opera interrupted by news of four green individuals caught on camera–apparently turtles. However, his sons are all home and haven’t been out. Cue Hun, responding to the Dragons’ having captured the Turtles. Sure enough, four Ninja Turtles have been captured…but they’re not any Hun has ever seen before. Determining they’re of no worth, he orders them killed…but that’s when the “real” (2003) turtles burst in.

After a fight, the two teams of teenage turtles size each other up. One group–pudgey and goofy, the other taller, leaner, and more serious. Before long, the time-tossed turtles from 1987 are introduced to Splinter–who, notably, looks much different. The Technodrome is brought in, as is the bumbling Shredder, Krang, and even the robotic foot soldiers. Bebop and Rocksteady make their requisite appearance.

Realizing that there are other-dimensional versions of the turtles he knows, Bumbling Shredder (1987) uses the Technodrome tech to locate this dimension’s Shredder–not in the USA, Not on Earth, but significantly further away–and beams him into the Technodrome. This dimension’s Shredder, however, is not the human Oroku Saki, but an evil Utrom Ch’rell. The Ch’rell Shredder wakes, makes short work of Bumbling Shredder, Krang, & Co., and implements a new plan–retrofitting the Technodrome with Utrom upgrades, transforming it into a far deadlier, more effective “ultimate weapon” than any previously seen.

The two groups of turtles survive an attack by a mutated Hun (remember the pink mutagen that changed someone into whatever creature they were last in contact with?), and with a dimensional-portal-stick find themselves back in the 1987 world–reversing the groups’ disorientation. The 2003 turtles meet the Hamato Yoshi Splinter, who offers a calm, serious, yet compassionate air to the time-tossed teens.

When the turtles check back in with their home (2003) dimension, they see Ch’rell’s upgraded Technodrome causing loads of destruction, withstanding the best the Military can throw at it…and they realize the box of anti-Technodrome gadgest they have isn’t gonna cut it.

Upon returning to rescue Splinter (2003), the turtles are all captured, held to particular points in a massive chamber, their essense to play a role in locating “Turtle-Prime,” the SOURCE of Ninja Turtles in the Multiverse. (And reminding me a great deal of Alexander Luthor’s tower from DC’s Infinite Crisis).

The Ch’rell Shredder shares what he’s learned, displaying images of virtually every other incarnation of the turtles out there–The 1990s movies, various incarnations from Mirage, and Archie, the newspaper strip, the 2007 movie, and so on. All are branches coming from the source being sought–destroy the source, and all the others will cease to exist. (Destroy a branch and others will continue to flourish).

Before the turtles can be completely dismantled by the device, Karai beams them away, saving their lives, as the Technodrome fades away to this Prime dimension. Another encounter with Hun as the world turns to black and white and then whites out of existence leads the turtles to modify their dimensional stick and they, too, fade out to the Prime dimension.

Arrival there introduces black and white turtles–the ORIGINAL Mirage TMNT. Accurately, the “source” of every other incarnation of the turtles.

The three groups team up to face the threat Ch’rell now poses to the multiverse.

As the story draws to a close, the other turtles return “home,” and the Prime-turtles are left to reflect on what they’ve just been a part of. Finally, they leave with Leonardo’s narration seeing them out. “We are the Teenage Mutant Ninja TUrtles. We strike hard, and fade away…into the night.”

I wasn’t sure what to expect of this when I first discovered it. A friend posted a link to the wikipedia page on my facebook, and I researched a bit from there, ultimately recording the movie and watching it this evening. A blending of the old and new/current cartoons was interesting as a concept, but I figured it would be some goofy, hokey thing that wouldn’t really be much more than “fanservice” or such.

However, goofy as it was at points, I really greatly enjoyed this. The movie REALLY accentuates the differences in the turtles’ incarnations. The “classic” 1987 turtles are goofy, hokey, and not very serious on the whole. The 2003 turtles are far more serious (though Mikey remains a bit of a goofball–but not nearly on the level of all the ’87 turtles). And of course, both incarnations are significantly “lighter” than the original 1984 Mirage turtles.

As far as I could tell, the voices of the 2003 turtles are the same as the long-running series. None of the voices for the classic turtles seemed at all familiar–which was disappointing, though I’d’ve been shocked if they could reassemble those regulars 20ish years later. Still, the attitudes of the characters showed through.

I did feel that the Splinters, as well as April and Casey (2003) got shortchanged…though I could’ve done with a little less than the brief bit we got with the 1987 April. I must admit it was sorta cool seeing Bebop and Rocksteady again, though they, too, were really shown to be the goofy caricatures they were.

Though brief overall, the Prime-turtles were rather cool to see–and it may just be my own prior comparisons of the incarnations that made it stand out for me–but they seemed all the more dangerous and deadly appearing alongside the colorized counterparts.

The movie ending with these turtles first striking the pose on a building that should be familiar to anyone who’s seen the covers to the original TMNT #1, TMNT #50, and so on. Then the thing closed out with Leo’s narration from the ending of that original TMNT #1…

Which truly brought things full-circle. Even though mere glimpses were provided of the numerous versions of the turtles through the years, that technically means they were included here. And so this capped off–“series finale”-style–the animated series that’s been running since 2003, as well as referencing/capping off the 1980s-1990s series, and everything that’s come before in the extended multiverse of TMNT.

I loved the references to past elements of the series. The classic lines were all there. Familiar nuances to voices were present despite different voiceactors–from Bumbling Shredder’s frustration to Krang’s gurgling/burping. The visual styles were consistent at least with what I remember of both series. The Prime turtles seemed a bit off, but the visual cues were absolutely unmistakeable.

This whole thing reminded me a bit of that Batman: The Animated Series episode with the kids relaying their different versions of the Batman, that included the various visual styles of the silver-age Batman, Miller’s Dark Knight, and so on.

All in all, it’s hard to capture every last detail or every last thought and such from the movie. Suffice to say that there are a number of other specific touches that pushed all the right geek-buttons for me.

I sincerely hope this gets released on DVD, whoever puts it out (provided it’s not vastly over-priced for being only about 75 minutes of content).

One of the commercials indicates it’ll be airing again over the next 3 weeks, so if you have not had a chance to see it, and you’re a fan of (particularly) either of the animated series, this is incredibly worthwhile.

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