In the midst of a fagin-style crimespree the Heros In Halfshells' leader is kidnapped and they make it their ninja-mission to rescue him.
After so much headline coverage, can this turtle extravaganza possible live up to such eager expectation? Happily, and a little surprisingly, the movie Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles far exceeds it, largely because it's worlds removed from the kiddies' TV cartoon.
A clue that all is not what it might be is the word Ninja in the title. Struck out by the BBC (along with a fair amount of the TV series' original martial artistry) in favour of Hero, it's re-inserted here in a film that stays the course of Laird and Eastman's original comic while the amphibians themselves, vastly simplified by the animator, have been suitably reconstructed constructed to resemble those first muscular, vaguely threatening drawings. And the biggest, most enjoyable difference of all is the foursome themselves. Devoid of the cartoon's gadgetry - flying cars and the like - they're afforded recognisable and very individual characters, thus providing through their interplay a platform for the snappy, bickering, fully grown-up humour the originators bestowed on their streetwise creations.
The story itself is mercifully simple. New York City is in the grip of Shredder's Fagin-style crime wave and the Turtles interrupt his progress by saving April O'Neill, a perpetually if impractically mini-skirted TV reporter, from a mugging. They do this more because they a) fancy her and b) like a good fight, rather from any deep-seated sense of right and wrong. After a quick spot of meditation and a crash course in moral fibre, the self-styled Heroes In Half Shells set out to rescue their kidnapped leader, during which we are treated to a deliberately hilarious flashback of how the Turtles became mutant, teenage and ninja, much chop-sockey type action, and love interest between said reporter and a bat-wielding vigilante called Casey Jones. Cleverly-constructed as it all is - fights for the boys; a hunk for the girls (Casey Jones); attitude for the teens; and sharp, satirical humour for adults (plus gratuitously generous flashes of O'Neill's thighs) - the end mix is so well blended as to never seem too cynical but merely a well-rounded, unpretentious, very funny, knockabout adventure. Truly a comic strip brought to life and, genuinely, fun for all the family.
A well-rounded, unpretentious, very funny, knockabout adventure - subtly blended so that it's fun for all the family.