Monday, November 23, 2009
Metaphorically speaking, this idea was explored in the recent made-for-TV movie, "Turtles Forever," in which three iterations of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles had to team up to protect the future of all universes, or at least those which contained mutant turtles.
Before the property shifts to Nickelodeon, 4-Kids Entertainment had an opportunity to bid the franchise farewell. What they made was undeniably the best Turtles story to appear on film since the 1990 movie. In fact, it may surpass even that.
The movie effectively concludes the animated series that has been running on Saturday mornings since 2003. While we haven't watched religiously, we've likely seen more episodes than we've missed, at least from the first three seasons. While there were several missteps, this version of the cartoon series got more right than wrong. The writers somehow incorporated scores of aliens, inter-dimensional beings, super-science, and ancient mystical artifacts into a universe that sometimes made sense.
Unfortunately, there were some poor decisions, including a generic knock-off of the Justice League, a tedious season spent in the future, and one of most obnoxious androids to ever appear animated. None of the above intruded on the movie, however it did retain another faux-paus from the series.
New viewers may be confused why the modern Shredder is portrayed as a small, pink alien squid. They will not realize that they've been spared the horrors of the digital Shredder, the spirit Shredder, and the Dragon Shredder.
Fundamentally, the movie is a comedy, juxtaposing the modern team with their less serious 80's equivalents. It is, of course, zany, but not appreciably more so than the famous "Justice Guild" episode of Justice League. Does this feel somewhat derivative of that? Of course. Is this a problem? Not in the least.
The highpoint of the movie occurs later, when the aforementioned teams meet a third group of turtles. If all worlds are built atop the shell of a turtle, it reasons that the multiverse could be controlled by the one who overthrows the progenitor of all other turtles.
Well, that makes sense in comic-logic, which seems to be what they're using. This is, indeed, Crisis on Infinite Earths, down to the white border that erases all. Again, derivative, but not in a bad way. Because, if Shredder wants to combat the originals, that means an opportunity to see them animated.
And we were not disappointed. Black and white, sadistic, and ready to kill, the designs which appeared in Eastman and Laird's original comic have, after 25 years, finally been put on a screen. That they shared screen time with their goofy, pizza-eating relatives, as well as the modern, Timm-influenced team, was icing on the cake.
Or, if you prefer, cheese on the pie. Either way, this was an inspired celebration of the heroes in a half-shell. If you've ever been a fan of the Turtles and you missed Turtles Forever this weekend, make a point of tracking it down.