Most of the action centers around Leonardo and Donatello, with the other crime fighters taking a back seat to the action, along with a superfluous archaeologist/martial artist named April (Sarah Michelle Gellar) and her live-in boyfriend, the baseball-wielding Casey Jones (Chris Evans).  But who, exactly, is the villain?  In the first part of the film, it’s Maximillian Winters (Patrick Stewart), a millionaire who is building an army of stone warriors.  Later, it’s the 13 monsters.  Then it's the brother’s old enemy Karai (Ziyi Zhang) and her sidekicks.  So, even though the action is very violent, with plenty of weapons and murder – which makes it inappropriate for small children—the film’s ambling plot actually seems geared to younger children, who won’t question the discrepancies.

As with the ’90s live action films, the dialogue aims for down-to-earth humorous.  “Don, why don’t we have jet packs?” says Leo.  “Hey, I don’t even trust you with a driver’s license.”  “Oh, someone’s cranky!” he replies.  In the end, however, it’s a film that feels haphazardly thrown together, and which reflects the inexperience of first-time writer/director Kevin Munroe.

From a spiritual perspective, references to Eastern religions abound.  The story also has an occult feel to it, with both the monsters and the warriors acting like demons and talk of power coming from another “world.”  On the other hand, the ninjas do fight evil.  Not only that, but their leader does not allow them to fight unless they maintain perfect unity.  The film ends with the following message:

“We live together.  We train together.  We fight together.  We stand for good—together.  We are ninjas.  We strike hard—defend, protect and fade into the night.  And there ain’t no bad guy who’s ever gonna change that.  That’s what’s important, and that’s why we’ll always be brothers.”  It’s a lesson the church would do well to heed.  In the meantime, caveat emptor.

AUDIENCE:  Children 6 or older

DVD EXTRAS:

  • Commentary by writer/director Kevin Munroe
  • Alternate Opening (“Splinter Tells the Back Story”)
  • Alternate Ending (with Casey and Abigail)
  • Deleted Scene (Mikey Sneaking Food to Splinter)
  • Side-by-Side Comparison of Storyboards and CGI Action
  •  Interviews with Patrick Stewart, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Laurence Fishburne and filmmakers
  • Miscellaneous

CAUTIONS:

  • Drugs/Alcohol:  None.
  • Language/Profanity:  Mild to none.  A character takes the Lord’s name in vain in Spanish (“Dios mio!”); other characters make “yo’ mama” style jokes.
  • Sexual Content/Nudity:  Two unmarried characters live together (although there is no mention or even a hint of sex); two characters kiss; female character’s costume hugs and highlights her breasts.
  • Violence:  Strong.  A martial arts theme runs throughout the film with characters using swords, machetes and daggers to attack and defend themselves, putting many in mortal danger.  Characters also carry and point guns, hit, kick, shove and threaten violence (including a knife to the throat, in one scene).  General mayhem and destruction all around.
  • Spirituality:  A plot that centers around monsters and warriors who have received power from a heavenly “other world,” after the stars and constellations “aligned.”  Various references to Eastern mysticism and religions, such as a character who is a “sensei,” or martial arts expert, and a character who meditates and talks about being “centered,” usually with lit candles surrounding him.  A character is transported into the sky while being transformed into light.