TMNT is a film that has the heart that the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film had (and the other two sequels lacked), but it falls short in a few significant places.
The film’s biggest fault, unfortunately, is the performances from Mako as Splinter. Mako is an excellent actor, and I have not doubt that he could do the role well, but there’s a lack of energy and power in his performance that is undoubtedly related to his death from cancer. It’s particularly jarring compared to Kevin Clash’s performance in the same role from the first two live action TMNT films.
That said, there are some great performances here. Patrick Stewart does an excellent job in the role of Winters, and Sarah Michelle Gellar does a great job as April O’Neill. Chris Evans is also alright as Casey Jones, though the character comes across more like “dopey jock” as opposed to the version from the first film, which was closer to the character’s origins as a PG/PG-13 Travis Bickle.
My other little complaint relates to the fact that the cast lacks some in chemistry. This is less of an issue with the Turtles and Aguila’s men, as they’re played by actors who have plenty of voice acting experience. Even Patrick Stewart is no stranger to voice acting or voiceover work – particularly in gigs where the voice over for roles is recorded in isolation from the rest of the cast (as opposed to Batman: The Animated Series style, where roles are recorded together). By comparison, I feel that Gellar, Evans, and for that matter Zhang Ziyi (who plays Karai), need to have those other performances to work off of, leading to a failure of acting communication, which is something of a bummer.
This is the best Turtles film following the release of the first film, but that’s not exactly saying much. I have not yet seen the Michael Bay produced film, so I’ll see what I have to say about that later.