It’s fair to say the TMNT audience has been split fairly evenly between children growing up in the noughties and those that grew up in the ’80s. The light-hearted, family-friendly cartoon characters were first introduced on TV in the immensely-successful 1987 animated series; then, in 2003, the series was revived by the Fox Network, with the Turtles being darker and edgier, more closely resembling the original characters in Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird’s 1984 comic book.
In an attempt to please everybody and unite audiences, Roy Burdine and Lloyd Goldfine’s crossover concept for this 2009 made-for-TV animated movie could’ve ended up being a disaster. I’ll admit that I was very pessimistic at first, especially seen as though I’ve witnessed some God-awful crossover attempts in my time (Alien Vs. Predator). I’m pleased to say, however, the team behind this project have handled things pretty well.
The 2003 and 1987 Turtles first meet one another when their dimensions collide via a portal device, which also brings the original arch-enemies (Shredder and Krang) and the battle fortress (the Technodrome) along from the past. The eight Turtles notice their obvious personality differences at first — the 1987 Turtles prefer humour over the seriousness of the 2003 Turtles — which establishes a love/hate relationship.
The story develops when the Shredder discovers that there is a version of him in the ’00s, from which he attempts to erase the original “prime” universe of the Turtles via his invasion of the 1984 comic book world. This setup takes a fair bit to get going, but when it does, it is then up to all of the Turtles — including the black-and-white Mirage Turtles — to do battle with their evil counterparts in a bid to save their existence.
The writers do a pretty good job here: The story is well-thought out, and the contrast between the different dimensions is nothing short of fascinating. Seeing the characters interact with one another will undoubtedly bring with an element of nostalgia, but the film is also very entertaining on a technical level as well.
There is nice blend of action and comedy in portraying the different personalities and fighting styles of each of the Turtle clans, paying tribute to the success of the comicbooks and the separate cartoons on TV. I do, however, think the writers are guilty of emphasising the family-friendliness of the ’80s Turtles a little too much in parts; and the overuse of the line “what the shell?!” becomes increasingly annoying as the film goes on.
Commendable is the artwork, with the characters and backgrounds from the ’80s and ’00s dimensions appearing virtually identical to how they looked back in the day. The animation appears very fluent, even when the crowded action scenes involving the large roster of characters take priority. All the familiar favourites are here, which is very pleasing; even the original Turtles vehicles, the Party Wagon and Turtle Blimp, make a comeback to heighten the excitement.
A lot of fans of the ’80s cartoon tend to scorn at the 2003 animated series (myself included), without realising the Turtles from the latter bare a closer resemblance to the characters in the comic books. When the original black-and-white Turtles — who look like a group of absolute badasses by the way — are introduced during the final few scenes of this movie, we are made to see they are not only an essential part of the story, but an indication that the Turtles franchise has come full circle.
I do have an issue with the voice acting of the ’80s characters here, which stars none of the original actors (which unfortunately means no James Avery as Master Splinter). The new actors do a decent job intimidating the original cast, but Leonardo’s voice, particularly, is annoying. The reason the original cast hasn’t returned here is apparently something to do with union issues, so it’s not all the fault of the producers, though.
Still, with its negatives considered, the overall quality of this movie is still pretty good: Turtles Forever is a great way to wrap up twenty-five years of the franchise for the passionate fans out there. So, whether you’re a fan of just the comic books, the 1987 series, the 2003 series, or all three together, there has never been a better reason for Turtles fans from different generations to unite than this.