Saturday, November 21, 2009

"Turtles Forever" Review

What do you get when you cross the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles shows from 2003 and 1987? Sheer, overwhelming awesomeness, as shown by "Turtles Forever," a direct-to-DVD movie which was aired on CW4Kids today.

Through some means, the 1987 Turtles end up in the dimension of the 2003 Turtles. I missed the first 30 minutes, so I don't know how exactly, and frankly I don't care. Even if the set-up was immensely stupid, the rest of the movie would make up for it. The Turtles, of course, must team up to defeat both sets of villains.

Fans of the older show will be happy to see the villains Shredder, Krang, Bepop, Rocksteady and the Foot Soldiers appear, and enjoy the appearances of Splinter and April as well. Fans of the newer series will also get their version of Shredder, as well as Hun, Karai, Splinter, Casey Jones and April. And of course, both sets of the Turtles.

This is a shining example of what a crossover should be. Whoever wrote this was obviously a fan of both shows, and they treated both casts of characters with respect and kept them in-character throughout. The interaction between the two groups is priceless, with the 2003 group notably annoyed by their goofier counterparts, and the 1987 group poking fun at their overly-serious counterparts.

Even though I've never watched the newer version of the Turtles, I was able to follow the action and keep up with the cast of new characters with almost no confusion, and I suspect the same would be true of people who have watched the 2003 version only. The writers cleverly used the two groups being unfamiliar with each other's worlds as a way to sneak in bits and pieces of exposition, but never enough to distract from the plot or the flow of the story.

Some of the best moments are related to the differences in the two worlds, with the 2003 Turtles being dumb-founded by the 1987 April ("What's with the yellow jumpsuit? Do you work in a car wash in this world?") and the 1987 Turtles reaction to the 2003 Shredder being some sort of alien entity. The 2003 characters are perplexed by the 1987 Turtles occasional asides to the cameras and look around in confusion to try and find the person they're addressing. (One character even yells: "Who do you keep talking to? There's no one there!")

But don't think that the show is all goofiness. There is plenty of action, and there were several moments where I thought "Holy crap. How are they going to get out of that?"

There were times when I thought they were being a little too hard on the 1987 Turtles, but there was one moment that really made up for it. At one point, the 1987 Turtles are warned by the 2003 Turtles that they might die if they go along for a fight. The 1987 characters exchange some glances and then say they're coming.

If you're a fan of either TMNT show, this is well worth watching. Heck, if you're a fan of any incarnation of the Turtles, this is well worth watching, as they sneak in references to the comic and the live action movies as well. It makes me want to dig through my old tapes and watch old episodes of the 1987 series. It also makes me want to check out the newer series, which I initially rejected because they weren't my Turtles.

If this is 4Kids' way of apologizing for their dubs of Yu-Gi-Oh, Pokemon and One Piece . . . it's not enough. But they're one step closer to earning forgiveness.

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