American Fable is ambitious, maybe too much so sometimes, but there's an intense pleasure in the boldness of the film's style.
Anyone unfortunate enough to have a Nintendo device in the house will be familiar with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, who star in one of the most insidiously addictive Nintendo games. The turtles live in the subways beneath Manhattan, where, exposed to radiation, they have grown into teenager-sized, intelligent creatures, and have absorbed such items from the culture as surfer jargon.
On the Nintendo screen, the turtles leap, spin, cartwheel and eat pizza. Everything they do is accompanied by the same maddening music, which plays over and over again until it drills itself into the tooth of your mind. There are said to be many levels to the video game, but I succeeded in penetrating only to the second before I realized I had to abandon Ninja Turtles that instant, or risk permanent psychic damage.
Now comes "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" the movie. I did not walk into the screening with a light step and a heart that sang. For that matter, I did not walk out afterward with my spirits renewed. But this movie is nowhere near as bad as it might have been, and probably is the best possible Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle movie.
It supplies, in other words, more or less what Turtle fans will expect: the Ninja Turtles, subways, pizzas, villains, a rudimentary plot and an explanation of how the Turtles met their Zen-master, a wise old rodent.