Animated Manhattan: TMNT
Part 17 in an ongoing series looking at New York City in animation.
The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have once again been adapted for the big screen. According to the movie’s opening narration and also the official movie summary, the movie takes place in New York City. But while it sure looks like it takes place in New York, something’s missing. See if you can figure out what it is.
Here’s a shot of the city from the movie:
Okay, it looks pretty good. I don’t really recognize any of the buildings in this view, but they got the general feel right, down to the water towers on the rooftops. Here’s another shot:
That’s a pretty good rendering of a New York City streetcorner. Okay.
Another lovely skyline shot. I still don’t recognize any buildings, but I suppose that could be the Brooklyn Bridge in the image. Kinda hard to tell.
Now that’s definitely lower Manhattan, with Brooklyn across the harbor. Except I still don’t recognize any buildings. And where’s the Statue of Liberty? Are we really in New York City? Or some generic lookalike city?
Finally, an aerial view! That looks like it’s supposed to be Manhattan in the middle there, with New Jersey across the Hudson River, and Brooklyn across the East River. Except lower Manhattan’s not really that angular. So it’s not perfect, but pretty close.
But wait. What the hell is this building? I guess I’m fine with fictional buildings in a fiction movie, but if it’s supposed to be New York City, shouldn’t we see some of the real buildings, too?
And I know that’s not a New York City license plate.
Newspaper titles don’t really get much more generic than that one. [Although the newspaper does seem to say “NYC Cleanup” which I missed the first time around. Thanks to Grant for pointing that out in the comments]
Even the skyline on the local news is missing any landmark buildings.
I can only reach one conclusion: Despite the official movie synopsis, and the opening voiceover, [and the newspaper headline] this movie doesn’t take place in New York City at all. It’s meant to evoke the atmosphere and feeling of the city, but seems to take place in a generic version of New York City. The animators did a really good job rendering Manhattan-like settings, but with no landmarks, and no mention of New York in the dialogue (they refer just to “the city”), I assume they decided to go all the way and officially call it “New York City” only after the movie was nearly complete.
(My rating is for the depiction of NYC only; in this case, they get high scores for the look and feel, but low scores for the lack of anything actually representing New York City)