Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Movie Review

teenage-mutant-ninja-turtles-2014-poster

 

Director: Jonathan Liebesman

Producer: Michael Bay & Ian Bryce

Cast: Megan Fox/Will Arnett/William Fichtner/Alan Ritchson/Noel Fisher/Jeremy Howard/Pete Ploszek/Johnny Knoxville/Danny Woodburn/Tony Shalhoub/Tohoru Masamune

HEROES IN A HALF-SHELL

Broadcast journalist April O’Neil struggles on her scoop about the Foot Clan causing terror in New York City. While out on a nightly bike ride home, she witnesses some vigilantes and goes out of her way to capture photos and videos. The vigilantes turn out to be the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and from that point on, the turtles collaborate with O’Neill to stop the evil organization led by Shredder.

The Ups: Believe it or not, April O’Neil was a strong character in this movie even with the likes of the Megan Fox casting. In the beginning of the film, we see her being a passionate and committed journalist eager to get the true story out there for the citizens of New York, to the point where she goes out of her way to sneak photos and videos on her cellphone during her first encounter with the Foot Clan. And yet, she is patronized for her looks by her coworker Fern (Will Arnett) and assigned to do ridiculous fluff pieces. Also, the turtles themselves stayed true-to-character as we know them and their comedic and dramatic dialogue inserted when needed. Speaking of which, I admire the inside jokes that were acknowledged from the comic book origins to this film’s production woes. When O’Neil explains to Fern about the ninja turtles, he questions “Are they aliens?” with O’Neil replying back of how stupid that would be—basically a “wink” at the early production rumors of how they were going to make the turtles from space. For the younger audiences, the film definitely hits the action-movie formula notes well enough to be entertaining and easy to follow.

The Downs: While I liked how the turtles were portrayed, they lacked enough screen time individually to see any real character depth. The only turtle to get a subplot was Raphael, and it was the usual struggle of his angst and not being a team player—even then, it was brushed over quickly in order to move the story along. The fight scenes are a mixed bag: some seemed good, well-choreographed and shot in a way that didn’t give out any motion sickness, and other scenes made you think how are they still alive after going through XYZ. Fans of the comics, cartoons and movies of the past may be disappointed by changes made to the lore of the franchise. Basically, they traded-in Splinter’s connection to Shredder by giving April a connection to the mutants and the Foot Clan instead. Last but not least, these two visuals really bothered me: certain scenes with the CGI and animation of the turtles (I’m still not used to the pseudo-realistic look) and Megan Fox’s constant pout to the point where she’s basically a mouth-breather.

Overall: The last time the four-shelled siblings had been on the big screen was back in 2007 in the CG animated film TMNT, serving as the spiritual sequel to the ’90s trilogy. Now each previous series of cartoons, movies and comic all have slight differences in the origins of the Turtles, and this film is no different in that respect. However, they may have changed a little too much considering the obvious plot holes in this film. To long-time fans of a franchise, changing the established origin story is usually considered blasphemy, and in the case of the Turtles, lets say we’ve been shell-shocked. With that in mind, this is definitely marketed towards a newer generation rather than catering to the older audience.

Grade Rating: 3 out of 5

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