Monday, August 11, 2014

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Review

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Director: Jonathan Liebesman
Cast Headliners: Megan Fox, Will Arnett, Johnny Knoxville
Original Release Date: August 8th, 2014
Everyone loves the Teenage Mutant Ninjas Turtles. Maybe however the word would be loved the “classic” TMNT franchise.  Hollywood has come again to grab a nostalgic IP and drag it out with a reboot, and the four green brothers are its next victim.  After many years in development hell and rumors of radical changes (aliens! Other planets! Removing “teenage” and “mutant “from the name!)  Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014) is here with Michael Bay producing in tow. It’s….. an interesting movie.
            The premise is one that’s been seen many times across many adaptations of turtles. The Foot Clan lead by Shredder (Tohoru Masamune) is causing ruckus in New York City and there are reports of vigilantes who aim to step them.   The human heroine of the film is April O Neil, a lead played by Megan Fox which is not a very good starting point for the quality of the film.
Technically April as a character is just about the same character as she usually is, but Miss Fox has stooped to a new low of lameness even past the Transformers films. She literally either just stands there, asks plot exposition, or mainly just screaming and running.  However the movie isn’t all about her; it isn’t about other “goofy” characters like Will Arnett’s Vernon Fenwick or Whoopi Goldberg’s Bernadette Thompson. It’s about ninja turtles.
Several things are gotten right about the turtle brothers but yet also they are imperfect.  Raphael (Alan Ritchson) is in classic angry form and his vocal performance is good, but for some reason he has sun glasses with no explanation.  He otherwise seems right out of the old cartons, along with the mostly humorous Michelangelo (Noel Fisher).  For some reason Leonardo was motion captured by one actor (Pete Ploszek) but voiced by another (Johnny Knoxville) but it works out as he’s as calm and collected as ever.  The character who has been ruined though is Donatello (Jeremy Howard). Before he had been the intelligent and shy one, but never taken to these extremes. He’s been given a pair of taped up glasses, and a extremely annoying “nerdy” voice and personality. It’s an irritating part of the film though he gets an alright line or two. This purple banded one had been my favorite though so it’s personally irksome. 
The CGI effects on the turtles look pretty fluid aside from design changes. The effects are also quality on Splinter ( co-acted/played by Danny Woodburn and Tony Shalhoub) and the mentioned Shredder who is as vile as ever. It’s a shame that some quality characters and interactions are drowned out by shallow villains like William Fichtner as business mogul Erick Sacks or Minae Noji as Karai(who is way less awesome than usual).
The movie has a lot of weird moments of attempted but failed humor. Sometimes humor comes through but is majorly immature. Too many pop culture references are used.  Action sequences are sometimes way too dark or confusing.  However, there are occasionally truly fun action sequences such as a standout part on an icy mountain slope (side note: in New York state in March, what the heck?) and the film’s surprisingly semi-intense final showdown.  Sometimes the action was indecipherable. 
Overall the movie is a “mixed bag.”  Even though it wasn’t directly directed by Michael Bay (instead by Battle: Los Angeles director Jonathan Liebesman) it shares many tropes with the Transformers film series.  Luckily weird alterations weren’t made to the premise since it’s in many ways a near remake of the ideas from the first ninja turtles film. But it’s very messy, and sits in a weird position between being entertaining and being laughably bad. It’s just extremely “meh.”  7 out of 10

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