TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES:
WHILE NOT THE MOST FAITHFUL FILM ADAPTATION IN THE FRANCHISE, IT’S A BLAST OF STUPID, MINDLESS, TURTLE FUN!
By Nico Beland
Movie Review: C (2 ½ stars) Amusement Rating: B- (3 stars)
PARAMOUNT PICTURES AND NICKELODEON MOVIES
(From left to right) Leonardo, Donatello, Michelangelo, and Raphael coming out of their shells as the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
From director, Jonathan Liebesman (The Killing Room, Battle: Los Angeles, Wrath of the Titans) and producer, Michael Bay (Transformers franchise) comes the latest film adaptation of the enormously popular Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise. It felt like it’s been a decade since the last theatrically released Turtle film, TMNT back in 2007, and now we have this new film under the Nickelodeon label, which also currently owns the rights to the entire franchise and the recent animated series.
Megan Fox (Transformers, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, Jennifer’s Body) stars as news reporter in New York City, April O’ Neil, minus the yellow jumpsuit, which makes sense after the whole Michael Bay incident during Transformers: Dark of the Moon’s production. Her job is to report all the crime going on in the city, involving a group of assassins known as the Foot Clan, led by the grating supervillain, The Shredder (Tohoru Masamune), a trained samurai in a suit of armor, with knives and other blades in it.
April eventually discovers that someone is fighting back the Foot Clan, the anamorphic reptiles known as the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Four brother turtles who live down in the sewers of New York City, named after the great Renaissance painters, Computer nerd, Donatello (voiced and motion capture by Jeremy Howard-Galaxy Quest, How The Grinch Stole Christmas, Malcolm in the Middle), Child at heart, Michelangelo (voiced and motion capture by Noel Fisher-Final Destination 2, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2, X-Men: Evolution), Tough and aggressive, Raphael (voiced and motion capture by Alan Richton-Fired Up!, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Smallville), and their leader, Leonardo (voiced by Johnny Knoxville-Jackass, Men in Black II) love the following things, Fighting bad guys, practicing Ninjutsu, making pop culture references, and of course, pizza.
When the Turtles realize a human being has spotted them, they are ordered to locate April and bring her into the sewers, by their teacher and father, a talking rat named Splinter (voiced by Tony Shalhoub-Monk, Men in Black, Pain & Gain and motion capture by Danny Woodburn-Seinfeld, Employee of the Month, Watchmen) to explain to her their backstory.
It turns out April’s father was a scientist who was working on a cure for a deadly disease and he created toxic ooze that contains the cure. We all know about animal testing right? Well, her father, along with another scientist, Eric Sacks (William Fichtner-Heat, Crash, The Lone Ranger) were testing the cure on four baby turtles and a rat, and after a freak accident April, as a young girl takes the turtles and the rat out of the burning laboratory and takes them to the sewers and in time the ooze’s side effects cause the turtles and rat to mutate into the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Splinter.
Meanwhile, The Shredder and Eric Sacks have a diabolical plan to capture the Turtles and extract the ooze from their blood to unleash a deadly chemical substance to wipe out the city. So, it’s up to the Turtles, Splinter, April, and her companion, Vernon Fenwick (Will Arnett-Blades of Glory, The Lego Movie, Arrested Development) to stop The Shredder and Sacks before it’s too late.
Overall, this new take of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is undeniably flawed, stupid, and rather unnecessary, but at least the film is entertaining and kept my interest all the way through. However at times it felt like a remake of the original 1990 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie, like the original film it was a darker and edgier take on the Turtles story, but of course they still had plenty of silly Turtle humor thrown in there.
The CG animation and Motion Capture on the Turtles and Splinter does look impressive and gives them a distinctive appearance, but the Jim Henson animatronics from the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze had a strange charm and were more entertaining to watch, basically it’s what you would get if you merge the Turtles from TMNT 2007 with the live-action setting and characters from the 90s films, just add “Bayhem”.
One very positive thing I had to say about the film is the new Shredder, they really re-invented the character and this time he’s far more intimidating than The Shredder from the original movies and cartoon series, it almost felt like a live-action version of The Shredder from the 2003 4Kids cartoon.
Now even though I liked parts of this new Turtles movie, I would not consider it a faithful adaptation of the original series, if you’re expecting an accurate Turtles movie out of this, you should just stick with the 1990 film, it’s closer to what you’re looking for. But if you have young kids who are fans of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, they might enjoy it, it had some amusing moments and it might be fun for a family outing.
Also if you’re fans of Michael Bay’s Transformers movies and just want to see a movie with stuff blowing up and cheesy dialogue, you’re bound to enjoy it, thankfully it wasn’t Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III bad, but if you want a movie that’s really smart and really funny and action-packed, you should just go see Guardians again.