MUTANT NINJA TURTLES
SYNOPSIS: The city needs heroes. Darkness has settled over New York City as Shredder and his evil Foot Clan have an iron grip on everything from the police to the politicians. The future is grim until four unlikely outcast brothers rise from the sewers and discover their destiny as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The Turtles must work with fearless reporter April O’Neil (Megan Fox) and her wise-cracking cameraman Vern Fenwick (Will Arnett) to save the city and unravel Shredder’s diabolical plan. Based on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Characters Created by PETER LAIRD and KEVIN EASTMAN with a Screenplay by JOSH APPELBAUM & ANDRÉ NEMEC and EVAN DAUGHERTY, Producer MICHAEL BAY (the blockbuster Transformers franchise) and director JONATHAN LIEBESMAN (Wrath of the Titans) bring Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the popular franchise that has captivated audiences of all ages for decades, into the 21st century.
REVIEW: “Cowabunga dudes!” Is what I would be saying if Michael Bay’s new TMNT film lived up to the fantastic memories of the cartoons and comics of my childhood, or if it was at least a great movie in its own right. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Going into this movie, I knew that it was probably not going to live up to the nostalgic recollections of myself and many other movie goers; after all, this is a modern cinematic take on the turtles, and it is also directed by Michael Bay. However, from the first thirty minutes of the film I was cringing and sinking in my chair, eager for the experience to be over.
The movie begins with the classic exposition piece about the turtles and their enemy the Foot clan, and about becoming heroes while giving aerial shots of an animated New York. After this the movie dives right in to focus on the main character, the one we all know and love: Megan Fox as April O’Neil. Yup. A movie titled “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” yet you see more of the yellow jacket-wearing reporter than you do of the titular heroes. Now I understand why the director would do this, add suspense by waiting to reveal the heroes everybody is waiting for, and ground the movie for the audience by starting them off with the more relatable human character of April. The problem stems from Megan Fox’s shoddy acting. April O’Neil is supposed to be an intelligent and capable woman, but Fox’s frequent and unnecessary screaming and rambling speeches sorta put down the character, and her overuse of heavy breathing and gasps was reminiscent of Marilyn Monroe’s rendition of “Happy Birthday.”
Will Arnett plays the role of April’s lonely camera guy, and although he does add some comic relief to the film, sometimes he comes off a bit… creepy. Like when he stared at April’s butt for instance. Other characters in the film include William Fichtner as wealthy businessman Eric Sacks, who is not a completely horrible character, but his bad puns were excruciating (i.e. “April’s come early this year.” I bet he was waiting his whole life to use that one). The main antagonist is Shredder, the evil samurai that has plagued the turtles for as long as I can remember them being on television. Shredder does some pretty badass things in this movie, and does come off as a menacing villain, unfortunately due to this movie’s love of flashy visuals he looks more like something out of “Real Steel” than an agile samurai. Also, the villain’s main plan and the plot of the entire movie is basically a rip-off of “The Amazing Spiderman”. I’m not joking. When I came to this realization I was ready to walk out of the theatre, lest I watch the same movie twice without meaning to. Also, product placement ran rampant throughout the movie, blatantly throwing Pizza Hut, Orange Crush Soda, and Underarmour right in your face.
Luckily, through all of my suffering watching this film, there was one saving grace for the Ninja Turtles movie: The Ninja Turtles. By the grace of God, Michelangelo, Raphael, Donatello, and Leonardo are all intact as fun, funny, and enjoyable characters. Each character is given their own unique personality just like in the cartoons, further exposed by their voice acting and visual “flair” (i.e. Donny wearing glasses to show he is the smart one) which many have complained about, but I did not find all that offensive. The “teenage” part of their title definitely shows off with their witty and immature banter, their brotherly disputes, and their love of pizza. Their martial arts moves were definitely enjoyable (though they seemed to prefer punching guys across a room), and their banter had the audience laughing enough to make this film not so dismal. I feel that the movie could’ve been a lot better if it focused more on the turtles than everything else. Bay does do a good job of getting to the heart of what the turtles are all about: brotherhood, and good old fashioned butt kicking.
Ultimately, for me, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was a disappointment. I walked into the theatre with an open mind, and I was let down by sub-par acting and a washed out plot, not to mention a myriad of other details that my nitpicky-self caught, but I’ll spare you any more ranting. If you were a diehard fan of the Ninja turtles in the 80’s and 90’s, or if you don’t like Megan Fox, I wouldn’t suggest spending your money watching this movie. But, if you have some kids who enjoy the new cartoon airing on Nickelodeon, or if you casually enjoy the turtles and don’t have a deep disdain for Michael Bay’s directing style, go ahead and give this movie a try. Personally, I’m going to pretend the film never happened.
By Joshua Tree
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