This has probably been among the most debated, hated and pessimistic productions of this year. Not to mention one of the most troubled productions in the past couple years. First it was going to get made, then it wasn’t. Audiences got dealt the subpar CGI animated film “TMNT” in 2007. Eventually, Michael Bay got his hands on it and streamlined the production and as soon as this happened fanboys everywhere were ready to go to war. Not only was it because of the mostly hated “Transformers” sequels (that he directed), but the several controversial changes that the newest live action film would be taking. The Turtles would have an extraterrestrial origin instead of it’s traditional one. Meghan Fox would star as the reporter April O’ Neil while the character of Shredder would be played by a white man William Fichtner (a character with Asian background). The uproar was so powerful and pronounced that many of these things were rethought out and done differently. That didn’t stop the pessimism from fans.
Then again so did the first “Transformers”, yet that was released to positive audience reviews. So where did this fall under? Fans worst nightmare coming to life in a sea of holy fire and ruin (like so many predicted) or a nice surprise like the first “Transformers”? Well it’s the middle actually. The Ninja Turtles themselves are well done with good special effects and given a lot of heart and humor. The action sequences are well directed and choreographed. Everything else though around it, is very lackluster. The writing is childish while the action is more aimed at adults. The acting is subpar and the ending is ripped straight out of “Amazing Spider-Man”, and there isn’t enough of the Turtles themselves.
A down on her luck reporter named April O’ Neil stumbles across a group of Mutant warriors that are defending the city of New York from the terrorist group called the Foot Clan. A kingpin connected to all of their pasts plan to take them down and steal the Ninja Turtles blood to use against the city they are protecting.
Now growing up I was not the biggest Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fan. I knew of them and occasionally watched it when it was on TV every once in a while. So no I don’t have some sort blind fanboy craze for the series, but then again I can’t always fault people who do. I don’t find the originals to amazing by any means nor do I with this one.
The best part of this movie is, without a doubt, the Turtles themselves. They were brought to life with well done special effects that give the characters plenty of personality to go along with excellent voice acting. The Turtles are fun and have great chemistry with one another . I may not have been the biggest Turtles fan, but from what I do now about them this is pretty spot on to the personalities and characters that fans know and love. Yet we don’t spend enough time with them.
characters, it’s always good to introduce them with a good core and (sometimes) and focused group of human characters. Then, they branch off to focus on the CGI characters that you’ve been introduced to. When you set it in our world, it becomes the fantastical in the mundane, and I think with certain film franchises you need to start off with mundane before you move into the fantastical. This is not a perminate rule that this applies to everything but in could be seen as a good rule of thumb.
The Turtles already have plenty of personality and humor for audiences to fall in love with, but the weakest and most underwritten part is the humans. They are charactures rather than flesh and blood. Will Arnett plays a creepy camera man, and Meghan Fox tries.. her absolute best. But, she once again brings in a one note performance. Of course we have the evil businessman played by William Fichtner. All of them are boring and in some cases annoying. Even Shredder is one note! He has one of the coolest looking designs and costumes in film this year, yet he feels like a big hired dumb goon. The Turtles on the other hand are fun and full of life. I wanted to spend my time with them, not Meghan Fox and Will Arnett.
I noted early that the writing is childish while the action is more aimed at adults. I’m not saying kids can’t handle the violence in this film, but some of it feels a bit more brutal than expected. The action is amped up from everything we’ve seen in the past (with the exception of the violent black and white comic books). Yet the writing, from the dialogue to the highly derivative plot, all feel very childish. It makes me wonder who is this movie aimed for?
The action sequences are first rate. People sometimes forget that Michael Bay didn’t direct this movie, Jonathan Liebesman did. Although he hasn’t really made anything of much merit in his life, he can certainly make a good action sequence. There are a couple really fun and exciting scenes of Turtle Ninja action, not just passable but memorable scenes.
There are more than a few good things in this film. However, once we make it to the highly derivative ending, it’s lost any charm it had before. I almost feel like I’m giving everyone a spoiler saying it was just like “The Amazing Spider-Man”, but it truly is almost note for note. This new “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” has its moments and isn’t quite the disaster so many were expecting but it isn’t strong enough to recommend either. A sequel has potential if you focus on the strengths and the strengths were the strength.