Thursday, August 7, 2014

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Review (2014)

Let’s get one thing out of the way: up until now I haven’t seen anything “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” (TMNT) related. I haven’t read any of the original comics, I haven’t seen any of the cartoons and I haven’t seen any of the live action movies. In fact, I don’t even recall playing with a single Ninja Turtle action figure when I was a kid. Therefore, I walked into the latest live action/CGI TMNT picture with no real expectations or opinion one way or the other. And since I haven’t seen any of the previous TMNT movies I can only attest to the quality of this one.

With all that out of the way, I can say that this new feature—directed by Jonathan Leibsman-- didn’t give me much reason to care about the half shelled heroes and their struggles.

The movie follows four mutated turtles—named Leonardo, Michelangelo, Raphael and Donatello--that have been taught martial arts by a mutated rat. They live in the sewer and love pop culture and pizza. For some reason it’s Pizza Hut. I don’t care if you’re a turtle or a human no one should eat Pizza Hut. But I digress. Their enemy is a Japanese clan known as The Foot (real inspired name there, guys) led by a shadowy evil dude who wears a robotic Samurai suit.

Immediately my mind filled with questions; they live in the sewer and want to be out of the public sight but then how do they get Pizza Hut? The Foot Clan has been secretly plotting to take over the city using a poisonous gas but they already appear to be a well structured and established organization that are capable of taking an entire subway full of people hostage. Not to mention the fact that the cops—the movie takes place in New York City—are virtually nonexistent. So, why do they have to be so secretive about their takeover? They could take the city in twenty minutes tops. And while we’re on this subject, how come everything the Turtles do—their fights with The Foot—have no relationship to the rest of the movie’s environment? During the climactic roof battle poisonous gas is about to be released onto the entire city and yet police and civilians alike stand on the street looking like idiots. Getting in the way of falling debris.

Oh, look at me. I’m asking logic questions concerning a movie about mutant turtles. Yes, TMNT is a kids’ movie, pure and simple. Which means it isn’t a movie for me. But, I am film critic after all and so it’s my job to review the film and I can only review it from my perspective, which is that of a twenty-year-old male. The film is ninety eight percent action and two percent character development. Each turtle is given a single trait—one is brainy, one is a doofus, and so on—and a different color headband. Important plot points are boringly told to us in voice over or by some supporting character. In other words Leibsman and crew are going for the absolute bare minimum.

Again, it’s a kids’ movie so none of that is very surprising, what’s more surprising though is that the screenplay is credited to three people—Josh Appelbaum, Andre Nemec, Daughtery—how can that possibly be? The story is as thin as the thinnest napkin and yet it took three people to write it? To end this paragraph on a positive note I will say that the visual effects do look very good, including the turtles themselves. You can see every vein, scratch, dimple and wrinkle on their faces and bodies.

I have yet to mention Megan Fox. Oh yes, the “Transformers” and “Jonah Hex” actress, that Megan Fox. She plays the human protagonist, a TV news reporter who’s tired of being given fluff pieces and whose father just so happens to be the one who mutated the turtles and their rat Sensei in the first place. Her character serves no purpose other than to get in the way of things and stand off to the side while the Turtles kick butt. And in case it wasn’t already clear, Fox can’t act to save her life. While the other human characters—played by the likes of William Fichtner and Will Arnett—are having a grand old time hamming it up, Fox insists on taking her character seriously, like she’s Lois Lane or something.

Again, again I realize this movie isn’t meant for adults but what’s wrong with throwing in a little something for the parents who are taking their kids to see it? There are plenty of children’s movies that do just that. Oh well, I’ve said my piece on this picture. Even if it had left me in an especially rotten mood there would be no reason to tear it to shreds; it’s silly and it knows it. The kiddies should be entertained and grown up Turtle fan boys who wish they were kids will probably be entertained too. As for me, this movie pretty much eliminated any interest I might have had in the Turtles before.

C (For the children)

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