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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.
It’s definitely possible to have fun with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I enjoyed this movie far more than I expected and far more than I probably should. The Turtles themselves are full of life and mostly satisfy the characteristics you’re looking for in each character with Leonardo as the balanced leader, Raphael as the passionate brother with a chip on his shoulder, Donatello is the technologically inclined brother, and Michaelangelo is the heart and comic relief of the group. Did I mention that they’re brothers? Nailed it. They fight, they laugh, they’re each others best friends, and also their worst critics. BROTHERS. Their interactions with each other take center stage and among the high moments of the film.
The movie certainly hit a lot of the right beats with your favorite foursome with me laughing at more than one of the jokes delivered by the turtles and smirking at the winks and nods to the prior cartoons and theatrical films. YES, this movie tries not to completely alienate fans of the old with all that is new. And it mostly succeeds! The turtles themselves are modernized incarnations of the characters we knew with each one going as far as to wear their personalities on their sleeves. No, seriously, Donatello walks around with a mobile computer crime station on his back and Raphael is the only turtle that sports a full on badass bandana. This TMNT is very fresh and I can’t help but directly compare some of the differences.
I’m sure the plot of this new TMNT, and the revised origins of everything, will be blasphemous for folks clinging to the original cartoon or movies. There’s mostly winks and nods for those vocal online fans who heard about the proposed alien origin. I try to turn a blind eye to the story mainly because both the original and the new stories are supposed to be for kids so I can’t fault one for being more absurd than the other.
Master Splinter was decent if not weird looking. His character is spot on but but I’m not a fan of the redesign. Then there’s the Shredder. The Shredder has always been an imposing threat to the TMNT, and routinely whoops their tails in hand to hand combat. In this movie he dons the Mark 2 Iron Man armor and is dubbed, by me, as Robo-Shredder. I am not a fan of this iteration. The character himself is completely without motive and is so inconsistent in his portrayal that the presentation of his character is unforgivable to those of us who love to hate the Shredder.
The Foot Clan are a disappointment to me because of the differences. Gone are my gang of menacing ninja’s of the night and instead we have muscleheads with guns that are about 1 step removed from generic movie terrorist. Sure they’re supposed to just be fodder for the turtles to plow through, but what we get here is a new level of mediocrity for the clan. If you’re walking into this Ninja movie expected a substantial amount of martial arts action then you will be sadly disappointed. In fact there’s very little martial arts in this movie at all with it mostly relegated to a few scenes in the entire movie that are usually CGI enhanced so it’ll be practically impossible for this movie to resuscitate the karate chopping in schools craze adopted by kids in the late 80s and early 90s.
I have a hard time determining how to critique the acting in a childrens film. The actors clearly are restraining themselves to adapt for their audience because this is a family movie, and the poster told me in advance that this would star Megan Fox, so Clearly I knew what I was getting myself into. That being said, the kids will not mind Megan Fox one bit and considering that April O’neil requires little more than the damsel in distress routine she handles this role… well, let’s just move on to Will Arnett. The moments of humor in the movie are what maintained my mostly positive outlook on this movie and Arnett was able to scrape some together with his role as Vernon Fenwick. Thank Bob for him and Michaelangelo as these two really helped carry a lot of the movie for me due to poor writing even for kid movie standards. The inconsistency with the story vs the dialogue (even with individual characters) is so jarring you wonder just how many cooks were in the kitchen when it came time to make dialogue. It’s like everyone was written by a different writer and then all blended together into what was intended to be a coherent film.
Changes aside I still found a way to have fun with this movie. It had enough of what I wanted to see in the characters that I can accept a lot of the changes and power through. The action sequences may have had a distinct lack of martial arts but were thrilling nonetheless. It’s fun watching the characters use their abilities in this incredibly intense scenes and I have to say I was impressed with a lot of these moments. Again, this movie is absurd. Utterly ridiculous. IT’s so ridiculous and funny that you reach a point that you throw sense and expectations out of the window and allow yourself to have fun with the movie. And just when TMNT is about to over stay its welcome it ends and hindsight settles in and you remember how different the film was and how silly the story got. Silly, but fun.
I give TMNT a fair 6.5 out of 10
go ahead and give the new turtles a shot.