The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot has been a very controversial topic since the movie’s release. Once news broke that Michael Bay was attached, who most fans will seemingly never forgive for the Transformers franchise, and the new design for the turtles leaked, people began longing for their 90’s Ninja Turtles nostalgia to return to the big screen. So does a modern live action Ninja Turtles flick have what it takes to stand up to this Summer’s action movies or are the TMNTs best days back in the 90’s?
First off i’d like to note that I was a big fan of the turtles when I was a kid and they are a fond part of my childhood. That said, I wasn’t as opposed to the new look of the Ninja Turtles as most fans seemed to be. I went in to the theatre with an open mind and my expectations appropriately leveled at the middle ground.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is not a complete abomination, it’s not bad actually. However it also isn’t good by any stretch of the imagination. Ironically the Ninja Turtles, which fans were most worried about, are the best part of the movie both graphically and performance wise. It’s really the human characters that bog down the movie as well as some poor dialogue and a relatively predictable plot.
The basic story for the movie is Shredder and his evil Foot Clan have are controlling everything from the police to the politicians in NYC. He plans to release poison in the city to have the citizens of New York in the palm of his hands. An ally has the antidote for the poison and together they will control the city unless the Turtles and April can stop them.
Here are my main problems with this story. I figured out the plot within the first 20 minutes as I suspect most audience members with a brain will as well which leaves you wondering “why am I watching the rest of this movie?” and the answer is, you want to see some turtles do karate on some bad guys. Well, sorry to disappoint again but when the turtles do show up they demonstrate themselves as superheroes, throwing foot clan members through walls as bullets bounce off their skin. I can recall maybe 5 minutes total that the Ninja Turtles actually display any signs of them being “Ninjas”.
Another oddity is the Foot Clan, in this movie they are a military force. They carry automatic weapons and shock charge devices instead of using any type of hand to hand combat, which would explain why the turtles use so little.
Master Shredder, played by Tohoru Masamune, is forgettable. Shredder comes off pretty intimidating when dawning his updated shredder armor but ultimately will be the forgettable villain of the film. Shredder’s presence seems only necessary to carry out the physical challenges that William Fichtner’s character, Eric Sacks, can’t handle. Which is a huge let down for Ninja Turtle fans as we all know Shredder is their arch enemy.
Fichtner does a great job with the part but the role itself isn’t anything of a challenge for him and it shows.
Alan Ritchson (Raphael), Noel Fisher (Michelangelo), Jeremy Howard (Donatello), and Johnny Knoxville (Leonardo) all sound quite good as the turtles. When the quartet banter off of one another it’s easily one of the high notes of the movie. Richson, Fisher, and Howard, all do very well in what will probably be considered their breakout roles as they’re relatively unknowns. Knoxville’s voice work however, struck me as a little jarring at first. I’m not sure if it’s because I was so aware that it was Johnny Knoxville’s voice or if it was j
ust me adjusting to seeing a 7 foot turtle speak but, I got used to him as the movie went on and he did a fine job.
Most notable of the voice actors is Tony Shalhoub who plays the voice of Master Splinter, the turtles father and mentor. Shalhoub isn’t featured in much of the film but he managed to make your heart go out to an old talking, martial arts wielding rat. That has to mean something good right?
Megan Fox does a fair job at playing reporter April O’neil. Fox seems to be trying her best in the role but, I can’t help but feel like the part was miscast. Will Arnett plays her sidekick “Vern” who you may remember from the old cartoon, he delivers very few laughs which is surprising. I don’t blame Arnett either, I consider him to be a funny guy, it’s the dull script that is at fault. The script is loaded with luke warm one liners that only brought a chuckle out of me when delivered by one of the turtles because of the strong voice work.
Overall Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is O.K. and no better. Surprisingly the turtles themselves looked great and brought out the few laughs to be had in the film. It was nice to feel some childhood nostalgia as the turtles skateboarded around the sewers of NYC and drooled over pizza. Some of the action sequences in the film involving the turtles were pretty great too, particularly the downhill snow scene that’s been featured in the trailers is executed very well. With these few high notes aside, TMNT has a dull story, a weak script, and some sub par acting. If you want to see what’s become of the Ninja Turtles in 2014 out of curiosity, I completely understand. But, If you were to wait to Redbox this movie or rent it online, you would be wise to do so.
(All movie scores are based on a scale ranging from 1 to 10)
Thanks for reading!