Film Review – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
When details surrounding the wholly unnecessary remake of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles began to leak last year, the internet had itself one hell of a fit. Producer and all-around superior Michael Bay responded to the backlash, mostly concerning an extraterrestrial origin story, with the sort of eloquence we’ve come to expect from him: “Fans need to take a breath, and chill.” After some careful reconsideration and a presumed dabbing of his brow with hundred dollar bills, Bay backed off the whole alien thing and re-focused his energy on further destroying the Transformers franchise. Don’t worry though, Bayheads! His grubby prints are still everywhere. How else to explain a gratuitous scene of Megan Fox jumping on a trampoline within the first ten minutes of the movie? Not that anyone was complaining.
Fox stars as April O’Neil, a plucky news reporter in search of a big scoop. Tired of being assigned fluff pieces, she begins following The Foot Clan, a crime syndicate that’s taken to terrorizing New York City residents. Soon enough she witnesses vigilante justice in the form of four impossibly huge mutants kicking some Clan butt. She manages to get a picture off just as they’re fleeing, but her boss (Whoopi Goldberg for no reason whatsoever) is unimpressed. April takes to the streets again, determined to uncover the identities of the shadowy avengers and we’re (eventually) introduced to our titular turtles. There’s Raphael (Alan Ritchson), always the most broody of the bunch. His attitude appears to have rubbed off on Leonardo (Jackass star Johnny Knoxville) making the moody twosome indistinguishable aside from the color of their masks. Donatello (Jeremy Howard) is a techy because sure why not and Michelangelo (Noel Fisher) is the loveable goof-off with a quip for everything.
I’ll spare you the bulk of the plot details not so much to avoid spoilers but because attempting to make sense of it is a waste of our collective time together. All you really need to know is Shredder (Tohoru Masamune) is hellbent on destroying the planet again and poor Splinter (Tony Shalhoub), as always, is in need of a rescue. Oh, and Eric (a weirdly low-key William Fichtner) is some sort of billionaire industrialist with ties to April’s family and some shady motivations. Got it? No matter.
The major problem I have with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is how long it takes to set up a plot that no one cares about before getting to the actual stars of the show. The movie picks up the pace considerably once the action set pieces kick into gear and the effects shots, while a little hard to follow at times, are pretty stellar across the board. Director Jonathan Liebesman (Battle: Los Angeles, Wrath of the Titans) knows his way around mass destruction and doesn’t disappoint here. The turtles themselves are now completely CGI and if you can get past the nostrils, lips and silly accessories, they’re actually prett–oh, who am I kidding. They look weird as hell.
While the alien back story was dropped (and even referenced as a wink to the foamy mouthed fanboys), some liberties were taken with the origin story that are sure to send some viewers into a tizzy. Personally, I don’t care. Questioning the choices made here is a fool’s errand and could distract you from all of the delicious product placement. (Pizza Hut I expected but Michelangelo’s inexplicable love of Orange Crush hits new levels of egregiousness.)
I honestly went into this thing thinking I’d hate it and am therefore pleased to report it’s not entirely awful. HOW’S THAT FOR A POSTER BLURB