TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES Movie Review – These Are Not The Turtles We Were Looking For
The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are a pop culture staple. Even though they are mostly remembered from their origins in the ‘80s and then in their popularity peak in the ‘90s, being around over 30 years is still impressive for an idea that started out as a joke between Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird.
Despite the conception of the idea being a joke, at one point in their existence, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were a very serious phenomenon. In their early years, their comic book stories were filled with extremely dark and violent tones and there were real emotions felt when reading those stories.
But as things are want to do, they become a washed up and corporate family-friendly version of themselves and after one great movie in 1990, we’ve since been treated to two subpar films and a semi-decent animated film. That’s not even including any of the animated series.
So here we are in 2014, with an inevitable remake, and an extremely evident influence from producer Michael Bay. From its inception, the idea has been panned mercilessly. Fans moaned (in a bad way) at the idea of Megan Fox being cast as April O’neil. More so once the trailer popped up and we got our first glimpse of the half-shelled heroes and the cgi characters had nostrils and lips. But how hard is it to make an origin film with modern cgi about quite possibly the most beloved pop culture icons of the last half century? Apparently really hard.
To begin with, this origin story is much different from the original, and it’s not as if the original concept for the ninja turtles was all that great either. Think of this origin like the one in The Amazing Spider-man. Despite the fact that millions of people live in New York City, someone how the 7 people at the core of the story here have all been involved in some form or fashion with each other, and the events taking place in modern day were only a matter of time apparently. Secondly, the way the turtles and Splinter (the rat) learn to be ninjas is basically saying that if you watched The Raid 20 or 30 times, you’ll be able to storm into a building all on your lonesome and take out a major criminal kingpin.
Every directing choice is suspect in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Megan Fox has no emotion behind her eyes and is completely incapable of selling any kind of emotion other than dumfounded joy. Will Arnett and William Fichtner are normally very capable of turning in great performances just aren’t putting forth an effort here and it is painfully obvious.
The reason why the turtles haven’t been mentioned is because it almost seems as if they are afterthought for a film that is treating Megan Fox like this movie is all about her, which is also one of the film’s biggest flaws. The cgi construction of the turtles is actually great. They look great, and they move fast and impressively. Unfortunately that is about the only positive about the turtles. There was terrible voice acting and horrendously written jokes that nearly made this film impossible to sit through. Even the fight scenes are rather boring because at one point, the turtles realize their shells are mostly impervious to bullet fire so they simply just turn around and just back into Foot soldiers hoping they’ll fall down.
There is a good movie that can be made about The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The first one struck a violent tone and ever since then, all we’re left with overly campy versions of the characters any 30-something loved in their childhood. The bad acting, terrible writing, and lack of effort performances made this feel like a chore rather than the exciting rekindling of an old relationship with a beloved friend from many years ago. Even though he didn’t direct this, Michael Bay is the name all over this film and it will be him who shoulders the load of having been involved with two of the worst films this summer.