Review: TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES (2014) ✍
I just came from a preview screening of the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. (In Australia we got our release a month after the rest of the world.)
Anyway, I felt compelled to rant about it this movie as soon as I got home.
There are some VERY minor spoilers below. I have not mentioned what I think is supposed to be the film’s major twist.
Look, I’m a self-professed geek and a massive cartoon fan boy. So as you can imagine, I went into the screening of the movie already very critical of the promo that I had seen. That said, I did try to go in with an open mind, well, with a mind as open as it was going to get, for the treatment of one of my childhood loves.
I cannot even imagine what it would be like to reimagine a comic book classic and cartoon and please die hard fans and newcomers alike, but this was rather empty on so many levels.
To me, the film wasn’t remarkable. It also wasn’t remarkably awful. I can say that I was entertained at times throughout – I was amused at times that I’m sure I wasn’t supposed to be amused, often at the score and random sound effects.
The film left me sad and longing for something. That something being my childhood. It made me long for my childhood in a sad way, not in the evoking and passionate way that the X Men movies do. Some might say to compare to TMNT to Marvel movies is an unfair comparison, but, I grew up with both in my childhood and the two were on the same level and the two are multi million dollar remounts.
Marvel characters have multiple and insanely complex storylines and origin stories. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have only a few in comparison, so, when recreating franchises (for well known & well loved pop culture “classics”) is the new game, I feel the new TMNT movie was a very weak attempt.
People new to the TMNT will probably wonder what all of the fuss is about with all of the critics ripping it apart. I mean, aside from the poor script and obvious plot holes that you actually notice in real time, not when you’re driving home.
This reimagining of the franchise, complete with a new origin story, has been made for a new generation. I just wonder if this new generation will live and love this movie, the way that I loved the TMNT growing up? Because you don’t really get time to get to know the characters and their origin stories seem so poorly linked that they simply come down to a series of coincidences, leaving very little space for development.
I’m going throw down some observations in point form now, because I don’t want to write an essay about this, but, somehow felt compelled to rant. I’ll kick off with April O’Neil because, it seems this movie is mostly about her. In fact, it should have been called ‘April and her Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’.
★ APRIL O’NEIL★
- April, is once again (like in previous adaptions of TMNT) a reporter. Sadly, she is not the fierce and famous crime reporter as in prior versions, but is shown as just a hard done by reporter hired for her looks to report of the fluffy things in life, but who longs for more because she went to university - She pretty much actually says this.
- April gets a combination of comic and cartoon origin stories mushed up, but it not a strong story. The big twist with her connection to the turtles is weak and actually made me laugh out loud.
- There is a lot of April in this movie. The movie is about her, right?
April getting hit on, April breathing heavily, April riding a bike, April taking a photo, April acting crazy, April fighting to be seen, April relying on a guy to drive her around. “April’s come early”. Just too much April.
- There was so much April time that you really got a chance to sit and study Megan Fox’s new face, her interesting mannequin-esque skin and her pretty, striking eyes.
★ THE TURTLES ★
- Pretty sure they were what the TMNT would look like in a nightmare. They were like a cross between turtles and the Hulk, with terrifying noses.
Image originally appreared on reddit
- I did feel the turtle’s characters were endearing, at least. The movie captured their personalities the way I hoped it would. However, I felt like I didn’t get any time with them. Not even close to enough. It’s pretty much the April O’Neil show. You barely see the turtles, but you get a lot of Megan Fox.
- There were some nice bursts of nostalgia throughout. Again, this only happens when the turtles actually get screen time and scenes together.
★ SPLINTER ★
- Splinter is no more than a lab rat in this version. He has no connection to Japan, YET, he is dressed and styled in stereotypical Japanese attire, complete with catfish style moustache and topknot hair. シWHY?
- In this version, he learns Ninjutsu from a book that he finds in the sewer. He reads the book, perfects the martial art from reading said book and then transfers these skills to the turtles. シSURE
- He also gifts them with Japanese weapons that, I guess, were also lying around in the sewers. シYEP
- Splinter has no connection to Shredder in this version. This has been the core storyline in every versions of TMNT history. This REALLY irked me. However, if there ever was to be a sequel to this movie, I can think of some ways that they can easily fix this ever important detail.
★ SHREDDER ★
- At first look, I thought Shredder (in his battle gear) was a Transformer. Although, he kind of was. He was like a cross between a Swiss army knife, a robot and Wolverine… if Wolverine could shoot his claws like guns… guns that returned like boomerangs. シ
- As mentioned above with Splinter, Shredder didn’t share an origin story with Splinter at all, yet, Splinter was magically all too familiar with Shredder’s existence and the fact that he was evil.
- It almost seemed like Shredder was just a puppet for someone else (His student Sacks) and not the evil mastermind and mortal enemy of Splinter and the Turtles. It was as if Sacks was supposed to play Shredder in the movie, but they made a last minute change and called in another actor to play a superfluous character.
★ WILL ARNETT ★
- I don’t even know or remember his character name.
- For the record, I find Will Arnett really funny.
- Will Arnett was not funny in this movie.
- I’m not even sure why he was in this movie.
- He basically played a driver who hits on the movie’s central character, April O’Neil (Have I mentioned that the movie is about April yet?) over and over and over again.
★ WHOOPI GOLDBERG ★
- Why were you in the movie?
- Again, I don’t even know or remember a character name.
- Nice cameo.
- Cheap wig.
★ NEW YORK CITY ★
- Now I know this may come across as a petty gripe, but NYC should be a character of a TMNT movie. It was not.
- Like Gotham city is to Batman, New York is (or was) to the Turtles.
- There were random shots of the city, but it was lacking its personality, you know, like in every adaption of Spiderman you have a sense of place and you know where are in the movie. They honestly could have been anywhere.
★ TURTLES IN A HALF SHELL, TURTLE POWER ★
- The most charming scene in the movie was, unsurprisingly, released as a promotional clip before the movie was released. See below ☟
- ☝ This is where I found the film at it’s strongest, with the beloved characters just being themselves. Some more turtle time would have been great. It was as if Megan Fox had a clause in her contract that she could not be absent on screen for more than 5 minutes.
★ COWABUNGA ★
- Why was it only used so apologetically?
- If they had just said it without acknowledging it, it would have been a much better use the word.
- Bangarang and Cowabunga to be used in popular vernacular again, please.
Okay, I’m starting to get all over the shop. There is so much more that I could write, but, it’s 4am and I am going to attempt to go bed.
▶ ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ hits Australian cinemas this Thursday, September 11, 2014.
✍ Flip Simmons ✍