Your Friendly Neighborhood Movie Blog
In a world where fanboys from the 80’s are too caught up on what has been and what never again will be, comes a movie so true to its source material that, unless you’ve actually seen the movie, should leave you with no reason to be complaining. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is a moderately refreshing and nostalgic reboot that runs at an impressive pace without getting too full of itself. This is a completely character-driven tale that reminisces several versions of the franchise’s past; and despite a flimsy plot and mediocre script, the modern visuals and gritty realism make for a pretty entertaining time at the movies.
In New York City, a modern terrorist organization called the Foot Clan is wreaking havoc across the city; committing crimes and taking hostages on a daily basis. Meanwhile, news reporter April O’Neil (Megan Fox) is always tired of being assigned to cover uninteresting stories, and decides to investigate a Foot meeting a bit closer than she is allowed to. While on the scene she discovers four shadowy figures fighting off the Foot clan, who she deems vigilantes. While nobody else believes her, she decides to look even further, and soon comes in contact with them, realizing that they are four mutant, talking turtles named Leonardo, Raphael, Michelangelo and Donatello; four brothers who had been trained in martial arts their entire lives by their father, Splinter.
O’Neil figures out that a man named Eric Sacks (William Fitchner) who used to work with her father, is working with the Foot clan, and is planning to release a toxin over the entire city that will wipe out most of the population. She warns the Turtles, who are soon ambushed by the Foot and their evil leader the Shredder. Taken hostage and with the city on the brink of destruction, the Turtles band together as brothers, discovering their true strengths in order to help defend their home.
Director Jonathan Liebesman offers up just about as ideal of a modern reboot of an 80’s franchise as you’re gonna get. He stays true to the characters for the most part, only inflicting minor changes here and there that will go unnoticed to the general audience. His portrayal of the overall story is if anything a solid remake of the 1990 live-action film, mixed with traits of Eastman & Laird’s gritty original black & white comic strip. Liebesman realizes the task at hand, and never gets too serious about it, providing four lovable protagonists, a solid villain and respectable supporting characters. But at the same time he doesn’t take nearly as many half-witted liberties as the film’s producer Michael Bay has done with the comparable Transformers films. You can tell where Bay’s influence on the movies lays (product placement peppered throughout), though it never reaches an extent of becoming unbearable.
Solid mo-cap work is used to create Raphael, Leonardo, Donatello & Michelangelo, as well as Splinter. Each Turtle is tainted with personality, and it sticks with you throughout the movie. Michelangelo makes the movie as far as comedy goes, and often jokes about pizza and his attraction for Fox’s O’Neil. The visual style of the Turtles looks a bit more menacing than in recent portrayals, though such a realistic vibe is almost implied when you’re faced with live-action. The backstory provided for the Turtles and Splinter, without giving any spoilers away, is actually pretty interesting and makes April O’Neil a lot more involved with the overall story than she would’ve been as just another news anchor. Supporting characters like Will Arnett’s Vernon Fenwick and William Fitchner’s Eric Sacks are easily disposable, but manage to bring out the best of what they were given nonetheless. Also, Whoopi Goldberg is thrown in there….but yeah.
Bottom Line: Sure, the story may not be the most original, well-crafted piece of material (it frequently resembles closely to Marc Webb’s The Amazing Spider-Man), but what Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles provides is solid entertainment with a respectable runtime (a little over half of the length of Transformers 4). Completely character-driven and led by four personified Turtle creatures who will leave you chuckling, TMNT is not nearly the abomination critics and ignorant fans have been labeling it to be. Oddly enough, this movie will leaving you wanting to see a sequel.
Rating: 3 out of 5 Turtle adrenaline shots
– Josh Sazin, 8/9/14
(Photos from IMDB.com)