Reel Freak

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Review – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

3-stars-out-of-5

– Josh Sazin, 8/9/14

(Photos from IMDB.com)

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5 comments on “Review – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014)

  1. MovieManJackson
    August 10, 2014

    Sounds like it is worth a rent, or maybe even a $5 matinee! Nice review.

    • Josh the Reel Freak
      August 10, 2014

      Thanks for the read, would definitely recommend if you’re looking for solid entertainment.

  2. Flashback/Backslide
    August 10, 2014

    I can’t help but resist this movie after the most recent reboot, along with my love of the 1990’s movies and annoyance with Michael Bay. But your point that this movie is character driven gives me some hope. Great review!

    After commenting here and on your post about the new Batman movie, I’m now realizing just how resistant to change and reboots I actually am. I didn’t realize I was so attached to the past, which can’t be a good thing when looking forward to future movies. I need to find a twelve step program to kick this habit.

    • Josh the Reel Freak
      August 10, 2014

      Haha, you would not be the first person to resist these live-action remakes. A lot of people seem to have hostility towards guys like Michael Bay for “ruining their childhood”, when all in all its simply delivering something fun from one generation to the next.

      I guess because I’m a 90’s kid and missed out on these franchises I can’t hold much of a grudge against guys like Bay. Sure, I know his movies have several faults, but they’re still moderately entertaining.

      I hope you decide to give this one a try, and hopefully you enjoy it! Thanks for the read.

  3. Pingback: Flashforward: September’s Most Anticipated Films | Flashback/Backslide

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