I stepped into the movie theater for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles with my fingers crossed. I had hope, but my fears were greater.
I wasn’t worried that my childhood would be ruined – after all, my childhood is a thing of the past. I was just genuinely concerned that this would prove to be a sub-par movie.
As you may have gathered from the title of this post: it is.
(SPOILER ALERT!) First off, you have no semblance of a plot until midway through the movie when Fichtner explains that Shredder is going to release a lethal gas over New York and he (Fichtner) is going to use the mutagen – which he’s been trying to replicate for years but can now obtain from the turtles’ blood – to save the world and become obscenely rich.
The Foot manage to capture Leo, Mikey, and Donatello (while inexplicably leaving behind the bodies of both Splinter and Raphael whose blood also contains the precious mutagen…duh) and its up to Raphael (and April and Vernon for…reasons?) to get the band back together and foil the plot.
Something Borrowed (Spoilers…Sort of?)
The most grating thing about the movie would only be evident to those who are familiar with the original trilogy of movies. And before the movie began, I took a quick inventory of the theater: 95% male (the other 5% being girlfriends that were obviously just entertaining their boyfriends), and all of them were around my age which means that yes, they knew the movies well.
An incredible amount of the footage was ripped straight from the prior movies. Like, a lot. April is rescued in a subway terminal from Foot soldiers? April feints when meeting the turtles? She’s kidnapped and taken into the sewers to hear the origin story? April is fired for pushing the story surrounding the Foot to her boss? Shredder is made aware of the turtles by a picture April is responsible for? Pizza is thrown into air and sliced by Leo with a piece landing on Splinter’s head? (PS: When is delivery pizza ever not cut?) Climactic rooftop battle that ends with Shredder falling to his supposed doom?
Yup, all of it has been done and I’m not even covering all of the bases. It just felt lazy. I get that they had to rewrite things in the wake of the alien rumors, but dang…
From the moment it was announced that Megan Fox would play April O’Neil, I was worried that her character would play a much bigger role than she should and I was right.
I asked the 7th grader I saw the movie with what he thought, and his answer was, “There was way too much April and not enough turtles. Whose story was it, anyway: Hers or theirs?” That from the mouth of the movie’s target market.
And Fox didn’t shine at all. The girl that played her roommate was more convincing in my opinion. Fichtner, too, disappointed. And he may be the worst onscreen gun-firer I’ve ever seen. But at least he wasn’t Shredder after all, so there was that. (BTW: Decepticon Shredder was over-the-top, but me and my 7th grade friend agreed that he would make for a sweet video game boss!)
Hands down the best performance of the movie: Whoopie Goldberg. Yeah, let that settle a minute…
Remember when I said that the turtles being freed up via CGI could be awesome but it could also bomb? More times than not, it was taken advantage of too much. The movie suffered from a case of what I call the “Ooooos” (ironically pronounced “ooze”). You can just picture the writers sitting around going, “Ooo! Ooo! Ooo! What about _______________?!” where the blank is occupied by something way excessive.
The comedy was extremely hit and miss, and more often than not I felt like it would have been ten times better if they had cut a joke short rather than running it into the ground. For instance, the turtles getting jammed in a pipe while descending into the sewers is funny. Mikey farting in that moment was a bit much. And speaking of Michelangelo: One joke about him being creepy towards April is funny…making him an insatiable horn dog towards her is actually creepy.
Things the movie did well: There were a couple of scenes where I think they did a great job of capturing the fact that the turtles are teenagers in a way that none of the previous incarnations had. The two outstanding instances being when they return to the sewers after the subway rescue and when they’re in an elevator heading towards the final battle. I also like the fact that the traditional setup of Raph running off and being the one that ends up needing rescuing was reversed. That was a good touch.
That said, I can’t in good conscience say the movie was good. At best, its a Netflix or Redbox watch.
They did make an obvious move to suggest a sequel, too. Let’s hope that they are able to fix a few things in the interim because I’m sure I’ll foolishly shell out (get it?!) the money to see it, too, and likely with the same hopes and fears.
I may never learn.