Dir: Jonathan Liebesman
Cast: Megan Fox, Will Arnett, William Fichtner, Danny Woodburn, Tohoru Masamune, Jeremy Howard, Alan Ritchson, Pete Ploszek, Noel Fisher, and Whoopi Goldberg
Synopsis: Darkness has settled over New York City as Shredder and his evil Foot Clan have an iron grip on everything from the police to the politicians. The future is grim until four unlikely outcast brothers rise from the sewers and discover their destiny as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The Turtles must work with fearless reporter April O’Neil and her cameraman Vern Fenwick to save the city and unravel Shredder’s diabolical plan
*Reviewer Note: This will be a spoiler free review*
The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have had a lot of iterations since they first appeared. From a comic book, to the 80s cartoon and movies, to the new TV shows since the 2000s. No matter how old you are chances are you know who the “heroes in a half-shell” are and what they love. So when it was announced that are favorite turtles would be getting another live-action movie people, obviously, were excited but also cautious. Then it was announced that Michael Bay would be producing and everyone went from excited and cautious to cautious and worried. Then came the “they are going to be aliens” and everyone went into a frenzy. Bay then made some damage control and it died down. Then the turtle pictures came out and boom, back to frenzy. Anyway, this version of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles had a lot of things against it and unfortunately it couldn’t get past it.
After an interesting animated beginning, narrated by Splinter (mo-capped by Woodburn and voiced by Tony Shalhoub), giving us the background of The Foot Clan, which in this version are a paramilitary organization that are running rampant in New York City, that are run by The Shredder (Masamune). We are then introduced to younger and hungry Channel 6 News Reporter April O’Neil (Fox) is looking to catch her first break, and she thinks she has found a group of vigilantes attempting to stop the Foot. Of course, she finds out that the vigilantes are four six-foot mutated turtles that happen to be ninjas…and teenagers.
Little does April know, she has a connection to the turtles that she apparently forgot about. The connection also connects with businessman Eric Sachs (Fichtner) and April’s father, which feels more like stretch than a good plot point. Sachs turns out to be evil (gasp) and is actually working with Shredder to take out New York in a plan that sort makes no sense (seeing a trend here).
But who cares about April or Sachs right? You’re watching this movie for Leonardo (mo-capped by Ploszek, voiced by Johnny Knoxville), Donatello (mo-capped Howard), Michelangelo (mo-capped by Fisher) and Raphael (mo-capped by Ritchson). Their personalities are the same; Leo is the leader, Donny is the smart and inventive one, Michelangelo is the goofball, and Raphael is the rebel. The big difference is how the turtles look. They are larger and physically imposing than previous iterations, which honestly makes them kind of lose their ninja aspect, but maybe that’s being nit-picky. They can literally lift ship containers and thrown them across the room, punch someone halfway across the room, and smash into military trucks completely destroying it.
The turtles all have their moments to show off their personalities, with Michelangelo most likely going to be the standout for many. The bond between the brothers is there which is nice to see they at least kept that in there. But when it comes to the other, and equally, important characters in Turtles history in Splinter and Shredder, they seem to fall just a bit short. Splinter is really nothing more than a glorified cameo and Shredder isn’t really the Shredder that we all know and love. Instead of a samurai, we get an upgraded suit that has multiple blades and looks like he’s eight-feet tall.
The main human characters are April and Sachs. Megan Fox being cast as April hit a chord with just about everybody and while I still don’t see her as the character she alright as the character. The always reliable William Fitchner plays Sachs, and Fitchner does the best he can with the role that he can. An added plus for fans, Shredders adopted daughter Karai shows up in a nothing role played by Minae Noji.
As seen from the promotional material, the movie looks like it has a nice blend of humor, action, and some serious moments. Well, the movie does have some serious moments and action but it lacks the humor. The movie just isn’t really that funny, even the human comic relief in Will Arnett’s cameraman character Vern only has one real funny line. The movie just feels like it’s trying to hard to be funny and some of the jokes are more targeted toward the younger generations, which is fine move for the studio since that’s probably their targeted audience at this point. But they really should remember the original audience.
However, one of the huge things that bother me is the imbalance between the tones. It felt like they couldn’t decide on one and just threw three of them in and see what stuck. The original turtles didn’t take themselves too seriously and knew what they were. These turtles though apologize for what they are, Donny even says “when you put it like that, it sounds ridiculous” when April questions what they are and how it sounds. Instead of embracing the concept, they feel a need to apologize? Yeah that, and shouldn’t, fly with anybody. The fight scenes are the worst, and not in terms of being bad fight scenes, but everything about them make it look like so brutal and then they will just go away like nothing brutal happened. Believe me I’m all for a good brutal fight scene but for a movie targeted toward kids, that was probably a bad decision.
The action is descent with standout sequence being the mountain chase that is shown in every commercial promotion, and a fight between Splinter and Shredder which brings more of the emotional weight for the movie.
All in all, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle doesn’t have a lot going on. The humor isn’t really there and it does fail to capture some of the what we originally fell in love with. Are the moments that we can see why we feel in love with them? Sure but it doesn’t take away everything else from movie.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
2.5 out of 5