Director: Jonathan Liebesman
Starring: Megan Fox, Will Arnett, William Fichtner, Alan Ritchson, Noel Fisher, Pete Ploszek, Jeremy Howard, Johnny Knoxville, Danny Woodburn, Tony Shalhoub, Tohoru Masamune, Whoopi Goldberg
Those gnarly Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are back to reach a whole new audience of moviegoers. The Foot Clan is wreaking havoc across the streets of New York City. Channel 6 field reporter April O’Neil (Fox) is desperate to get to the bottom of who’s behind these masked foes. One night while in the middle of the action, she snaps photos of a group of vigilantes who are out to take down the bad guys. It should come as no surprise that no one back at the station takes her seriously when she tries to show them her evidence. She is later caught by these four mysterious creatures who turn out to be six foot turtles. She puts the pieces together and realizes these are the same turtles that she grew up playing with in her dad’s laboratory when she was a kid. They were part of a scientific experiment known as Project Renaissance, hence their names Donatello, Raphael, Michelangelo, and Leonardo. Her dad’s lab partner Eric Sacks (Fichtner) is working with the evil Shredder (Masamune) who is the leader of the Foot Clan. Shredder plans on releasing a toxin into the air and Sacks will use an antidote found into the turtles to “save” the citizens and get rich in the process. It’s up to the Ninja Turtles, April, and her cameraman Vernon Fenwick (Arnett) to defeat Shredder and Sacks before it’s too late. As you can tell, we have a super original plot here that we have never seen before. Never…Ever…Oh wait.
What we’ve got here is a reboot from the cartoons and early 1990s movies that I grew up on. The design and production values have been updated with a new vision to fit today’s moviegoers. The Turtles are beefier and it’s far more action packed than the original series. Hesitation set in quickly very early on in the development stages when it was announced that Michael Bay was producing the movie and that Megan Fox was attached to star as our devoted and hard-hitting reporter April. If you read my review of Transformers: Age of Extinction, you know my feelings towards Mr. Bay. Even though many people assume he directed this film, he is only one of the producers. The film definitely feels like a Bay movie though when it comes to all of the up close and personal action scenes. I think it has the wrong tone as well. It takes itself far too seriously most of the time as it's missing that camp factor that should come with a movie about a group of four mutant turtles trying to save the day. The Turtles and their father Splinter are no longer actors in full body costumes, but the work of motion capture technology. I’m a bit confused as to why Leonardo is voiced by Johnny Knoxville while the other Turtles have the same actor doing the voice and body work. Danny Woodburn (Seinfeld) does the motion-capture work for Splinter and has expressed disappointment in not doing the character's voice which was given to Tony Shalhoub (Monk).
It is no secret that Megan Fox (Transformers) and Michael Bay have feuded in the past, so it was a bit surprising that they patched things up enough for her to play April. I haven’t seen the original movies since I was a kid, but now I really miss Paige Turco and Judith Hoag who have previously played the character. Fox is so unbelievably miscast, it is downright eye-rolling most of the time. Right from the very beginning I could never her take her seriously as a journalist. It’s no wonder why her fellow journalists at Channel 6 don’t believe. I wouldn’t either! I am also baffled on why Oscar winner Whoopi Goldberg decided to appear as April’s boss. While Goldberg provides some much-needed laughs, her scenes with Fox are just odd. It honestly brought me back to her mid ‘90s days of appearing in such movies as Eddie and Theodore Rex. Will Arnett (Arrested Development) is completely wasted as April’s cameraman. He is not given the comedy and banter that suits him. It is quite evident that he was completely bored making the movie.
The writing is fairly weak and simple throughout most of the movie. I wish more of a specificity would have been given to each of the turtles to make each of their personalities stand out more. There is so much fun to be had with all four of them, and Michelangelo is the only Turtle that really stands out. This is especially unfortunate as it doesn’t give the actors playing them enough to work with. If you had no context of the characters, you would have a hard time differentiating them apart from another. Shredder does not seem nearly as scary as I remember him being when I was younger. He seems to be a mix of Freddy Krueger meets a Transformer with CGI knives always shooting out from his hands. Partial credit should be given for their references to classic Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles elements like: their origin, the love of pizza, ooze, and living in the sewer, plus the catch phrases “Cowabunga” and “heroes in a half shell”.
While it definitely has that Michael Bay approach to it, I would say that it is nowhere near as bad as Transformers: Age of Extinction. There is potential to be had here, but a lot of work must be done if it wants to compete with the likes of Marvel movies and how universally accepted they are. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles will definitely appeal to young kids. You can tell special attention was made to cater toward their sense of humor and attention span as the runtime is kept at under two hours. I just don’t think it will cater to a broad audience like I think it should.
Is It Worth Your Trip to the Movies? I’d rather go back and watch the original series that I grew up on.
RATING: 2.5 out of 5 TICKET STUBS