When a kingpin threatens New York City, a group of mutated turtle warriors must emerge from the shadows to protect their home.When a kingpin threatens New York City, a group of mutated turtle warriors must emerge from the shadows to protect their home.When a kingpin threatens New York City, a group of mutated turtle warriors must emerge from the shadows to protect their home.
The movie has no real sense of identity, like the filmmakers really had no idea what to do with it. Where are the Turtles going to go? What are they going to do when they get there? Is it going to be spring time or winter? Should it be in the city or in the mountains? Low to the ground in dark settings or high up on roof tops in broad daylight? Are the Turtles stealthy ninjas or mini-Hulks that just needlessly destroy stuff? And are they main characters or secondary plot pieces? Is April O'Neil tech savvy, or does she still conduct interviews with pen and paper? (Through the first half-hour, perhaps even by the end of the film, you'll have a tough time convincing yourself the title shouldn't have been "April O'Neil: The Movie.")
It's very evident that the writers did not know how to work with "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles." Again, this has nothing to do with a faithfulness to any kind of version of TMNT. Just, really, they had no clue how to make those four elements work. They're not so much teenagers as they are just dumb. The movie lets the Turtles aspect be self-implied. The Mutants part as well, though it does play loosely into the plot (heh, just kidding, there is no plot). The idea of ninjutsu, though, is a complete afterthought. Seriously, it's just sandwiched in there somewhere and plays no relevance to the story whatsoever, nor has an identifying presence for any character, even Splinter or Shredder.
Yeah, Shredder. That's a whole other useless incorporation. The guy is somewhere between a clunky Power Ranger villain (the ones in great big suits that don't move very well) and Bane from "Batman and Robin." He doesn't even fill the main villain role. That "honor" would go to William Fichtner's character, Eric sounds-like-sex Sacks. Shredder's just a tool. His appearance, fighting-style, and overall awkwardness are all loud, awful reminders of how the filmmakers knew nothing about ninjutsu or how to use it. "You know what? Just make 'em fight with ninja weapons, put lots and lots of blades around, and be sure the word 'Japan' gets into someone's origin story somewhere. Close enough."
Yes, the Turtles are kind of funny, but it's completely incidental. There were times when the movie tried to force something humorous, but in the theater I was in, no one laughed. And I was in a packed house. Their personalities are nothing but typecasting: Leo is the serious control-freak, Raphael the brooding B.A., Michelangelo is a goof-ball, and Donatello is the inventive... nerd! Yeah, nerds are inventive, right? Let's make him a snorting, glasses-wearing dork! You know what, just make him Simon from Alvin and the Chipmunks. You never feel like you get to be a part of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. They're just kind of there. The viewer is more watching from April or Vern's vantage point, never fully involved in the brotherhood.
There's a whole lot more stupid that goes on for the sake of convenience: like Donatello's bo able to flip over an SUV, or the fact that an iron construction beam can't support the weight of Leo and Donnie, but Raph who comes to their rescue can (what, are they as heavy as semi-trucks?). Watch out for the abundance of product-placement. This is a Michael Bay produced film, remember. At one point, Splinter pretty much monologues a Pizza Hut ad.
In closing, I want to leave you with this, because until we get this, these horrible, ridiculous movies will continue to get made. In an interview with an MTV whoever, TMNT producer Michael Bay said that he doesn't care if people think his movies are bad. Speaking specifically about the latest Transformers installation, "They love to hate, and I don't care. Let them hate. They're still going to see the movie!"
This movie is a poo-pile of a film. I'm intentionally avoiding the usual puns like "it was a shell-acking" or "I left the theater shell-shocked" because, again, my affinity for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has nothing to do with how bad this movie is. As long as we keep paying to see what we know is going to be a bad movie, they'll keep getting made. And it doesn't matter that they're bad, because we'll pay for it no matter how bad it is.
Or maybe these movies keep getting manufactured because there is actually a niche of people who like them. After all, it has a rating of 6 out of 10 stars...
- Aug 10, 2014