Action Movie Fanatix Review: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014)

Action Movie Fanatix review banner for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Starring: Megan Fox, Will Arnett, William Fichtner, Alan Ritchson, Noel Fisher, Pete Ploszek, Johnny Knoxville, Jeremy Howard, Danny Woodburn, Tony Shaloub, Tohoru Masamune, Whoopi Goldberg, Minae Noji

Director: JonathanLiebesman

2014  |  101 Minutes  |  PG-13

“Give me the camera.” – Raphael
“Oh look, he’s doing his Batman voice.” – Michelangelo

When New York is threatened, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles emerge from the sewers to protect their home.

Leading up to the release of this movie longtime TMNT fans bemoaned Michael Bay’s involvement despite the fact that he was seemingly nothing more than a producer on the project.  Many fans also complained about various aspects of the design of the new CGI turtles.  As a kid who grew up playing with the original Playmates toys, I just hoped it would be a fun flick.

The movie opens with a cool intro / credits sequence with an art style reminiscent of the old Eastman & Laird comic books that started this whole TMNT craze.  After that, the movie bears little resemblance to the original source material in design or tone.

The design of the turtles got a lot of flak from fans.  I’m not totally against the elements of flair on each of the turtles.  It gave each of them a bit more visual personality, even if that wasn’t something that was ever needed before.  The main thing that bothered me was their size.  The turtles are just too darn big.  They shouldn’t be able to throw shipping containers around and shouldn’t be towering over every one of their foes.  It just means that future installments need to make the bad guys that much bigger.  Normal humans, no matter how much military or martial arts training, are no match for these hulking ninjas.

The Foot Clan looks nothing like the Foot Clan should.  Obviously they aren’t going to look like the dopey ninjas we got in the original cartoon but what we get here is just a dopey military unit with guns and a bunch of pouches, wearing masks that make them look a bit like the Immortals from 300.

Shredder looks like Silver Samurai from The Wolverine.  He’s not just a dude in a ninja suit with some blades on him.  He has Iron Man type armor with more blades than Super Shredder from Secret of the Ooze.  William Fichtner does make for an awesome bad guy though.  He always does.

There’s way too much focus on April O’Neil and WAY too much time spent on Vernon Fenwick.  Will Arnett is a funny dude but nobody was watching a Ninja Turtles movie for Vern.

Action is fine… sometimes good.  The mountain / snowy scene is probably the standout but, again, everything feels too polished and too perfectly CGI.  There’s little difference between a Ninja Turtle fight and a Michael Bay Transformers fight.

Early in the film, while April is complaining about not getting the big stories, Vern makes a comment about how sometimes people just want fluff/foam in their coffee.  What a great metaphor for this type of movie.  Sometimes people just want a big dumb Michael Bay action movie.  There’s no problem with wanting a little fluff in your life once in a while.  Is it perfect?  Heck no.  But it could have been so much worse.  Those of us that grew up on Ninja Turtles need to keep in mind that just because we grew up, doesn’t mean the Ninja Turtles have.  They are still meant for kids after all.


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