Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014)

Director: Jonathan Liebesman

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

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“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.” From IMDB, Written by Paramount Pictures

The wait is over, the new version of the turtles is here.  I’ve been incredibly skeptical about this film, and though I was pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t a total disaster, at the same time it was, sad to say, less than impressive.

Visually this film is pretty well done.  I saw this one in 3-D (which I would recommend), and I’m starting to get the feeling that Hollywood is figuring out how to do 3-D films right.  The comic book-esque sequences were great, and I think the 3-D really helped it.  The turtles themselves came out pretty good.  The advances in digital effects in the last 20 years definitely made the turtles appearance more far ahead of where it’s been.

They could do without the lens flares though, there were a few too many of them for me.

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Splinter, on the other hand, was a compete disaster, visually speaking.  He was creepy, and this is something the director and special effects folks should have spent more time perfecting.  I thought Tony Shalhoub did decent with Splinter’s voice.  There was just enough of his touch to tell it was him.  In contrast, I don’t think Johnny Knoxville added much to Leonardo’s character.

The writers did a decent job of distinguishing each turtles with their own personality traits.  Michelangelo was funny, though I think they could have spread the jokes around with the other turtles more.  Some of Mikey’s one liners seemed a little out-of-place.  They nailed it with Leonardo and Raphael as far as personality and the sort.  Donatello was ok, but I just think the last few incarnations of the franchise have made him too much of the geek tech guy.

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“I’m not frothy.”

The biggest disappointment for me is, no surprise, Megan Fox as April O’Neil.  She has an exchange with Will Arnett’s Vernon Fenwick within the first five minutes that pretty much sums up her role in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  Her acting is boring most of the time, and in this film she is almost more important than the turtles themselves.  Her character drives the story forward, and though it’s good to see her as an essential part of the story, I think they made her too central to the story.

Also, she has a unique connection with the turtles that I thought wasn’t necessary.

William Fichtner left a lot to be desired as a villain.  His role in this film sets him up for future films in what could turn into another Turtles franchise.

The critics consensus from Rotten Tomatoes is: “Neither entertaining enough to recommend nor remarkably awful, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles may bear the distinction of being the dullest movie ever made about talking bipedal reptiles.”  Though I found myself enjoying this movie for the most part, there was the lingering thought that the movie was just kind of boring.  It’s not that it’s necessarily bad, because it wasn’t, but there just wasn’t enough there to make the movie pop and make me think, “Wow, that was great I have to see it again.”

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was entertaining to a degree.  It has some balance with the humor being suited for both kids and adults, and I’d say it’s a small improvement over the previous two Turtles movies(not that it would take much).  It wasn’t a complete disaster, however, it didn’t really pop at the same time.  The movie will make millions and likely lead to a sequel.  My hope is that the writers, producers, and directors will make a more engaging story for the audience.

My Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

3-D Matinee this one!

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