Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, a series that holds a special place in my heart, as well as the hearts of many people. Ever since the heroes and the half shells entered our homes decades ago, fans have enjoyed outrageous jokes, comical fights, and colorful creatures to face up against our noble four. So when Michael Bay announced his plans to produce a new film to modernize the Turtles, mixed reviews poured in about what was in store. The evening has dawned, and once again I’ve gone back to the hallowed halls of the movie theater to bring you a review. Was Bay’s latest project another prolonged mess, or did we get a turtle adventure worth seeing? Read on to find out.
I’m going to come out and say it, if you go in here comparing the movie to the turtles series we grew up with, then you will hate this movie. Of course this movie is not going to break the nostalgic love many hold this series with. Instead, one should go in looking for a new spin on the series, and trying to admire the adventure set forth. TMNT has brought something back to the series that was lacking for some time… action. Under Jonathan Liebesman’s direction, this installment grabs the audience by the back, or shells in some cases, and takes you for a fast paced ride. From the get go we get awesome CGI battles, where extras are flung against walls by computer created turtles, whose design was not as terrible as many make it out to be. The animation is smooth, as the four turtles smoothly perform their martial arts, wielding their weapons to defeat the very lame foot soldiers. Most of the movie is adrenaline infused, seldom stopping to explain the point of fighting as they move from one battle to another. Fast paced moviegoers like me will be bobbing in their seats with excitement, wondering what stunt the turtles will pull off next.
Yet for so much action in such a short time period the story is sacrificed. In this reboot the story has taken some interesting twists. The classic tale of the turtles origins is turned into one that brings April O’ Neil (Megan Fox) more into the story. Again, diehard purists might be screaming in outrage at the blasphemy, yet the story is not half bad despite how simple it is. Even the change in characters is not as grandiose as we expected. Vernon (Will Arnett) the egotistical cameraman has become a love struck puppy that is out to get a date with April. While not looking the part, Fox brings April’s stubbornness to life, though she is not quite the damsel in distress as back in the cartoon days. Fox does not do a bad job with acting, nothing that is award winning, but not as awful as we thought. Splinter even takes a bit of a change, a lot more aggressive than the sensei we know, with one of the best fight scenes of the movie. Yet the wise rat isn’t as key a player as you might have expected from the trailers.
As for the Turtles, their diversity and characteristics continue to withstand the tests of time, though with a little more edge to each of them. In both design and attitude, the turtles bounce a lot of the classic humor off of one another, and mix it into the flow of the movie without much disturbing to the action. Michelangelo doesn’t get to pull out as many punches as the rest of the gang, but brings his surfer bum humor into the fray to make it fun. Donatello ‘s geeky side comes out in full force, most of his participation technologically oriented to go with the inventor side. Raphael gets the most time of the turtles and brings more of the aggressive muscle; while Leo stays the same honorable leader he always is… though again doesn’t get much time on the big screen. The team works great together though, and the voice acting for each of them is well suited for the design of the turtles. The writing for the movie is very much like the show, filled with cheesy jokes and simplistic laughs though a lot less puns. Regardless, the results are it is funny and silly, though perhaps a bit too different for those looking to relive the glory days.
The new turtles movie is not the disaster that it had the potential to be. Having Bay as the producer instead of the director was a better decision for this reviewer, because it put the explosions to a minimum and the action I expected to the max. Stable camerawork and animation keeps you in line with the action, allowing you to actually keep track of what is going on. While there is indeed a major divergence in the classic story and humor, it is still a fun adventure. Again I love action movies, but I think many will find this movie a fun flick to watch. Would I bring kids? It is true that there is a PG-13 rating due to the violence and terrorism themes, but I think most will be able to handle it, just exercise some caution. Was it worth a trip to the movie? For action lovers and non-purist TMNT fans, I think it is worth a trip. As for the casual fans, I think this one can wait for home, because it doesn’t have all of the aspects that most audiences seem to enjoy. Overall my scores for this film are:
Movie overall: 6.5-7.0