Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles photo starrating-1andahalfstars.jpgTeenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is a really ugly film. Part one of the original trilogy, also with the same exact title, was released back in 1990 and it confounded expectations to be quite good. Its massive popularity ($260.6 million in 2014 dollars) generated two sequels, each of dwindling quality. A computer animated entry entitled TMNT in 2007 built on the success of the 2003–2009 TV series. Now we’re given a new interpretation on the first motion picture and it’s a sloppy, bewildering mess. The scattershot construction would be bad on its own terms, but when compared to previous incarnations, it achieves a new low.

The history of an established franchise is severely corrupted . The mythology of our beloved foursome is devalued in favor of a tale largely focused on Megan Fox’s character. Reporter April O’Neil is trying to get information about a villainous organization called the Foot Clan that is terrorizing New York City. Side note: A fun drinking game might be to take a drink every time there is a close-up shot of her posterior. At one point, the director actually has her bouncing on a trampoline. I’m not kidding. Fox is not believable as the ambitious go-getting journalist she is supposed to be here but it’s too easy to pick on her so let’s simply move on. The Foot Clan is led by Shredder who looks like a samurai Transformer in a suit of armor with Ginsu knives for hands. He’s ridiculous. Yet he is relegated to secondary villain status in deference to the ubiquity of evil industry mogul Eric Sacks (William Fichtner), a villain as generic as they come. At various junctures his malevolent plan is thwarted by 4 shadowy vigilantes. April sees this and reports her findings to her boss (Whoopi Goldberg). Naturally neither she nor anyone else believes her. Just who are these 4 masked defenders? What follows is a lot of indecipherable nonsense.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles manages to be a really ugly piece of entertainment in a myriad of ways. Dreary events are connected by loud lumbering disorganized mayhem punctuated by lots of noise, all strung together. The action set-pieces are so stridently generic that I couldn’t even describe them immediately after this headache was over. The dimly lit “excitement” is so cluttered, your eyes will glaze over from the miasma of the chaos. A large part of the story has nothing to do with ninja turtles, but rather a bunch of human beings that wouldn’t have enough presence to activate an automatic door, let alone occupy the focus of a movie. And the turtles themselves look disgusting, like gooey roided-up hulks impregnated with reptilian features. We never get to know the characters. The four of them were completely interchangeable as far as I was concerned. I couldn’t differentiate their violent militarized personalities apart. They do wear different colored masks at least. I think one wore glasses. Perhaps even more grotesque is Splinter, their rescued lab rat mentor who learned Ninjutsu from a book he found. He sports rat facial hair and the Asian garb out of an old martial arts flick. He’s voiced by Tony Shalhoub (!). The atmosphere is extremely depressing. The only time some 90s magic is shown is when the turtles start beatboxing in an elevator. It’s at that moment the production starts to feel a little fun, but the second that’s over, the feature reverts back to being a dour desecration of the lighthearted source material. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles had me shell-shocked.

08-07-14

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21 Responses to “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”

  1. Twelve bucks saved.

  2. I’m so glad I’m not wasting my money on this. Not out in the UK until October but I’ll be happily watching something else.

  3. Thanks for the heads up. The first red flag for me was the design for the turtles and Shredder. They looked more like hoodlums than mutants. 😀

  4. I watched it last weekend and totally agree with you. It’s even worse than Transformer 4. Lots of bullshit quotes. Ugly design. The relationship of our vigilantes was nothing. I think that I wouldn’t feel sorry for them or for NY if they failed at saving the city.

  5. I hate myself for seeing this movie. Well, mostly. It wasn’t completely bad, but was still pretty friggin’ bad. Thankfully I only paid matinee price.

    • I paid full price which is $13 in SF(!). We avoided the 3D showing though so we actually saved money with that ridiculous price.

      We recorded a podcast right after we saw the movie. Like literally in the theater after we walked out of the screening room. It should be public by Wed.

  6. Well I can’t say that I know, but I have a feeling I’ll be agreeing with you very soon here. Seeing it tomorrow after much debate. The only later showings around here are purely in the 3D format, and Im NOT doing that! Sounds like this is enough of a headache in just regular format.

    • Five things to take note of while watching the film:

      1.) The creative design of the new turtles
      2.) The individual personalities of the four turtles.
      3.) The way the character of Splinter, a man sized rat from Japan, is portrayed.
      4.) April O’Neal is the most prominent female character, but is she a strong female character?
      5.) Who the REAL villain is. You‘d think it would be Shredder, but is it?

  7. Good write-up.
    This abomination of a movie represents my avoidance of writing straight film reviews.
    You might like to take a look at this:
    http://bradscribe.wordpress.com/2014/08/22/the-expandables/
    Cheers!

    • Interesting article about sequels. Ironic that Frank Miller’s Sin City: A Dame to Kill For is a complete bomb this week.

      Sequels are not always a safety net apparently.

      • 2 reasons why I knew Sin City 2 would bomb:
        I). too long since the 1st Sin City; &
        II). no demand for this sequel.
        Stick w Marvel Studios – they KNOW what they’re doing.
        Thanks, Mark, for Liking my Post!

  8. Snore. Small kids may like it, but this was pretty bad. I agree with Mark. I couldn’t tell who was who either. 2 stars.

  9. “Now we’re given a new interpretation on the first motion picture and it’s a sloppy, bewildering mess. The scattershot construction would be bad on its own terms, but when compared to previous incarnations, it achieves a new low.” – Talk about hitting the nail on the head. Just awful all-around and an insult to the franchise itself. I liked when it decided to go more lighthearted and cartoony. The elevator scene was my favorite moment as well. The rest was terrible.

  10. Shell-shocked. Man, if I ever get around to reviewing this, I hope I can come with a pun as good as that.

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