Director: Jonathan Liebesman
Starring: Megan Fox, Will Arnett, Johnny Knoxville, William Fichtner, Whoopi Goldberg, Tony Shalhoub, Abby Elliott
Rated: PG-13 (sci-fi action violence)
When a kingpin threatens New York City, a group of mutated turtle warriors must emerge from the shadows to protect their home.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
By Cole Schneider
There is a scene in “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” where the four turtles are in an elevator and one-by-one they begin to dance. It’s a great scene, like something from box office rival “Guardians of the Galaxy”. The rest of the movie is trades that fun in for a uniquely high-budget brand of stale. It could have been worse I suppose, but what we have is a series of chaotic action sequences intermittently cut by bad jokes.
The story’s protagonist is actually journalist April O’Neil (Megan Fox) who stumbles upon the vigilante turtles in her investigative work. Eventually, she is brought to their lair where evil Shredder and his Foot Clan minions begin to terrorize them in their quest to terrorize New York City in their quest to get rich. The narrative has the same beats we’ve come to expect from Blockbuster X, with each scene leading directly into the next in a dramatically boring manner with characters having to sacrifice sensibility in order to advance plot. (How many times is Shredder going to not kill April?)
The real problem with the movie is its characters. The nine primary characters have all been reduced to a single adjective that describes exactly who they are. There is evil Shredder, good Splinter, smart Donatello, leader Leonardo, fun Michelangelo, rebellious Raphael, greedy Eric Sacks, and boring Vernon Fenwick. Then there is April who is possibly more dynamic in that she is curious, kind, and hard-working. However, she is these things in spades to the point that she is still just a singular archetype. It’s a thoroughly lazy film.
Rating: 1 out of 5 stars
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
By Matt Greene
In the latest TMNT, where story and drama falter, action and humor shine. We’re given a ridiculous world with ridiculous characters doing ridiculous things…and the movie knows and owns this. It’s calling out the over-serious superhero movie by recognizing its own silly place. So if you are sick of the dark-side of comic book films (ahem…Man of Steel) and love the corn of the 90s Ninja Turtles, you shouldn’t be disappointed.
TMNT focuses on April (Fox), an over-zealous and endearingly looney reporter who encounters Leo, Raph, Donnie, and Mikey as they fight off the growing Foot Clan. She tries to spread this news, but of course what would a movie be without the trope “nobody believes me”? This all leads to origin stories that are a pretty intense departure from the original back story, and are problematically coincidental. However, there are plenty of great hand-to-hand combat scenes and wonderfully cheesy pun-filled humor we’ve come to expect from the adolescent amphibians.
Everyone (especially critics) needs to calm down…Of course TMNT is stupid (did you read the title?!), but it’s mindlessly fun. Fine, so the message is hackneyed. Okay, so the camera work and effects are bad. Yeah, the villain motivations are incredibly weak. And sure, the turtles look weird. However, the characters, humor and the action, the things that matter for the turtles-in-a-half-shell, are spot on, harkening back to the original trilogy and skating it into modern techniques. So while TMNT isn’t especially fresh or sustainable, it’ll do; even frozen pizza can sometimes get the job done.
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars