Review: “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”

Let me put on my bullet proof vest and say I never liked the “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”. I thought the cartoon was “meh” and even then I knew they were just trying to get me to buy pizza and listen to hip-hop.

So, did this new live-action movie convert me, joining me to the ranks of grown men who flocked to the theater all wearing the same TMNT t-shirt (seriously, the exact same one)? Short answer: no, no it didn’t.

Getting a new paint job in the form of CGI, the mutant turtles (Leonardo, Raphael, Donatello and Michelangelo) look more like the off-putting Lizard in “The Amazing Spider-Man” and their rat master, Splinter, looks like the hell hound in “From Dusk Till Dawn”. Who honestly thought this wouldn’t terrify millions of children?

Despite the fact the movie these guy’s names are on the marquee, it’s the forgettable humans who take up the screen time, including journalist April O’Neil (Megan Fox) who is basically an objectified excuse for sex jokes, and Sacks (William Fichtner) as the lame corporate baddie.
Their story is a messy bore as O’Neil tracks the devious Foot Clan, coming across the turtles who pummel them in the dark where no one can see them (including the audience). Then once she lets it leak to Sacks that they exist he captures them as part of a whole evil, dirty viral outbreak scheme.

Maybe it’s because we’ve become so used to seeing big stars on the screen that we can never realize when they are totally useless—especially when it comes to a movie about ninja turtles. They could’ve easily been done away with given how the turtles—with all of their yelling, leaping and very un-ninja behavior—would’ve been discovered on their own by the actual menacing villain at play, Shredder. Once the five finally go toe-to-toe in the movies only redeeming action sequence do we see something worth watching.

Too much time is spent figuring out how the turtles came to be (just look to the title), that none is spent actually delving into the turtles as characters. Sure they eat pizza have a good rapport but we don’t see them function and deal with problems as a family. They defined simply by the color of their dirty face masks and surface level traits like nerdy, leader, angry and obnoxious.
The only turtle with the slightest half-shell of personality is Michelangelo as the “funny” one. In reality he is about as funny as a dog humping someone’s leg: at first its cute, because maybe it doesn’t understand what it’s doing, but then it keeps doing it and tread sets in every time you see the horny beast.

Even when the turtle power kicks in (that’s all the punning I’m capable of here) all the action either reeks with a generic clumsiness, or is disgustingly over-produced as cars and buildings explode—the turtles mostly just going along for the ride—as if physics were as scientifically possible as, well, mutant ninja turtles.

I am not a fan of the turtles, which is why I am giving this the rating I am. Sure kids will love it, and so will adult fans that don’t know better, but let me say a good reboot should be for everyone. Honestly all they needed to make that work was more karate and pizza eating and less non-reptilian humans.

Grade: C

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