Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Review

Genre – Comic Book, Sci-Fi/Action

Director – Jonathan Liebesman (Battle Los Angeles)

Cast – Megan Fox, Will Arnett, William Fichtner, Johnny Knoxville, Tony Shalhoub, Jeremy Howard, Alan Ritchson, Noel Fisher, and Whoopi Goldberg

Alluring element – Um, it’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles?

Scorecard:
Plot – 6
Acting – 7
Representation of Genre – 7
Cinematography – 8
Effects/Environment –8
Captivity – 8
Logical consistency – 6
Originality/Creativity – 7 
Soundtrack/Music – 7
Overall awesomeness – 7 
 
 
 hush_rating_71

I need to put a few things out there before I begin my review. My second word was “Leonardo.” I had a yellow jumpsuit and a Polaroid camera that I wore almost everyday when I was 3 to the time I was 5. When I was 3, I got my hair cut like April O’Neil (specifically The Animated Series version). I wore out my Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 1990 VHS. Twice. I often wished I could find a lantern at a garage sale that would transport me back in time and, that I too, could meet a little boy named Yoshi. And at some point, all four Turtles have been my favorite Turtle. Why am I telling you this? I am in no means trying to be a braggart, but I am letting you know one thing: I am very biased when it comes to my beloved Ninja Turtles.

tmntimage028

The Good

Why not start with the good parts of the movie? What you may read or have read on Rotten Tomatoes or MetaCritic may mar every aspect of the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film, but I am here to tell you, there are some good parts. In fact, I wouldn’t say the film was necessarily bad, as you can judge from the grade I gave it, but it wasn’t great either.

The mesmerizing parts of Ninja Turtles were the fight scenes. Let’s face it, when we see a film with Michael Bay’s name attached to it, we don’t exactly go for the plot. However, the action sequences are awesome. They are fast-paced, and all the martial arts tricks are gripping to watch. There were many scenes where the Turtles are bounding around and I thought it was beautiful. In one particular scene, they jump from a building and a full moon is in the upshot of the camera angle. It seemed very much like a scene out of the comics. Added to the visuals, the look of each Turtle wasn’t bad. Many fans seemed angry about their look, saying they looked scary. Their facial features were different from each other and they were huge. Notably, Mikey was smaller than his brothers, which seemed like a good touch. All animals have different features from each other, and so do the Turtles. I really liked the animation of the Turtles, personally. I also liked all their accessories, from Michelangelo’s sea-shell necklace, to Donnie’s science gear, to Raph’s full head bandana, to Leonardo’s NYC pin. I also liked the Pimp My Ride style Party Wagon. The best part of all of the animation was the beginning credits. The motion-comic style animation, based off the original artwork of the comics, with the splashes of color was really captivating. I truly feel that if someone wanted to pick that up, it could be a highly lucrative straight-to-DVD venture for Nickelodeon, similar to what DC Comics does.

Michaelangelo
Mikey and his distinct Turtle look.

In case you were wondering, the story is changed. I won’t give you spoilers, but there was one story that I was not disappointed with, and that was April O’Neil’s. Given the other changes in the story, I felt that April’s made the most sense for why she feels such a connection with the Turtles. Because this is a Ninja Turtles origin story, you have to expect there is a Subway scene. Personally, I thought this scene was one of the best of the film. There was enough of a change that I didn’t feel like I was watching the same thing I’ve seen before, but it was still reminiscent of the original story.

April O'Neil
Megan Fox as April O’Neil.

There were plenty of funny scenes, most of which involved either Vernon Fenwick (Will Arnett), who is April’s cameraman, or Donatello. Both characters had plenty of good lines and were a-dork-able. Enough so I that I walked away feeling like this was the first film that gave Donatello more play than normal, but I would like to have seen more. Even so, Raphael was able to sneak in one piece of comedy in a heartfelt speech, which is one of the most memorable moments. Other moments that made me think, “Hey, that’s cool!” were seeing Donnie’s computer lab which was quite impressive, an intense scene where Leonardo improvises by using his Katanas as ski poles, and once we are in the Turtles lair, a sign can be seen in the background that reads “POWER.” However, the best scene in the film is when all four Turtles are in an elevator awaiting epic battle and they start a hip-hop beat. I was smiling the entire time this scene went on because I felt like those were my Turtles and they would so obviously break out a beat before fighting a foe.

Donnies Lab
Donnie’s impressive computer lab.

The Bad

I’ll be honest; there are a lot of things I could nit-pick at because the logical consistencies of many aspects are…illogical. For instance, in a moment of being airborne through the city, because that always happens, April O’Neil (Megan Fox) catches herself with one arm on a steel beam. One arm! I am a female, and I can attest that the average female CANNOT do that. While I’m on the topic, I want to say that Megan Fox doesn’t do a horrible job in the role, but she still is no April. Another inconsistency was that Splinter learned the art of Ninjutsu from a book he found in the sewer. I only wish I could pick up things I read about so quickly. He then passed on the knowledge to his sons. The Foot Clan were not overly scary except for their quick draw on some machine guns. But they didn’t really use their resources to their advantage of being thugs. Also, Karai, their leader, wasn’t well explored. Her role in other TMNT franchises is more significant.

tmntimage030
Master Splinter teaches his young sons Ninjutsu.

My list of annoyingly bad things includes voices. Namely, Megan Fox’s shrill scream that made me jump in my seat, and Tony Shalhoub’s voice does not translate to a Japanese Sensei sewer rat. The over advertising of Pizza Hut was also annoying, but expected in a movie that Michael Bay produced. Shredder was annoying because he looked ridiculous. I’m going to give you an assignment. Go to your utility drawer, pull out your Swiss Knife, pull out all the pieces of it, and slash wildly at the air. Did you feel badass, or just goofy? That’s what I thought. Mikey’s character was more of a characterization of himself; he was over done as the “stoner”. I love Mikey, I really do. And I did thoroughly enjoy him in this incarnation, but it would have been nice if he did as much martial arts as he did talking. And as much as I love Raphael, there was a great deal of him, and not enough of why he is so angry or why he isn’t the leader. We have seen the story of Raph saving his brothers; this film attempted to re-tell the story, and it failed.

Look at my hands!
Look at my hands!

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ writers didn’t take into account the intelligence of the public, either. Sure, the average American may not be very sharp (other people’s quotes, not mine), but we don’t need to be force-fed either. There was so much about this film that was told and not shown: Splinter’s relationship with the Turtles, the Turtles rivalry with the Shredder, the Foot Clan being bad, Eric Sacks being a bad guy, and the list goes on. Even a child who loved this film, could look back in 20 years and say, “Nope, I got this all the first time” because even children can understand intangible things if they are portrayed properly. That intangible “thing” was the idea of family. It was a concept referred to several times in the movie, but I never really felt that Splinter and the Turtles were ALL a family. There really was no connection to Splinter, which felt odd and wrong.

Leo looks on wondering why the movie didn't make more of the family.
Leo looks on wondering why the movie didn’t make more of the family.

The worst part of “The Bad” is the overall grand plan by the main villain, Eric Sacks. Yeah the Shredder has those hands, but he wasn’t really the nemesis, which I’m not sure was on purpose. Anyhow, (SPOILERS AHEAD!) Eric Sacks is an evil scientist who plans to take out New York City and then cure it with the same mutagen that made the turtles into Turtles and make lots-o-money. But for so many reasons this is a bad plan! Why is money a bad plan? Oh, because if he takes out all of NYC, won’t he, the Shredder, and the Foot Clan all be dead, too? Also, the dude is already loaded. He has a frickin’ gated mansion. His grand plan is all because he doesn’t have enough money? He doesn’t want, say the other thing all evil genius’ want, power? Nope. Just more money. I find major fault that this was never questioned by anyone.

Donatello
Donnie is screaming because Eric Sacks was a terrible villain.

The Ugly

Beyond all my complaints listed above, there is the ugly. There were parts of this movie that made me cringe. Shredder’s backstory and relationship to the Turtles was not explained AT ALL. Like not even a little bit. There is no reason for them to despise each other. None. Oh, and for the first 15 minutes of the movie, there are no Turtles. Nowhere in sight. Now I know they are ninjas, but it wasn’t because they are sneaky, it’s because the writers didn’t do a good job at writing. I did not intend to go see a movie about April O’Neil, and God knows I love her. Except that Megan Fox isn’t a good actress. She’s just not. This movie should have been entitled April O’Neil and her Pets. If you had known the entire story revolved around her, would you have gone? Well, I still might have, but at least I wouldn’t have felt lied to. But my biggest gripe is that there was not a story for Leonardo. Leonardo. LEONARDO! He is the leader of the group! He should have led! And I’m not mad at him, because he is just an innocent Turtle, I am mad at the writers. It came off as if Raph was the leader, but that is not the case. How could they cut someone’s story so much? They cut Splinter’s story, they cut Shredder’s story, but to cut one of the actual Ninja Turtles’ stories makes me want to raise my hands and say “Damn. Damn! DAMN!”

It's ok Raph, we sympathize with your anger.
It’s ok Raph, we sympathize with your anger.

I have tried to be careful of comparing the 2014 film to the 1990 film because I know I am biased. I could write a book on why the 1990 film is better. I will spare you from that (for now), but I feel there was so much that could have been done to improve the current film. When I went to the theater (and I went in the early evening), there were not many children there. You know who was? 20 somethings wearing shell backpacks and those felt bandanas. Millenials. Truthfully, the production company had to have known that it was my age group who would be spending their money on this movie. It would have been nice if they had respected us. Now I’m not saying that they had to re-create the 1990 film, but some nice nods to it would have been great. Maybe Danny Pennington is New York City’s police chief. Maybe Judith Hoag and Elias Koteas are seen arguing in the background. Maybe the baby Turtles say “Pizza! Pizza!” Maybe we see Raphael in a fit of anger toss aside an old Vanilla Ice CD he finds.

I must say that it was very tough for me to write this review because Ninja Turtles holds a large place in my heart.  I found a lot of faults with the film, but I admit that I will watch it again.  I admit that I have bought a lot of the action figures for the movie.  And I admit that despite all its faults, it still made me smile, even if the movie wasn’t full of T-U-R-T-L-E Power.  Until next time, Cowabunga, dudes!

all media belongs to Nickelodeon

What are your thoughts on the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie? Let me know in the comments!

All photos belong to Nickelodeon

Monthly Movie Preview: August 2014

July has come and gone in the blink of an eye. August promises to close out the summer in style, with a few notable blockbusters and some good independent films sprinkled in. Check out what we have to say about August’s films:

August 1 – Guardians of the Galaxy

Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Djimon Hounsou, Glenn Close, Benicio del Toro

I’m hooked on a feeling… that this might be the greatest Marvel movie ever made. Although the Guardians have been around in comic books for decades, and the team being used for the film having existed since 2008, the number of people who can name any of the individual team members is far surpassed by the volume of fans who have no idea what is going on – and that will work to the film’s benefit. Nobody has any expectations of this rag-tag group, whose diversity is its strongest card. A talented set of actors, endless humor and explosive action will round out the intergalactic adventure that, at worst is a thrilling movie to see with the family, and at best could be this generation’s Star Wars. One thing is certain – we will be at the theaters on Friday to find out. – Sherif

August 1 – Get on Up

Starring: Chadwick Boseman, Nelsan Ellis (True Blood), Dan Aykroyd, Viola Davis, Craig Robinson, Jill Scott, Octavia Spencer

HEEEYYY!!! Now one more time, say that with your best James Brown impression. Couldn’t do it? That’s okay, because Chadwick Boseman sure can when he plays James Brown in the upcoming biopic titled Get on Up. If you are a fan of James Brown, soul, funk, music, and history, this movie is for you. Be prepared to get on up and enjoy this movie directed by Tate Taylor (The Help). However, get on up silently because, well, you are still in a movie theater. I honestly believe this movie is going to be great and it’ll make you feel so many emotions including excitement, happiness, sadness, and sorrow. Despite this movie being about the music of the godfather of soul, it is also about his family and his life, which has not been struggle-free. Basically, I think this movie is going to be fantastic; however, if James Brown and his music is not your thing, it is possibly the drama and the history will be enough to hold your interest. So one more time, get on up, and give it your best HEEEYYY!!! – Evan

 

August 5 – Dragonball Z: Battle of the Gods

Starring: Original voice cast

I’ve been trying to get into DBZ since I recently signed up for Crunchyroll, but there are just so many other great animes out that I haven’t gotten a chance to get to really dive into the series. What really has me interested is the fact that a year after its release, Funimation has taken it upon themselves to get the American theatrical release rights and is showing this in select theaters for a few nights. Something happened with a Tekken animated movie a few years back and it was definitely worth the trip. I don’t personally care about this movie and I figure that any major fan would have already seen the dubbed version, and while I don’t really care for some of the business practices of Funimation, this gives me hope for the future. Anything that gets a big enough following could be a potential candidate for the big screen. There are plenty of animes I would pay to see so if this is your type of thing, make sure to get out there and support it as it will give companies a reason to continue doing this in the future. – Robert

 

August 8 – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Starring: Johnny Knoxville (voice only), Tony Shalhoub (voice only), Megan Fox, William Fichtner, Will Arnett, Whoopi Goldberg

August is here, and whether or not fans burn down the House that Bay built depends on this film. Long-time fans are either reserved or outraged, whether it be the way the Turtles look, the fact that Megan Fox is playing April O’Neil, or if it’s just based off the fact that Michael Bay is the director. All of these points are quite valid, but I can’t help but want to take a chance on this new take on the Heroes in a Half-Shell. We all have our own impression on what we consider the Turtles to be, and I think that any major motion picture attention to the franchise is a win in my books. There’s simply no way this TMNT incarnation will be as amazing as the originals, or even the new Nickelodeon television series, but as long as Bay can capture the magic of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles that made it such an instant classic 30 years ago, it may continue to be at the forefront of pop culture for all ages. – Sherif

August 8 – What If

Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Zoe Kazan, Adam Driver

Originally titled The F Word for its initial 2013 debut, What If is the tale of Harry Potter trying to avoid being put in the friend-zone with a decidedly hot blonde. It sounds like a cliché concept, but What If has already garnered a lot of critical acclaim, earning Best Adapted Screenplay at the Canadian Screen Awards. Daniel Radcliffe is finally believable as an adult actor, and his best friend in the movie is played by Adam Driver – who is the one sole reason that HBO’s Girls is a watchable show for me. This movie won’t break any new ground, but for any guys looking to get over the Friend Zone hump, this would be the movie to take her to (unless she likes TMNT, in which case you should just marry her). – Sherif

August 8 – Step Up: All In

Starring: Ryan Guzman, Briana Evigan, Adam Sevani, Stephen Boss, and Cyrus Spencer

Confession time:  I have seen every single episode of So You Think You Can Dance.  Every. Single. One.  I haven’t seen any of the Step Up movies, but I am always happy for the contestants of SYTYCD when they make it to gigs beyond the show.  For Stephen Boss aka tWitch and Cyrus Spencer aka Glitch, this is exactly the case.  And really, is anyone going to see these movies for the plot?  No, its a dance movie.  But the dancing should be worth seeing this film, even if it is just for the SYTYCD alum.  – Adrian

August 15 – Frank

Starring: Michael Fassbender, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Domhnall Gleeson (AKA Bill Weasley), Scoot McNairy

I have absolutely no idea what to make of this movie. It looks like Deadmau5 has a crack-head brother or something and we are getting to watch the story of his tomfoolery. The story of a guy who wears a fake head and never ever takes it off seems like it could be humorous but I don’t know if this is my kind of comedy. After watching the trailer my interest is definitely piqued but there are too many other things I would rather see so I would say that I will wait to rent this at Redbox or something, but truth be told I will probably forget about this movie once I’m done writing this. – Robert

 

August 15 – Life After Beth

Starring: Aubrey Plaza, Dane DeHaan, Anna Kendrick, John C. Reilly, Molly Shannon

As much as I love these actors and zombies, I am rather sick of people being in love with monsters. Although the idea may be over done in this we see upcoming actor Dane DeHaan (Amazing Spider-Man 2) as Zach, a young man who we see struggling emotionally due to the loss of his girlfriend. This quickly changes as Zach sees Beth (Aubrey Plaza), his lost girlfriend and finds she has been resurrected somehow, and although she initially shows no signs they start to figure out she is a zombie and needs to eat human flesh. This will almost guaranteed bring laughs if for nothing else due to the cast, but ultimately it will be lost among the other blockbusters this month. It is definitely not a family film and is marketed towards the teen and young adult community. Although the film itself may be easily forgotten due to other massive films this month don’t forget it as it will likely be a well liked film among certain groups. – Jacob

August 15 – The Expendables 3

Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Antonio Banderas, Jet Li, Wesley Snipes, Kelsey Grammer(?), Terry Crews, Victor Ortiz, Harrison Ford, Mel Gibson, Arnold Schwarzenegger

Initially sold as a man-gasm inducing thrill-fest, this franchise is two strokes away from permanently shooting blanks. I love action flicks as much as the next guy, and I genuinely thought the franchise was a good idea, but is there something really so wrong with just letting the legends ride off into the sunset without having to sit through multiple hours of screaming, slow-motion firefights and catchphrases that barely worked twenty years ago? Let’s be honest; nobody is watching this film for the acting, or the storyline. Twenty & thirty-something men get to see some of their action star idols duke it out as one last hurrah. The third installment gives us Antonio Banderas, Mel Gibson (the new bad guy), Harrison Ford, a post-prison Wesley Snipes and Kelsey Grammer. If the fate of the world is in Frasier Crane’s hands, we’re all screwed. There’s no way I’m influencing you’re decision to see The Expendables 3, as you’ve likely already made your decision before reading this. – Sherif

August 15 – The Giver

Starring: Brenton Thwaites, Jeff Bridges, Meryl Streep, Odeya Rush, Katie Holmes, Taylor Swift

I won’t lie.  When I see the trailer for The Giver, I get chills.  Based off the book The Giver by Lois Lowry, the movie will be a look into one boy’s world… a utopia that isn’t actually that perfect.  It feels odd to be writing a preview on this for two reasons.  One being that practically every millennial and younger have read the book in school.  The other being that if I say much more for those who don’t know the plot, there is a lot to give a way.  In short, go see this movie.  You will not be disappointed.  -Adrian

August 22 – Sin City: A Dame to Kill For

Starring: Jessica Alba, Josh Brolin, Rosario Dawson, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Eva Green, Bruce Willis

Is it 2005 again, or did Robert Rodriguez just find a way to make Jessica Alba hot again?? It’s been nearly a decade, but Frank Miller’s Sin City is coming back to the silver screen in its second installment, A Dame to Kill For. Just like last time, the star-studded cast will take turns adding their pieces to the puzzle. Sin City vets like Alba, Bruce Willis and Josh Brolin are back, but several big name newcomers will also be sharing the spotlight, including Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Viewers should expect multiple plot twists, both in a sequel and prequel aspect to the original. Miller and Rodriguez’s visual style also looks to be prevalent throughout the film. This is going to be a fun movie any way you look at it. If you can’t wait for the movie to come out, you can also read the graphic novel of the same name, as it was released over 20 years ago. – Sherif

August 22 – To Be Takei

Starring: George Takei

Oh my! To Be Takei is a documentary depicting the life of brilliant and ever-exuberant George Takei. It tells his story from his childhood in a Japanese internment camp to his ground breaking role on Star Trek to his coming out story and marriage. This promises to be an incredibly inspiring film, especially for anyone who has felt trapped by society just for being who they are. George cleverly reminds us in the tagline that “It’s Okay to Be Takei!” As a Trekkie and proud member of the LGBT community, I’m extremely excited to see this movie hit the big screen, On Demand, and iTunes on August 22nd.  – Charlotte

 

August 22 – Are You Here

Starring: Owen Wilson, Zach Galifianakis, Amy Poehler

This movie looks like it could be a more light-hearted sequel to Due Date. The movie stars Zach Galifinakis as yet another crazy person with a myriad of issues, only this time he inherits a small fortune and everybody seems to be out to get it from him. It actually looks pretty funny but looks like it might have more of those light-hearted friendship moments than I would prefer from a movie with him in it. His usual style of comedy hasn’t yet grown old to me so this definitely looks like something worth checking out. – Robert

August 22 – If I Stay

Starring: Chloë Grace Moretz, Jaimie Blackley, Liana Liberato, Mireille Enos, and Joshua Leonard

Honestly, I have never read If I Stay.  However, it doesn’t look half bad.  The story follows a teenage celloist named Mia who has a pretty good life going on until her family gets in a fatal car wreck.  Mia experiences an out of body experience while in a coma and must decide whether to go back to living or go… elsewhere.  I don’t know whether this will appeal to the masses, but anything that gets teenagers to read seems pretty decent to me. – Adrian

August 29 – Life of Crime

Starring: Jennifer Aniston, Tim Robbins, Isla Fisher, Yasiin Bey

Life of Crime reminds me of the type of comedy that my parents would have watched when I was a kid, and one that I wouldn’t have understood for the life of me. I have a feeling this could be the same way. Tim Robbins plays a rich man whose beautiful wife (Aniston) is kidnapped. When the kidnappers attempt to collect the ransom, Robbins refuses to pay. If it sounds like an idea that’s been done before, that’s because it has. The 1986 movie Ruthless People had pretty much the same premise, and Life of Crime is credited as being based off the book The Switch. I’d be lying if I said that Jennifer Aniston, Mos Def and Tim Robbins didn’t sell me on seeing the movie, but otherwise, Life of Crime doesn’t bring nearly enough to the table to make me want to sit through it. – Sherif