Time: 101 Minutes
Age Rating: Medium Level Violence
Johnny Knoxville as Leonardo (voice)
Pete Ploszek as Leonardo (motion capture)
Alan Ritchson as Raphael
Noel Fisher as Michelangelo
Jeremy Howard as Donatello
Megan Fox as April O’Neil
Malina Weissman as Young April
Will Arnett as Vern Fenwick
William Fichtner as Eric Sacks
Tony Shalhoub as Splinter (voice)
Danny Woodburn as Splinter (motion capture)
Tohoru Masamune as Shredder
Whoopi Goldberg as Bernadette Thompson
Director: Jonathan Liebesman
Spawned from a lab experiment gone awry, teenage terrapins Leonardo, Michelangelo, Donatello and Raphael live in the sewers beneath New York. Although their rodent sensei, Splinter, advises against showing themselves above ground, the justice-loving, pizza-eating brothers can’t stand idly by while evil Shredder and his minions terrorize the city. With help from intrepid reporter April O’Neil (Megan Fox) and her cameraman (Will Arnett), the Turtles set out to save New York.
I wasn’t excited for this film for a number of reasons, first of all I’m not a big TMNT fan and second of all, Michael Bay produced it and at this point it’s not even worth trying to expect good things coming out of him at this point (Though I heard 13 Hours was pretty good). However despite all that this movie really wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. There are some decent action scenes and I wasn’t really bored throughout this movie. However, it’s still not a good movie and has almost all the elements that made Transformers such a failure.
The film focuses more on April O’Neil, which I think is a pretty big mistake. It’s like how the Transformers movies focussed more on the human over the Transformers. I don’t know why Michael Bay keeps having movies focus on the humans instead of the titular characters, humans aren’t the most interesting characters when the movie has giant mutant turtles. Also the tone was a little too serious, it had the tone of a Transformers movie, that’s the vibe that I got throughout the movie. I don’t know much about TMNT but I do know that they usually have a lighter tone. Also I felt that the story wasn’t very strong, I didn’t particularly care about what was going on, I was just enjoying the action when it was happening.
Megan Fox isn’t a very good actress but she was fine in her role, she didn’t distract as much as I thought she would. The performance that surprisingly annoyed me more was Will Arnett, whose sole purpose was to be the comic relief. Shredder, the main villain of the movie is the most generic villain you could find, even Doctor Doom in the last act of Fant4stic wasn’t this roughly put together. The reason was that William Fichtner was going to be him before the casting backlash which resulted in some random faceless guy with no personality being Shredder. William Fichtner was pretty good in the movie but there was no real payoff of his character because of the production change.
Even though Michael Bay produced it, his fingerprints are all over it. The action scenes are fun to watch but they are very Transformers esque and are very over the top. A lot of people have talked about the designs of the turtles, and yes they do look a little badly designed. It’s not so much the body design I have a problem with, it’s that the heads looked a little messy. From the trailer of the sequel, the designs do look better so at least Bay and others are listening to the feedback.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be but it’s by no means a good movie. It does have some fun action scenes but at the same time it felt like a Michael Bay movie with it’s over the top action, annoying humour and a story that’s not very interesting. I don’t think you really need to see the whole movie, the main plus of the film is the action. Everything else is fine or straying into bad territory. The sequel, Out of the Shadows, actually looks pretty good and has potential to be the TMNT movie that fans want. It probably won’t have to try that hard to be better than this movie, this movie wasn’t bad but it felt quite mediocre overall.
“I don’t know much about TMNT but I do know they usually have a lighter tone”
Untrue. The original comics were fun but stylistically dark in it’s early issues. Many write them off as an an attempt at at a parody of “dark” comics of 80s but both the creators have separately denied that this was their intent. As the book went on it had some genuinly well told serious storytelling.
Sure, the most well known version the 80s cartoon reimagined it as light, goofy fare but by the standards of Saturday morning cartoons it started as semi serious and it’s generally seen to have jumped the shark when it became too stupid. A similar case could be made for the 90s movies, the first of which featured the gimmicks and catch phrases from the show but took most of it’s plot and characterisation from the comics. As they went on the pendulum switched to their detriment.
Most versions since then has kept at least a semi serious tone. Even the latest animated series which is very light and comedic but balances that with dark and dramatic moments. I’d argue TMNT has never worked when it’s treated as a joke and honestly I didn’t see this movie as serious in the appropriate parts.