Saturday, November 15, 2014

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Jonathan Liebesman, 2014) Review

For those unaware, 2012 saw the start of a new TV show based on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. It's good. It's damn good and is currently one of my favourite shows on TV at the moment. Now I'm sure you nostalgia blinded people won't believe that anything can be better than your precious 80s show and yes, it was good...emphasis on "was". It's very dated now and the new show delivers much more on what the old show established. Let's see what happens when the mindset behind the Transformers films gets a hold of the franchise. Let's find out.

New York City is under threat by the Foot Clan led by a villain known as the Shredder (Tohoru Masamune) who has a hold on everything of importance thanks to high connections. Their reign is challenged by four mutated turtles taught in the art of Ninjutsu: Leonardo (Johnny Knoxville) Raphael (Alan Ritchson), Donatello (Jeremy Howard) and Michelangelo (Noel Fisher) who fight to protect New York as well as a reporter named April O'Neil (Megan Fox) who stumbled upon the Foot Clan's plans and is in need of protection from them.

I'm going to say this. You're probably not going to like it but I'm going to say it anyway. I enjoyed Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Does that means it's a good film. Not entirely. The plot is pretty bad as it is almost a complete retelling of The Amazing Spider-Man right down to the collapsing tower during the climax (that's not even a spoiler. They shoved that in every trailer!). A problem also rises in that they made the turtles the best characters (naturally) meaning that every scene they're off screen you feel like you're wasting your time.

So what then? This is just a generic action film? No. It is a Ninja Turtles film. They nail the personalities of the four turtles and, dare I say, the look fine. I know that everyone was concerned about how they look seeing as they were made more realistic with nostrils and lips but they fit into the look the film is going for and, just like the modern show, have different statures and face shape. I love that they've started to do this with recent TMNT stuff to make them more unique and less samey. Really, my only issue with their designs is why Donatello wears glasses. Yes, I get it! He's a nerd but look at the show. The 2012 Donnie is easily the best version of the character (thank you, Rob Paulsen). As for the human characters, it is fair to say that this is Megan Fox's best acting (not that that's saying much). The main reason is that she isn't really used for sex appeal and is allowed to just play a character. The surprise for me, though, was Will Arnett. When he was cast, I assumed he was going to be a cringe worthy comic relief on the side lines but instead we get a competent yet generally funny character who holds their own and has his fair share of proper moments. William Fichtner is wasted though especially when his character isn't even given any closure. He just disappears during the climax. Wasted.

One of my biggest worries about the film was that it would lose the comedic and lighthearted side the franchise is known for. Luckily that isn't the case as I found myself laughing out loud many times throughout. From the turtles pumped on Adrenalin to the out of nowhere elevator scene, there is no fear about the lack of humour. I will admit there were a few moments that were pointless and not funny but, overall, I would label this as a funny film. The action is also great but after the phenomenal action from Captain America: The Winter Soldier earlier this year, it falls a bit short...although the snow chase scene was one of the films highlights.

So all in all, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is not a childhood destroying abomination. While the original film is arguably a more 'pure' TMNT experience, this one doesn't do too bad. The action is cool, the humour is retained, the turtles are well captured and it just looks good however the story definitely takes away from it. Maybe because I'm a huge fan of the current show that I was clamouring for something more like that but overall I did find myself enjoying it. You can quote me on this: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is not a disaster. I would recommend it for those that like the franchise and know not to take it seriously...but the 2012 show is still the best version of TMNT...just throwing that in still.

The story is cliche but it's the little things that make this one worth a watch just don't take it too seriously.

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