Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014) – A Movie Review

Our green heroes come again this time directed by Jonathan Liebesman (Battle: Los Angeles, Wrath of the Titans) and produced by Michael Bay (Pain & Gain, Transformers: Age of Extinction) in the latest reboot of the franchise, retelling the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles origin.

After several attacks of the Foot Clan in New York City, a bold but underrated journalist April O'Neil tries to follow the lead of the criminal gang, only to find out that a vigilante group is fighting secretly against these evildoers, and who also happen to be in fact, turtles.

“Noventa e nove formaggio!” – The 99 Cheese Pizza

The cast this time is not as big as a 99 Cheese Pizza, and probably not as tasty either. However, the film isn't exactly a sewer's waste. The main human heroic cast is formed by Will Arnett (Semi-Pro, G-Force) as Vernon Fenwick the cameraman, and April O'Neil's love interest portrayed by Megan Fox (Transformers, Jennifer's Body), an inquisitive and sexy news reporter. In the evil team we have William Fitchner (The Lone Ranger, Elysium) as the ambitious entrepreneur Erick Sacks, and Tohoru Masamune (Warbirds, Inception) as Shredder, the classic archnemesis of the turtles in the franchise. The CGI Turtle team are Johnny Knoxville (Jackass, The Dukes of Hazzard) as Leonardo's voice, because the motion caption was performed by Pete Ploszek in his debut on the big screen. Alan Ritchson (Smallville, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire) as Raphael, Jeremy Howard (Galaxy Quest, Men in Black II) as Donatello, Noel Fisher (Agent Cody Banks, Battle: Los Angeles) as Michelangelo, and the charismatic Tony Shalhoub (Gattaca, Pain & Gain) as Splinter's voice. Spliter's motion capture was portrayed by Danny Woodburn (Watchmen, Mirror Mirror).

We have the best and worst acting in this group. While Megan Fox looks pretty, sexy and sassy as always, this bombshell can't compensate her lack of acting skills smiling and staring with a sensual look at the camera. I'm really a fan of her modeling career, but she still needs to work more on her performance, if she wants to stay long in this business. Will Arnett delivers unfortunately a not so funny portrayal of his character line after line, but I can't understand why. He is in fact a very funny and talented actor, he has done great characters in important comedy shows before, like in Arrested Development and 30 Rock for example, why I can't laugh with him this time? However, he masters the camera and she loves him back. We cannot say that he had a poor performance, unlike his acting partner Megan Fox. The greatest of all characters this time were the Turtles. Yes! Our heroes are back! They don't look as appealing as the lovely Jim Henson's puppets from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990), but they are as funny and clever as they always have been. Their design is extremely realistic, becoming a little creepy to watch, maybe they are just arriving to the limits of the Uncanny Valley for these folks. But, if you ignore Splinter's wet nose, or you get used to the Turtles' nostrils, you will fall in love with this old team and its new look. The bad guys just act bad too. Shredder is as flat and unconvincing as Fitchner is. They are bad, just because the sake of it. Really boring stuff.

We have a secondary cast too with an almost nonexistent involvement in the movie, like Whoopi Goldberg (Ghost, Sister act) as Bernadette Thompson, April's and Vernon's boss, Taran Killam (SNL, 12 Years a Slave) as Jim McNaughton an obnoxious journalist that thankfully appears only once in the movie, and Abby Elliott (SNL, No Strings Attached) as Taylor, April's roommate. Their parts are so tiny that they could have been written out and nobody had noticed it. However, Abby is incredibly funny, even with just a few lines. On the other hand, Killam is just there to deliver sarcastic comments about April O'Neil's competence to never come back again. That's a real shame. Although Killam appears just a few scenes in 12 Years a Slave (2013), he did a great acting display on screen. They could have taken more advantage of his talent and make a much better movie with his performance.

Turtle Chicka Pow Wow!

I like movies because they really surprise me. Not always the good way, I have to admit. For many months I thought that this movie was going to be a huge disappointment for me. Fortunately I was wrong and everything I thought it was going to be real bad, was in fact cool and nice. But hey, there are always some “buts”, like the acting that I already told you about. Another thing that made me cringe during the movie was the music. At first I thought: “wow this sounds very cool”, “this is a great opening for this movie”, “it sounds so catchy and heroic!”. Well, after hearing the same tune fifteen minutes later, thirty minutes later, and one hour later, I was like “hey, is this for real? It sounds like a porn loop!”. That's right, it was more like a track set on replay over and over again, almost nonstop. It was not fun at all, it was really bad. The music was composed by Brian Tyler (Battle: Los Angeles, Thor: The Dark World), something that I found weird, because this guy doesn't make bad soundtracks. I really enjoyed for instance the Thor: The Dark World (2013) one, and Battle: Los Angeles (2011), although a little bit boring, it wasn't like this one. This repeating noise is simply unbearable. This is definitely the worst in this movie. After all, Megan Fox is pretty, but this music is just Ew!

Another downside of the movie is most action sequences. They have the terrible Michael Bay “seal of quality” all over the movie. Strident sound effects, lots of meaningless explosions, takes that repeat themselves from different angles out of sync or across different scenes without any logical order, and robotic sound effects to season the movements of the armors and weaponry, only to mention some “Bayish sins”.

Aside from Megan Fox, cartoonish characters supported by mediocre performances, terrible action scenes and worse music, this movie is enjoyable. The good thing is it doesn't last long, just one hour and forty one minutes. So, although the good things don't last too much, the same happens with the bad ones too.

In Conclusion

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles ain't gonna win any Oscar, but hey, it made me laugh now and then throughout the movie. Even Product Placement wasn't that bad as I would have expected after all. The jokes weren't stupid-dumb like in Transformers, but they aren't sophisticated either. They are effective and clean. I swear I wasn't ready to laugh the good way, but I did. The effects are state-of-the-art and really updates pretty well our beloved heroes. I still like much more the 1990 version, not only because of my personal taste for the puppets or their origin, but also as a movie. However, this version brings fun to our lives and resurrects the Ninja Turtles franchise fair enough, which is a good thing. If you want to see it, there's no harm on it, go and watch it. Good job Liebesman!

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Cowabunga Dudes! Picture by Global Panorama CC BY-SA 2.0 Property of Paramount Pictures. 1)

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Global Panorama (August 10th 2014). Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2014 Movie Poster. (Uploaded to Flickr.com by TGP) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/)], undefined. Paramount Pictures. Picture Available On-line in https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5590/14875264344_21c7da7ae2.jpg

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