Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Review

Elevator

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (TMNT) franchise has been through many iterations and revamps, but it seems to be a tough series to successfully resurrect. Enter Michael Bay, collector of Golden Raspberries and Autobot trophy heads, to save the day! With Michael Bay producing and Jonathan Liebesman (Darkness Falls, Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning, Battle: Los Angeles) directing, we’re sure to see the Turtles back in the limelight, right? Right?


The plot of TMNT combines the (lightly retconned) origins of the Turtles with the generic tropes of any summer popcorn flick. It begins following April O’Neil (Megan Fox) as she investigates a vigilante attack on the rising gang, the Foot Clan. She soon discovers that the vigilante isn’t a masked hero, but four hulking, green freight trains able to swing shipping containers at their enemies. O’Neil and her hapless cameraman, Vern (Will Arnett) quickly get wrapped up in a feud between the Turtles and Eric Sachs (William Fichtner). Backed by Shredder (Tohoru Masamune), Sachs has dastardly plans for New York City and it’s up to the Turtles to stop him. 

MechaShredder

The plot of TMNT is just one of the many elements that bog down this movie, being too bland to keep your interest and littered with overlong action sequences. Fictional New York City seems to be a dangerous place to live, considering how often it’s under a plot of destruction by villains. You could have easily replaced the Ninja Turtles with the cast of The Expendables and it would have been the same movie. Another issue with TMNT is the writing, specifically in its humor. While there were one or two genuinely funny moments, the rest of the comedic relief comes from pop culture, farts, cheesy one-liners, and swooning over Megan Fox. Speaking of the leading lady, almost every scene she was in was shot from behind. I’m not even sure if Megan Fox was in most of the movie or if it was an Ass-Double doing 90% of the role. Unfortunately, Whoopi Goldberg was definitely in 100% of her scenes.

Naturally, the animation and effects were beautifully rendered, with the exception of the most terrifying version of Master Splinter I’ve seen. The Turtles, though initially creepy, eventually seem normal and exceptionally well put together. Shredder’s Turbo-Transformer-Hyper-Power Suit shines brilliantly during his battles with the Heroes in a Half Shell, but if there’s one thing that Michael Bay has proven it’s that special effects can’t save your movie. After the fourth or fifth lengthy action scene in TMNT, I started to wish that the cars would stop exploding and the Turtles would just get to the next plot point.

Splinter and Crew

The Turtles themselves were a highlight, bringing some entertainment to the dialogue. The characterizations of the four brothers were fun, fresh takes on heroes that have been set in their roles for 30 years. The origin story explains how the Turtles spent their youth being influenced by late 90’s/early 00’s hip-hop & pop culture and it makes for some fun, albeit excessive, interactions. Ralph and Leo still fight, Mikey is still a goofball, and Donny is still the geeky tech, but they’re given some playful new personality traits that compliment the traditional roles of the Turtles.

It’s not that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles failed in every category, but if failed to succeed in any category. The humor is lacking, the plot is dull, the Turtles are well done, but drowned out by the overall mediocrity of the rest of the film. As a lifelong fan of the Ninja Turtles, I would have loved nothing more than an amazing new step in the franchise. Sadly, this movie isn’t doing the Turtles justice. It’s not that I didn’t like this movie, it’s that there wasn’t much to like at all. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles will likely fall back with the rest of the easily forgotten renditions of the beloved Ninja Turtles.

I give Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2.5 “Blatant Product Placements” out of 5

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By Blake Edwards

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