Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles


Right, lets get one thing clear before we go into this, so people understand what stance I’m coming from watching this. I ‘really’ like Ninja Turtles, I really enjoy it as a franchise. I love the various animated series, I do get a kick out of live action films and I have read some of the comics, the majority of which are enjoyable. When Turtles are good they are really good, but when they are bad believe me, you will know it sucks.

To be honest, when I heard there was a live action re-boot of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles coming out this year, I was really hyped, that is until I saw the name of the producer, “Michael Bay”. Me and Mr Bay have a really tenuous relationship when it comes to films. He has not made a single film that I have enjoyed! This years track record has been particularly bad having made The Purge Anarchy and the abysmal Transformers Age of Extinction plus we have another horror film from called Ouija coming out soon which judging from the trailer we shouldn’t look forward to and I probably won’t see it. But I thought, if he is only in a producer role then this film may have some chance, and then I saw the Director! This film is directed by Jonathan Liebesman, who is a regular Michael Bay director and has directed the awful films Battle: Los Angeles and Texas Chainsaw Massacre The Beginning. So my stance was, I was coming into this film as a Turtles fan, with very low expectations.

The plot was just a bore to sit through, and for a Turtles film, that is really saying a lot. This is very typical Michael Bay in a sense. His films really seem to have a nack for pushing the story and the characters to the background in order to put more of the focus on the action sequences and the special effects. So as a result, we have really hollow characters who you have absolutely no investment in!

April O’Neil starts out alright, but then she gets even duller as the film goes on and she is virtually a nonentity. Also the writers took lots of leaps and bounds to make her more integral to the plot, but this kind of has a negative effect overall, because it feels really forced.

There are a lot of changes to the origins of the Turtles from their comic and animated series counterparts and whilst some of them are alright, some of the changes put in really feel out of place and unnecessary. Also these villains really feel completely un-threatening, with the one exception being The Shredder who is done well in this movie. This is a really good interpretation of The Shredder, but his overall motivations feel really confusing, we don’t understand why he wants to take part in the villains plot, he really feels like a token thug and patsy for the overall villain which is a new character called “Eric Sacks”. Before anyone says anything, I’m not spoiling anything by mentioning that, even if you hadn’t seen the trailers for this film, its so obvious he is the villain. William Fichtner really plays this character completely un-subtly, but I think that was more a fault of the writers than it was in his acting ability, but we will get back to that later.

The comics and the animated series, always had the Foot Clan as a group of ruthless ragtag Ninja’s. This film seems to have the idea to have them as a sort of weird paramilitary team, and as a result they come across as completely non-threatening. The Turtles can easily kick their arses, why and I supposed to feel afraid for them? Also there is a female general in the Foot Clan who was built up as having a challenge for Turtles and playing a bigger role, but she is cast aside so un-ceremoniously without ever been given a chance to shine, why am I caring whether the Turtles win when these villains are so bad!! The villains motivations are also really confusing and eventually suffers from a major plot hole, we get kind of why they want to do the overall plot that is going to be a major part of the climax, but it still felt very hollow because the motivations are so simple, and I know a lot of people could go into a Ninja Turtles movie with that, but it wasn’t enough for me, especially when you’ve got much better comic movies to compare it against.

The film also tended to have very subtle references to past incarnations of Turtles, which range from pretty good, like the setting of the climax of the film, which I won’t spoil for people, and various lines of dialogue from characters. However, some of these really felt like they would be alienating to newcomers, which considering there are a lot of young kids now who have not been brought up on the older Ninja Turtles cartoons, this really should have been thought out. But this is a major anniversary of Ninja Turtles and people like me are aware of the older series, so these subtle references do alright by my books.

I went to see this film with my mate Alex, who really doesn’t know that much about Ninja Turtles, so we came from different perspectives, but we both again went in with low expectations, and he didn’t enjoy it either. This is a shame as I would have liked him to disagree with me so he could have gone back and looked up the previous incarnations of the characters. But he wasn’t motivated in any sense of the word, because this film did nothing to think that this franchise had anything to start with.

The plot overall was a mess, and as I said it has so little character to it, so as a result, there is so little investment. There was nothing to get us motivated, there was a bit here and there but the only reason I know these characters are Leonardo, Raphael, Michelangelo and Donatello is because they said so. We don’t really get much into what their characters are by the end of the film and there is very little discussion about the overall relationships of all the different characters. Say what you like about the animated film TMNT, but at least that film went into the overall dynamic of the Turtles and their world, this film does not! Whilst this film also tries to do a bit of comedic moments in the middle of the actions similar to Guardians of the Galaxy, which I previously reviewed, this film ‘fails’ at that, whereas Guardians gave me quite a few chuckles which I enjoyed, this film gave me hardly any chuckles. Overall you got the point here, the plot was just ok at best and a real bore at worst and it kept shifting and it wasn’t worth sitting through the 101 minutes to get the good moments.

Moving on to the actors. This film felt like it had a hundred mis-casts. Megan Fox doesn’t make a good April O’Neill. She starts out alright, but as I said before she really fades towards the end and she is dull in this role at times. Will Arnett is also really un-funny and really dull to sit through, you’ve seen this character a hundred times and you’ve seen it acted this way a hundred times. William Fichtner is so un-subtle its unbelievable and while The Shredder is pretty good we aren’t allowed to see a lot of his acting ability because he’s kept in shadows half the time when he’s not in the CGI suit, oh but believe me we will get to that later. The weirdest mis-casting for me is the Turtles themselves, now I’m aware that three of the Turtles are voiced by professional voice actors, which I think is a good idea, I think celebrities wouldn’t do as good a job as you would just be able to hear the celebrity’s voices and not connect to them as a character. Then I realised that Leonardo was being voiced by Johnny Knoxville! What is the point of that, either go all voice actors or do all celebrities, don’t do half and half, you really can tell its Knoxville and it’s really, really distracting. Overall the actors are ok, but with a plot like this, they really will come across as dull and un-interesting so that as a result the best acting in the world couldn’t have saved this film and this film didn’t have brilliant in that department anyway for a large majority.

In typical Michael Bay fashion of the character and story taking a back seat to the effects and the action, you would hope that would be really good and at times, yes I could say it probably is. When my friend and I went to see this movie, we went to see it in 3D, and while the effect does kind of work for a couple of scenes, I think it actually hinders the movie quite largely, and some of it feels like you wouldn’t necessarily need it. We actually said after the film that we thought we probably would have seen and felt the effects a bit better if we had seen the 2D version. However there were a couple of effects where you knew the 3D was really required to get the full enjoyment out of it. This really could still be a negative point against the film as it means it will not translate well to the 2D screenings or to when people get it on home DVD.

Also I will just come out and say it, this film has some of the worst integration of live action CGI I have seen all year. The majority of the time you see characters like the Turtles and the Shredder, who I still can’t believe is CGI. You will believe you are looking at a completely different film, it feels like half of this was meant to be a 3D animated film, but then we suddenly cut back to the live action actors and they don’t seem to fit at all. It’s almost like you’re flicking between channels at times. What makes it worse is the fact that these Turtles look ugly, I have no idea whose bright suggestion it was to give the Turtles this design choice, it doesn’t make any sense compared to their previous incarnations and will probably just alienate long time fans.

As for the action sequences themselves, it really varies, some sequences are pretty good, like the Splinter fighting the Shredder, however I know most of those panned out camera sequences are only really working because the entire thing has been done on the computer, which is a problem for me considering that this is supposed to be a live action film, not an animated film! This film suffers from the typical Michael Bay action sequence trades as well, including shaky camera’s, weird slow motion out the middle of nowhere, massive destructions for no reason, and of course do I have to say it ‘explosions’, including an effect at the end which will really make you scratch your head and realise you will want to leave the theatre quickly.

Can I find a positive point in this movie? Well I’m trying but it’s really hard. There are some really great action sequences, it does feel like there was at least some attention paid to the Turtles overall continuity and world, and it starts out relatively ok, but this was a film that just didn’t work for me on so many levels and just trying to find a positive was really difficult. The best part about this film is the Shredder as the villain, but even then I found a lot of negative points to that.

To summarise this film was really difficult to sit through. It did have its good moments, but it just didn’t work overall. It really felt at times like a really good Ninja Turtle movie was trying to get out, but I don’t think this will work for old school fans and I don’t believe that new fans will get into the franchise because of it. It suffers way too much from the typical Michael Bay formula and I really think another director and producer should have been put on this project. This is a DVD rental at BEST, and at worst, its a complete avoid. It’s so disappointing, what could have been a Great Bad Ass Re-boot similar to the Dark Knight Trilogy for the Turtles, turns into a complete missed opportunity!!

Well that’s my review of Ninja Turtles guys. If you thought it was good please drop a comment to tell me that I’m wrong, but if you agree with me drop a comment as well. I will accept any opinions and comments. I’m up for a discussion with anyone if necessary. Once again I will mention I welcome “All” opinions.

Well I’m afraid there is going to be a bit of a break from the film society for the next fortnight as I am going on holiday to India. However the second I get back I will be reviewing films again. You won’t have to wait too much longer!! On 26th Nov I will be back with my review of the latest Christopher Nolan flick ‘Interstellar’.

The film comes out on November 7th if you want to see it before my review and if you’re going to do that please try and see it in IMAX as I don’t think I’m going to get a chance to by the time I get to see it and would appreciate a perspective on it.

Calvin – Nerd Consultant

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3 comments on “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
  1. Calvin Atkinson says:

    just letting you guys know that because my trip to india i may not be able to reply to comments due to the fact i don’t know how much wifi access i’m gonna get while away hope to be able to read and respond to you’re comments soon

  2. Dream says:

    I hope you enjoy your travels Calvin, and the Wifi in India may surprise you, depending upon where you go (or so I’ve been told, I’m happy to view India from my front room and have no personal gnosis of the continent of Asia!)

    I’m looking forward to your future reviews along with watching “Pride” when available to me. I am absolutely DESPERATE to watch “ Kill the Messenger (2014)” as like “Pride”, it was a time period I experienced and witnessed through the “media” of the day, now known to be “misrepresentative” to say the least.

    Anywayz, safe journeys,

    • Calvin Atkinson says:

      you’ll be happy to know dream i am adding kill the messenger to the review schedule as it doesn’t come out in uk until March 6th 2015

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