Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014)
Origins of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Director: Jonathan Liebesman
Writers: Josh Appelbaum, André Nemec, Evan Daugherty, Peter Laird, Kevin Eastman
Cast: Megan Fox, Will Arnett, William Fichtner, Alan Ritchson, Noel Fisher, Pete Ploszek, Jeremy Howard, Danny Woodburn, Tohoru Masamune, Whoopi Goldberg, Minae Noji, Abby Elliott, Madison Mason, K. Todd Freeman, Paul Fitzgerald, Malina Weissman, Harley Pasternak
Voice Cast: Johnny Knoxville, Tony Shalhoub
Synopsis: A group of mutated warriors face off against an evil kingpin who wants to take over New York.
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for sci-fi action violence
Shell Shocked Music Video
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles- Elevator Scene
3.6 / 10
- Raphael and Splinter were written well. Sadly, I can't say that about the other characters.
- The special effects are good, and it features some of the best action scenes that I've ever seen for this franchise.
- It's funny on how this film pokes fun of itself sometimes.
- Will Arnett tries to add some humor for the flick.
- 3-D Cinematography is great.
- Poorly written script
- Weak character development if at all.
- Megan Fox still can't act, yet we're forced to follow her in this feature because she's the main protagonist.
- Outside of Raphael and Splinter, the rest of the main characters are reduced to generic stereotypes of themselves with little to no real personality.
- The story's own logic makes little to no freaking sense that it's almost baffling
- For a film that Michael Bay promises would be more of a realistic take on the franchise, it's almost amazing how unrealistic it is when you compare it to the originals.
- Makes too many changes to the origin story that might tick off old school fans, but every change they make to the origin is for the worse.
- Outside of Raphael, the turtles are given quirks that define them instead of having genuine personalities.
- Little to no emphasis on story, or character development.
- Entire movie feels rushed. Almost as if Platinum Dunes were putting together a half a** film at the last possible minute.
- The story falls into every cliché in the book, and offers little in terms of originality.
- Shredder is nothing more than plot device to move the story along rather than being treated like an actual character that connects to the turtles.
Knock! Knock! You about to get SHELL SHOCKED!
Michael Bay's "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" is arguably the worst movie adaptation of this franchise that I've ever seen. Not only does this film fail to capture anything that made the Turtles popular to begin with, but most of the characters are reduced to generic stereotypes of themselves.
Plus, for a movie that's allegedly more realistic than the nineties version, it seems a bit unrealistic to say the least. As many of my readers know, I usually never criticize the realism, when it comes to films, because most of them aren't realistic to begin with. That's just a fact, when you stop and think about it. However, whenever you have a producer (i.e. Michael Bay) boast about how his new version is going to be more realistic than the original, then you better deliver on that promise. Sadly, that's not the case here, as it's almost amazing on how the nineties original is still more realistic than the new version that Bay promised would be a darker realistic take on the characters.
The story isn't based on any particular "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" story line, but it does borrow heavily from the 1980s cartoon quite a bit. Therefore, if you're some kid that's been watching the Nickelodeon version of the Turtles that features a teenage April O'Neal, then you're going to be severely disappointed. No, this one starts off with April being a reporter for Channel 6 news, as she investigates the mysterious foot clan.
Like most iterations of the story, the foot clan is an evil terrorist organization hellbent on global domination. And like most versions of this franchise's story arc, it always starts off with New York. The foot clan is lead by a mysterious ninja master named Shredder.
Meanwhile, you have a mutant rat named Master Splinter, who raises four mutant turtles to become the city's protectors against the mysterious foot clan. On the surface, it seems like Michael Bay stuck to formula, but that doesn't mean he didn't deviate quite as bit as well.
For starters, Splinter isn't a human that was transformed into an anthropomorphic mutant rat, nor is he some rat that imitated his master's movements, while in the confines of his cage, and then turned into anthropomorphic rat. Nope, this origin is a bit different.
In this story, Splinter and the turtles were actually April's childhood pets, who were also lab experiments for her dad and his friend, Eric Sacks (William Fichtner). During a fire in the laboratory, April rushes to save her pets, and dumps them into the sewers where she feels they'll be safe. The turtle and Splinter morph into anthropomorphic beings, as Splinter becomes something of a surrogate father figure to them.
As far as how ninjitsu falls into this, Master Splinter finds a book down in the sewers that he uses to teach himself martial arts. Afterwards, the turtles start to follow his lead, and that's basically their entire origin in a nutshell. I would be very critical about how absurd it is to master ninjitsu like this. But then again, I could easily say it's equally absurd to think that a pet rat would imitate his master's ninjitsu moves within the confines of his own cage, so I'll let that slide. In fact, the very idea of the "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" even existing is absurd, when you think about it. So for those of you expecting me to rip on the changes to their origin story, I'm afraid you'll be a bit disappointed. However, that's not to say Michael Bay hasn't given me other reasons to rip on this new movie though....
I'm sure a lot of purist fan boys out there will whine and b**** about all the changes to the origins of the turtles. However, as I said during my "Man of Steel" review, a movie can get away with changes to a character's history as long as they keep the key elements of the character intact, while conveying a cohesive narrative that emphasizes on the character growth. Sadly, Michael Bay's "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" doesn't. Sure, he may not be directing this film, but it still feels like he had his hands all over it.
From the crappy dialogue, poor character writing, poorly put together script, sexist portrayal of women, and heavy emphasis on the visuals, this one seems to have Michael Bay's style written all over it. Sure, the visuals are nice to look at, and I have to admit this movie features arguably some of the best action scenes that I've ever seen in a live action "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" flick.
But apart from those few positives, the rest of the movie leaves a lot to be desired. While I can forgive changes within the characters' origins, I can't overlook the poor character writing. With the exception of Raphael, the rest of the turtles are reduced to generic stereotypes of themselves; resulting in them being given quirks rather any kind of definitive personality traits.
The rest of the turtles aren't even the same characters that many old school fans may have remembered, from previous incarnations. No, these turtles are the generic stereotypes of what you'd expect them to be.
Donatello is reduced to a stereotypical nerd of the group. Complete with glasses, and snorting sounds whenever he laughs. Gee, I guess the filmmakers behind this project really wanted to reinforce the stereotype that Donatello was the nerd of the group.
We also have Leonardo, who has no personality whatsoever. And of course, we have Michelangelo, who is the party dude of the group. Hence, you can expect nothing more than moronic nonsense spewing from his mouth, while acting more like a stereotypical Hollywood cliché version of a teenage stoner than than anything else.
Granted, it's not like the turtles haven't had quirks before in previous film adaptations, but those quirks were not the only thing defining them. Outside of those quirks, they've been shown have genuine personality flaws and traits. Something even the older movies were able to explore. Granted, I may not have liked "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III", nor would I consider "TMNT" a great film either, but in spite of each of their flaws, they still managed to stay true to the characters.
Sure, "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III" had a scene where Donatello seemed a bit out of character, but he wasn't defined squarely based on the fact that he was the smart one. If you watch each of the previous theatrically released films, they all had their own unique personalities; while each displayed a sense of doubt and feelings that made them feel like actual characters. In this new reboot, most of the turtles are reduced to nothing more than generic stereotypes of themselves. It almost doesn't even feel like a "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" film, but rather someone's bad fan fiction of the franchise that somehow got a budget.
Outside of Raphael and Splinter, the rest of the characters aren't that interesting, or developed well. Megan Fox still can't act worth a crap, And to make matters worse, she's more of the focus in this damn feature than she ever was in the "Transformers" franchise. Granted, she wasn't particularly great in those either, but she wasn't pushed in front of us as the main protagonist that we were forced to root for. No, it was plainly obvious from the beginning she was there for nothing more than to provide eye candy for the male demographic, in "Transformers 1 & 2." Yet in this particular reboot, she's not only serving as eye candy for the male audience, but she's also serving as the movie's main lead. Don't get me wrong, it's not like we haven't had any successful female leads before that happen to be sexy. However, the sad reality is that Megan Fox still continues to struggle showing any kind of emotion on screen, and she often comes across as being distant half the time that it makes it hard to relate to her.
Add in the fact that the foot clan's scheme to take over the world makes little to no freaking sense, as it involves spreading a virus throughout the city. Once New York is infected, they plan on selling the antidote to the government for what the villain says is (and I'm quoting them exactly).."Then we'll get paid a stupid amount of money." And somehow, this'll lead to them taking over the world. Okay, I'm not the smartest guy in the world, but that plan makes zero sense.
First of all, they established in the film that the villains are already filthy stinking rich, so why would selling the antidote, to a virus they created, for a "stupid amount of money" lead to them taking over the world? I mean I could buy it if they were going to use the virus throughout various parts of the world; particularly the ones that are most populated; while even blackmailing other countries into agreeing to surrender to the foot clan's rule. Or, here's an idea. In the film, it's established that the villains somehow created the turtles, and the antidote they need to make a "stupid amount of money" lies within their blood.
However, if money is all they allegedly need to take over the world, then wouldn't the fact that they created four talking giant turtles and an anthropomorphic rat make them a "stupid amount of money?" Why go through all the trouble of killing them for the mutagen in their blood if money is all you need to take over the world? Sure, I could buy it if the reason they needed the mutagen in their blood was to create an army of mutants to take over the world. I'd buy that, but the way this film sets up it's own premise is rather laughable at best; which makes me wonder if the filmmakers even proofread their own script.
As I mentioned before, the story is a joke, and it's filled with various lapse in it's own logic. Majority of the characters are reduced to generic stereotypes of themselves, and Megan Fox can't carry a film as the main protagonist.
Sure, I'll admit Will Arnett tries to add doses of humor throughout this feature, and it's funny on how this film pokes fun of itself sometimes, as many fans have probably seen in the trailers. Plus, the 3-D cinematography is great as well.
But apart from this being the most visually stunning "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" film ever made, it's also the worst theatrically released film of this franchise. Not only does Michael Bay and Platinum Dunes fail to capture what made the turtles so popular to begin with, but it almost seems like he put together a rushed story filled with nonsensical subplots and a weak narrative that does little to help the story.
Like I said before, I can normally overlook changes in any film series, as long as it's done well. However, every change the filmmakers do in this movie is for the worst, and it only makes me yearn for the older films. Granted, I'm not going to lie, and say that I would put any of the old films in my top ten superhero movie list, but they were definitely better than this garbage.
Also for a film that Bay claims would be more realistic than the previous ones, I find that assessment laughable considering you have turtles that stand over eight feet tall that jump around on roof tops. They seem to have superhuman like strength. There's even a scene where they're jumping on rooftops during the freaking day, yet NOBODY sees them. Um...you really want to say your version is more realistic? Oh and get this...the shells are bulletproof too. Oh my god! No wonder Shredder had use a giant mechanical suit to fight the turtles. Otherwise, he never would've stood a chance.
Look, I'm not going to say that the original films were realistic either because they weren't. However, they were at least plausible in how they were presented. The turtles didn't have superhuman strength, and they could still be hurt by conventional weapons. They weren't eight feet tall, as they were actually around 5'7, and they wandered the city mostly during the night to avoid detection. They even put on trench coats sometimes to avoid being seen. As most of my readers know, I normally wouldn't criticize a film for being unrealistic, but when you say your reboot is going to be more realistic than the classic, then you better back it up. Otherwise, I'll have to point it out in my review of it.
Overall, Michael Bay may not have been in the director's chair for this flick, but this one still reeks of his handy work. Definitely the worst theatrically released "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" film that I've ever seen. Not only does this reboot disregard everything that made the characters iconic, but it doesn't even do a great job reestablishing the changes it makes to the original story arc. The 3-D is nice to look at, but I wouldn't waste my money on this feature. In fact, my personal advice to all my readers is to stick to the original films, as this one isn't worth your time.
© 2014 Steven Escareno
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