Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014) Film Review, a movie directed by Jonathan Liebesman, and starring Abby Elliott, Jeremy Howard, Danny Woodburn, Minae Noji, Pete Ploszek, Megan Fox, Will Arnett, William Fichtner, Noel Fisher, Whoopi Goldberg, Ami Sheth, K. Todd Freeman, Michelle Guo, and Alexander Jameson.
There have been many interpretations of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comics with the latest taking a modern twist but keeping the humor of the original 1980s series that most people remember growing up watching. Its easy to see how fans were upset with the changes in the material after the movie was announced, but to me the franchise has always been changing through the years so its hard to judge if it truly follows the 1984 black and white comics or any of its past incarnations.
All I can say is that anyone thinking of watching TMNT should have an open mind accepting that it won’t be exactly as you may remember it. There have been many versions of TMNT that came before and may soon be more after this reboot.
The origins of the movie remain the same as many of its past versions. New York is under siege by the nefarious Foot Clan under its leader called the Shredder. A young aspiring reporter named April O’Neil (Megan Fox) investigates the Foot and sees their plans being thwarted by some mysterious vigilantes who turn out to be mutant turtles who are teenagers and ninjas!
The film comes from Michael Bay’s Platinum Dunes and directed by Jonathan Liebesman, known for directing Wrath of the Titans and Battle: Los Angeles. The movie was made with a few changes, especially with the Foot Clan becoming more of a paramilitary force rather than ninjas or robots to keep it modern. Then there come the physical appearances of the turtles who appear more brute and larger than we ever imagine them to be. I have no complaints with the Turtles’ appearance, it’s just that they appear more like warriors than ninjas as we see them fight head on with big punches and tackles on their enemies.
The story also seems to bring all the characters together based on history. For April’s character, her late father was the one who experimented on the turtles and their master Splinter along with the second antagonist Erich Sachs (William Fichtner). So the film makes it a huge coincidence that April suddenly runs into her old pets-turned-mutants.
The film does have some good parts when it comes to the humor. We see these Turtles the same way they were in the past incarnations, as brothers who tease one another and look out for each other. It was fun to see them in the sewers sliding and skating just like a bunch of teenagers.
My favorite Turtle out of the group was Michaelangelo. The laid back personality is still there, especially with his flirtatious moves on April that turns out hilarious. The nerdy Donatello, angry Raphael, and the natural leader Leonardo are exactly how anyone would picture them to be for fans of the franchise. The Turtles and the Shredder look pretty amazing based on CGI, but when the action scenes come in, it becomes a bit of a headache when they move too quickly.
Even as the Turtles are kicking butt on screen, we still get to see master Splinter fighting off more than usual against the Foot Clan and Shredder. Megan does a fine job as April keeping her curiosity in the strange and hoping to get that big story for her career. Will Arnett as Vern Fenwick the cameraman keeps the laughs going just like the animated series. Fichtner keeps the same compelling presence on screen as he does in other roles in the past.
The best part of the film to me was the action scene that took place in the snowy mountains. The Turtles are basically going downhill on their shells as they outmaneuver the Foot Clan on their trucks. This felt like a high chase that was pretty fast-paced and exciting to see. I was pretty disappointed that this was the only action scene worth noting, especially since the franchise was known for its action sequences.
In my opinion, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was neither good nor bad. The film still keeps the atmosphere of the story the same and the Turtles still have their personalities in check, just their sizes can be worrisome. It was nice to see the Turtles taken out of their comfort zone in the city to the snowy terrain taking the action up a notch.
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