Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014) Movie Review

September 2, 2014 at 12:07 PM | Posted in (All Posts) | Leave a comment

TMNT

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014) Movie Review

While I would say one of the weakest points of my writing ability is initially getting to the point in a review or article — whatever I may be writing. But here, I’ll try to get right to the point.

If you didn’t watch the new Ninja Turtles movie because Michael Bay directed it (which is incorrect, he produced it), I don’t have much respect for you.

If you saw the film and still didn’t like it, there is a part of me that really doesn’t respect you still. I feel that 90% of the negative reviews for this film were set by predetermined opinions of fair weather TMNT fans who feel like this is Michael Bay claiming up something from their childhood, putting his own formula on it — and spitting it out as a summer blockbuster. And most of them went into it wanting to hate it — expecting to hate it — and they walked out stubbornly refusing to see it for what it was —

A great Ninja Turtles movie.

That’s simply what it is. If you want to act like the original film from 1990 was something on the same level of Tim Burton’s Batman or some other well received comic adaptation, you’re kidding yourself. That movie was great for Ninja Turtle fans, and so is this one. I would even go as far as to say it’s my favorite Ninja Turtle film yet, and I don’t “hate” any of them, for the record. But critics have never been able to wrap their heads around the Ninja Turtles. Some people who refuse to accept the movie for what it is like to act as though describing a movie as “fun” is some sort of insult to their intelligence. But it’s completely fun — and in my opinion — almost every Ninja  Turtles movie has been that.

I feel like making this uselessly long (which I may still end up doing) won’t really get anywhere, so I’ll try my best to keep it short. And yes, I imagine this will go heavily into spoiler territory.

The film, directed by Jonathan Liebesman, uses a new origin for the Ninja Turtles and Splinter (to the big screen). If you’ve read the new IDW TMNT series from Kevin Eastman, or even watched the 2012 cartoon — you can see they pull heavy influence from both, so for those who are saying it’s unoriginal are completely mistaken. Basically, it’s a much better origin for modern-day that involves April’s father — a scientist –working with another scientist named Erik Sachs to develop a mutagen (with substances taken from an asteroid from outer space) that could create a quicker regeneration for humans to fight diseases — something to put the immune system in an overdrive where it could almost heal itself. And while they do make mention that the mutagen could have come from outer space — before you get all upset, that’s pretty much always been an origin point for the mutagen. TCRI was just a cover up for Krang (or the Utroms — whatever you want to call it) in most origins, so the TMNT have always slightly had ties to an alien origin. Anyways…

Their test subjects for this mutagen? Baby turtles. And a rat.

April is a young girl when her father is working on this mutagen, so she spends a lot of time there to be near her father. She takes care of the turtles and the rat as if they were her own pets. She gives all of them names — and each of the turtles have a dab of paint on their shells to tell them apart. For what it’s worth…we could probably assume this is nail polish that April herself put on the shell — similar to the IDW comic. Anyways — she occasionally feeds them pizza and has a legitimate fondness for all her pets, even though they are being used as test subjects.

Splinter later recounts how April’s father was a very kind scientist, while Sachs had other intentions. One thing leads to another, and April’s father finds out that Sachs is developing this mutagen simply to go alongside a poison he has developed that he would sell to the Foot Clan (which Sachs is part of), who would then poison the water supply of New York City, and Sachs would have the only cure available — plus the Foot Clan protecting him. As he later puts it himself, the government would hand him a blank check — and he would become “stupid rich.”

You can call the plot hokey or ridiculous, but Sachs works for the Foot Clan? And is Shredder’s main scientist and ally. What could you expect?

April’s father sets the lab on fire to destroy their work and prevent Sachs from going further, but is killed by Sachs in the process. April comes upon the lab without seeing what had previously happened, and rescues the turtles and the rat — runs them to safety, and then returns to the lab. Now some people have criticized this plot point, saying April should have checked on her father first. Also, if she loved the animals so much, why not keep them as pets? As Splinter later explains — the mutagen was in their blood, and Sachs undoubtedly knew how much April loved the animals. If she had kept them, it would have put them and herself in more danger. Releasing them into the sewer seems like a logical decision for a panicked little girl who just wants to save the lives of the animals she has grown up with.

Anyways, I’m getting too much into the plot, but I really enjoyed it.

The movie of course tells this origin midway through, with April first encountering the Ninja Turtles as an adult while working for Channel 6 news. She is eager to become a more respected journalist, and begins to investigate the recent crimes related to the Foot Clan. She ends up purposefully putting herself in danger while the Foot is taking subway passengers hostage. April is targeted out of the crowd by Karai (Yup, THE Karai) and and almost held at gunpoint, but the turtles arrive just in time on subway cart — killing all the lights, taking out the Foot, then escaping up to the roof of a nearby building. April manages to track them down and snaps a picture, but is caught. Her relationship with the turtles restarts at that point, but it isn’t until much later she realizes that she knew these turtles from long ago.

I’ve already spoiled too much, so I’ll try to cut off from there. Basically, the Shredder and the Foot bring the fight to the turtles, the brothers are kidnapped and eventually reunited. And an awesome snow-covered mountain side fight takes place that is just one of the best movie scenes I have ever seen.

Sewer

It’s a classic story of the Ninja Turtles going head to head with the Shredder. Splinter is great, and the screen time he has with his sons and April is always entertaining. Megan Fox does a great job as April — even the harshest of critics have given her credit. Will Arnett plays Vern, the cameraman for Channel 6 news who is more of April’s friend than competitor in this adaptation, and it works. He obviously finds April attractive, but there’s also a sincere friendship for her, as he is the only one on the news team who is willing to help her.

Shredder is in the film — and no it’s not Erich Sachs. It’s a proper, evil, Japanese man known as Oroku Saki. He spends most of the movie in his armor, which is a bit overkill, but it’s badass — and considering the turtles are all above 6 feet in this film, he needed to look pretty menacing to seem like a real threat.

I juts loved everything about the film. The turtles have their classic personalities and brotherly love for one another. They joke around and have fun — and there is even a key scene that involves their love of pizza. But they also get serious and put up a serious fight when they have to. Splinter looks great and has the honorable personality you would hope for, but has the classic fatherly relationship to them. There’s even a moment in the film when Splinter is becoming overwhelmed by the Shredder and is seemingly taken down. The Foot spring a trap to cage the turtles back to merely watch while Splinter is beaten again and again — and Leonardo calls out to Splinter as his father in a panicking voice. He just straight up calls out for him as, “Dad” — and it tugged at my heart-strings more than I could have imagined.

I could keep going, but I really don’t think there’s any convincing to be done. People that dislike this movie probably already had it in their mind beforehand, and if you walked out sincerely unhappy after wanting to give it a chance — well I really don’t know what to say. Of course everyone is entitled to their opinion, but I loved this film and I feel like had Michael Bay’s name never been attached to it, the critical outcome would be vastly different.

Roof

In closing…if you’ve ever been a TMNT fan — of the cartoon or the movies or the comics — and if you haven’t seen it, give it a fair chance. It’s everything you would hope it would be for a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film in 2014.

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