Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Review
Another week, another reboot
It seems that almost every new movie these days is a reboot, remake or reimagining of a beloved franchise from the 80s or 90s.So it doesn't come as a surprise to discover that everyone's favourite pizza eating, martial arts practising reptiles are the latest franchise to get a modern update. This new film is yet another Michael Bay production, so at least viewers know what to expect. In fact at times the film feels like it was also directed by Bay, although it was actually directed by Jonathan Liebesman (Battle Los Angeles). So you get all the usual Bay cliches like tons of CG, explosions, 360 degree camera pans, slow motion, female objectification, juvenile humour and loads of product placement.You also get Megan Fox, who has presumably kissed and made up with Bay after likening him to Adolph Hitler on the set of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. In fact you get quite a lot of Fox's character, so much so that the film feels more like the April O'Neil story than Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Our titular heroes don't even make an appearance until 22 minutes into a film that tries too hard to change the established backstory of the turtles themselves. In fact the filmmakers have been doing more backflips than a martial artist as far as the story is concerned.
As anyone who grew up in the late 80s and early 90s can tell you, the turtles were flushed down a sewer as babies and came into contact with radioactive ooze which caused them to mutate. When word leaked that the new film intended to make the turtles extraterrestrial in origin there was an outcry. So the backstory was changed to make them and Splinter subjects that were experimented on by April's father and fellow scientist Eric Sacks, played by William Fitchner. After a lab fire and the death of her father, April releases Splinter and the turtles into the sewer where they evolve and grow up. The finished film includes a joke about the whole extraterrestrial storyline but why change the backstory at all.
The fact that the turtles are essentially April's childhood pets means that when they start hitting on her later it's gets rather creepy, to say nothing of the whole inter-species aspect. The film was original just going to be called Ninja Turtles until yet another outcry from fans caused the filmmakers to begrudgingly add the Teenage Mutant part. The change isn't done with good grace, the posters keep the first two word small compared to the second two and there's even a joke in the film about how stupid the name sounds Although why they would just think the name was stupid when they have an evolved rat teaching four turtles how to be ninjas based upon a book that he finds down the sewer is beyond us.
The film will appeal to younger audiences but seriously annoy fans of the original comics.
In fact the entire plot doesn't make much sense but then it was produced by Michael Bay after all. The villain's main scheme appears to be poisoning New York and then selling a mutagen that cures all diseases. Why not sell it as that in the first place, there's no need to poison anyone. As written and shot the film also had Sacks revealed to be The Shredder but after the negative response to the identity of The Mandarin in Iron Man 3, the filmmakers got cold feet. Cue a bunch of obvious reshoots and voila, an anonymous Japanese actor whose face we never see gets dropped into the film as The Shredder. It's fairly sloppy filmmaking but then they also have the turtles order pizza from Pizza Hut, when they live in New York for God's sake, and a character using a Bluetooth video camera in 1999!
The cast also includes Will Arnett, who should know better, and Whoopi Goldberg, who's probably just glad she's not in Theodore Rex this time. About the only thing that the film does get right is the spirit and character of the turtles themselves, even if they are gigantic over-muscled six-footers in this version. The CG animation is also pretty good and an obvious step-up from a bunch of blokes in suits. The result is a glossy slice of mindless entertainment that will no doubt appeal to its target audience, with plenty of fart jokes and over-the-top action. However fans of the original cartoon series and live action movies will probably be wondering where all the nostalgic fun went. They'll also be wondering what happened to Bebop and Rocksteady who got dropped at the last minute. Come on, who doesn't want to see a mutant warthog and a bad-ass rhino.
You can buy Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on Blu-ray here
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