The turtles are back and while they remain comical as ever, they take being ninjas more seriously and are a bit more violent than past iterations.
Review (with Spoilers)
Growing up in the 90s meant amongst the many cartoons you watched, there was also the live action shows like Power Rangers and watching the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on repeat. Fast forward 2 decades after the last live action movie and the boys return, in CGI form, and they lose some of their goofiness and sort of inherit a post-Christopher Nolan’s Batman world. One which has them look a bit more frightening than corny; fight scenes which not only may make you flinch a bit, but show people possibly getting hurt; but still keeping the spirit of the original through showing that, in the end, the turtles are just a bunch of teenagers trying to make their father proud.
Characters & Story
A young reporter named April O’Neill (Megan Fox) is trying to transition from doing fluff pieces to serious journalism. Something that she thinks she can do if she breaks a story on this rising gang called the Foot Clan. But between a lack of faith from her cameraman Vernon (Will Arnett), and her boss Bernadette (Whoopi Goldberg) not taking her seriously when she claims to have witnessed not just the Foot Clan stealing from cargo containers, and vigilantes fighting them, she is nearly laughed out of her job.
Unbeknownst to her, though, at first, below in the sewers lays a rat named Splinter (Tony Shalhoub) who has spent his life raising 4 turtles as his own, and training himself, and them, to be ninjas. One being the tech ninja Donatello (Jeremy Howard); the silly, and very comical, Michelangelo (Noel Fisher); The would-be leader of the group Raphael (Alan Ritchson); and his 2nd in command Leonardo (Johnny Knoxville). Together, these brothers have to work together as Shredder (Tohoru Masamune) tries to rise back in prominence and take over New York. But with Raphael talking about going solo, partly due to his bickering with Leonardo, will the brothers stay one cohesive unit long enough to protect and save the city?
One of the good things about living in a post-Christopher Nolan Batman world is that it makes it so it feels like all your childhood favorites are growing up with you. For with Nickelodeon being the type of company which somehow balances making children’s entertainment, and yet not forgetting about teen and adult viewers, it makes this film quite entertaining. For example, unlike in the original trilogy, I got an emotional response from this. For there is really a strong focus on family bonds and how the turtles rely on each other, and Splinter, and the dynamic makes some of their dire challenges something which can get you teary eyed.
Then when it to the action, this film blew me away a bit. For unlike Guardians of the Galaxy, the fighting didn’t look WWE style where everything was planned and choreographed to the T. Be it because of the use of CGI or perhaps better stunt men/ motion-capture performers? I don’t know. Either way, the scenes, especially when Shredder was fighting, really brought the idea that these turtles aren’t some god-like force which undoubtedly were going to defeat Shredder. For moments I was actually able to forget I know the ultimate result as Shredder really took it to the team.
Leaving one last thing to praise: the jokes. Now, I only laughed 12 times but I was pretty much smiling throughout because between Michelangelo and Will Arnett to a point, this film is very comical. Most of the laughs though come from Michelangelo trying to woo April, as well as the general way people act around April because she is attractive. Reminding me, despite Megan Fox perhaps not being known as the most talented actresses out there, she does make for a decent protagonist and even feels more developed than most women get to be in action movies. She won’t make you tear up or anything like that, but she does show she is worth her salary in my opinion.
Leading us to talk about the minor issues, for me, when it comes to the movie. Such as Splinter, for some reason, he seems to be the only one who speaks Japanese out of his whole crew, which I thought was strange. Then comes the issue of Shredder’s lack of ambition which reminded me of Dr. Evil, from Austin Powers. You see, Shredder’s goal in the film is to take over New York with this toxin, and considering how the toxin was to be airborne and Shredder had the antidote, his ambition of taking over New York City just seemed so minuscule to me.
Overall: Worth Seeing
Admittedly, nostalgia is what tips this from being TV Viewing and being labeled Worth Seeing. For while the criticism is mostly just nit-picking, the turtles definitely do feel inspired by the times, and while the inspiration does well for the movie, I do feel like it sort of makes it so it loses its ability to be for kids in the process. Though with kids nowadays being different from when I was growing up, maybe this does fit for my current age range, and this up and coming generation. Either way, with good laughs, superb action, and a nice heartfelt story about the importance of family, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles returns to the big screen and definitely feels like it warrants a sequel.