Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Not so Cowabunga.
When I was a kid, there’s actually a video of me saying I wanted the Ninja Turtles for Christmas. They’ve been around for…forever, and throughout that time, they’ve more or less evolved. From cartoon, to live action, to CGI, to a variation of live action and CGI graphics. Wherever they were found, kids were sure to love them, because they could connect with this idea of misfit, thrown away teenagers that fight for us in the shadows – and their personalities were also really hip…it’s really no wonder why kids love them so much. But throughout the past few months, I’ve watched every other movie for the turtles, and I couldn’t see a whole lot more than 90’s cheese and bad puns. I had a lot of hopes for the 2014 film, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – and those hopes…they weren’t actually met with open arms.
We have a very basic story here – to give it to you straight – April O’Neil is a television reporter who is simply not taken seriously. She needs her big break in order to succeed in her career. Along come crime-fighting turtle vigilantes who are gunning to take down the ominous Foot Clan. The Foot Clan is more or less your classic Bond villain – trying to take over the world by maximizing popular demand for their product in a very…evil fashion.
There are quite a few flaws that are found in this film, but I want to first focus on the good, because what little there is…shouldn’t be ignored. These are the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the TMNT, made famous by their childlike immaturity while also knowing karate skills. They are, at the bare minimum, cool dudes. Kids can connect with their personalities, and in doing so, have the potential in learning important messages alongside the turtles. That personality that we know and love from the TMNT is still very present. However, that same personality conflicts with almost everything else in the movie.
This is produced by Michael Bay, so expect a lot of serious overtones, explosions, and overacting. That’s all fine, but then you have these turtles acting like children and making a bunch of jokes. The problem with that is the fact that we end up with an imbalanced shift in tone. Serious films can work well if the comedy is stitched in just right…but in my opinion – they were two polar opposites here – and they didn’t mix very well. To make things a little worse – how are we supposed to truly believe these are teenagers? They’re bigger than Arnold Schwarzenegger. Just the fact that they look like massive adults and act like children is another imbalanced element all on its own.
The action and visuals were great, and I never expected anything less. It was top of the art, and choreographed rather well in terms of actions and even camerawork. However, one of the biggest flaws the film had was casting. I wouldn’t say it was horrible casting, but I would say very, very peculiar. Megan Fox never struck me as an actress worthy of a role like April. Her acting here was subpar, and came off as a little too whiny…we’ll just say she was pretty awful. Let me rephrase…she was Megan Fox. Then you have Will Arnett as comedic relief…that’s fine, but I still don’t think he fit very well. Then you have Tony Shalhoub as Splinter…really? Finally. Whoopi Golberg. I won’t even comment on that one.
It’s very hard to put into words how I reacted to this movie. If I could sum everything up – I’d say it was an imbalanced film with great action and visuals, but bad casting and/or acting. All inside a recycled and disposable plot that more or less disappointed me.
You can still tell this is a TMNT movie. The personalities of the turtles are still present, and they still really like their sewer pizza.
As far as films go, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles failed in representing a film with a balanced flow. Instead, you have a movie that jumps between serious, dramatic moments – immediately to immature man-child turtles. They also act way too young for how they were designed – which is bigger than Arnold Schwarzenegger in his prime. You won’t buy that they are supposed to be teenagers, no matter how they act the part.