Regular Dude Movie Reviews: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

There are two ways for me to look at the latest iteration of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to hit the big screen:

  1. As a 35-year-old who still remembers watching the cartoon and enjoying the first and second cinematic incarnation of this quartet, and
  2. As a 35-year-old who went to see the 2014, Michael Bay-guided version of the beloved ’80s and ’90s heroes.

Depending on how you approach this film, you’re either going to be woefully disappointed or mildly entertained. In case it wasn’t clear, moderate enjoyment isn’t a ringing endorsement, but that probably won’t stop the current re-imagining of Leo, Donnie, Raph and Mikey from making beaucoup bucks at the box office over their first weekend and several more afterward.

Accept it now: people are going to see this movie in droves, it will do big bank and there will be sequels, plural. Transformers stopped being fun after the first installment and there have been three more since, all of which did really, really well. The Turtles should follow suit.

I completely understand why hardcore fans that fit category No. 1 above violently dislike this movie—it is a grand departure from the origin story everyone is familiar with, April O’Neil is portrayed by Megan Fox, and the Turtles themselves look more like miniature versions of The Incredible Hulk with shells on their backs. Wait until you see some of the close-ups on them and you’ll understand.

Instead of sticking to the story that carried the first movie back in 1990 and the comics and cartoons before that, the screenwriting trio of Applebaum, Nemec, and Daugherty threw in various wrinkles—some completely unnecessary and others that were completely harmless.

For the people that grew up with the Ninja Turtles, the biggest frustration is going to be that everything about this film is just too 2014 and too Michael Bay, even though it’s Jonathan Liebesman who actually sat in the director’s chair. Shredder is a cross between the Silver Samurai from last year’s The Wolverine and one of Bay’s Transformers than the karate master that got scratched by Splinter and put a couple blades on his hand we’ve known this whole time, and that complete departure from what could have made this a nostalgic romp down memory lane is going to ruin it for a lot of people.

All that being said, if you simply go into it knowing that the guy who brought Optimus Prime to the big screen and likes to blow stuff up in spectacular fashion is behind the project, it’s not a bad way to spend an hour and 40 minutes. It’s not great either, mind you, but it’s not as terrible as some people have declared it to be.

How Megan Fox continues to be a thing is beyond me—it’s like people have never seen a good looking person before and therefore are content to excuse her complete lack of believability on screen. Will Arnett is here as Vern Fenwick, the cameraman with a crush to Fox’s wannabe journalist and I’m left wondering why we ever thought Will Arnett could be more than a solid piece of a quality ensemble? The material isn’t great, but still.

The CGI and action sequences are a bit over-the-top, but I can see how kids that are just now getting into the Ninja Turtles or have been down with the teenage team of heroes for a couple years will enjoy the rock’em, sock’em, shell-shock’em nature of the flick. There are a couple mild laughs, one gratuitous “Hey look—it’s Megan Fox’s ass!” shot, and nothing offensive enough to make you want to leave the theatre.

They just isn’t enough to make you want to tell your friends to go see it either.

Previous Regular Dude Movie Reviews:

Guardians of the Galaxy
Get on Up

E. Spencer Kyte

E. Spencer Kyte is a freelance journalist based in Abbotsford, British Columbia, where he lives with his wife and dog. In addition to his work here, he writes about sports for Complex Canada and covers the UFC for various outlets. His mom also still tells him what to do on a regular basis, even though he’s nearly 40. He tweets from @spencerkyte.

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