The video review will be following shortly, but for those that prefer text reviews, I am obliging here.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2014 Text review
It seems that life in the movies would not be complete without yet another reboot from an iconic franchise, and with 2014 marking the Ninja Turtles’ 30th anniversary, I suppose it would make sense to give it another lease of life considering how luke-warm the 2007 offering despite how the decent writing and good casting it had.
Under the helm of producer Michael Bay (warning flags are up already) and director Jonathan Liebesman it sets to give a slightly more grounded and realistic approach to the shellsome foursome.
The story is much quicker paced compared to it’s 1990 counterpart as that was very slow to get going whereas this movie doesn’t seem to know the concept of slow pacing, which in itself is a good thing as that keeps the audience’s attention and to keep the suspense going. Although I will say, I did find it very lazy and weak to copy the Amazing Spiderman scene of releasing a toxin into the atmosphere from a New York skyscraper. Fans of the original Turtles animated series from the 1980’s will say that Spiderman was merely copying them, but then I would counteract that point with “how many kids, TODAY, would know about that? 86 Turtles is foreign to them and 2012’s Amazing Spiderman is still fresh to them?” take that as you will.
I was pleasantly surprised that April already has an established backstory with the turtles and splinter as they were her pets as her father and Sacks experimented on them with the Mutogen, which this time around is being used to see the effects it can have in healing humans and wiping out disease.
The mutogen is an alien ooze that mutated the Turtles to their humanoid forms. And if that’s the only thing that is of alien origin and nothing else, then I don’t see any problem with that as opposed to the rather absurd notion before of the Turtles actually being space from themselves.
Other than April O’Neil, Eric Sacks, Vern Fenwick & Raphael, none of the other cast got any notable screen time nor character development. Alan Ritchson was very subtle with his performance as Raphael. No BS, just got on with it. I did like this incarnation of Raph was more venomous and angst than previous versions we’ve seen over the years. He plays the role of an impromptu leader extremely well when he learns of what happened to his Brothers.
Donatello I felt really suffered as a character I didn’t find it necessary nor appropriate to have him laid with so much hi-tech equipment on him from a holograph watch, infra-red googles, solar panels and over-sized spectacles. If the writers really wanted to go the extra length why not also have him wearing a t-shirt saying “I AM A NERD, IS THAT ANY CLEARER?”
Sometimes subtle is better than over exaggeration.
Even Shredder was downplayed to such a point that more of the focus of the antagonists was focused on Eric Sacks as Shredder had probably even less screen time than most of his adversaries.
Speaking of shredder, I think someone needed to have a talk with the art department about subtleties as well because while I will concede that Shredder’s look needed an overhaul from the 1990’s flicks, at the same time they just way OTT with the design as I saw elements of Darf Vader, Skeletor and Megatron. Put those together and you get Darf-Skele-Tron.
Fox didn’t do too bad as April O’Neil. I personally think she was still the wrong choice and someone like Kat Denings would have been more suited, but what would I know? I just do good ideas.
I like Arnett’s comic relief style as Vern Fenwick, where he just tells some good jokes to lighten the mood.
Whoopi Goldberg was just wasted on this movie. She was in this for no more than a coffee break and then we don’t see her again. That said, if she had been removed from this picture altogether, it wouldn’t have hurt the movie at all. That’s not a knock on the Ghost star, that’s just plain fact. She didn’t have any real notable to time get settled as Thompson of Channel 6 news and you just don’t care about her character.
The references are very subtle but not forcefully shoved into your face to where it would be insufferable.
Shredder says “Tonight I will dine on Turtle soup” giving a nod to the line that the late James Avery uttered in the original cartoon series.
Another Easter egg to the 80’s series is Will Arnett saying the line “heroes in a half shell” which as fans of the original series will know that is part of the verse of the opening theme.
As someone who grew up with the original movies and cartoons I found this to be a refreshing experience in being able to brief life into an existing franchise which quite honestly needed an update as there’s only so many times they could have repeated previous formulas for this story without giving it a major overhaul, which for the most part this flick does well. The only real major problems in production I had was the camera at times left you wondering what was going on as it got real shaky in places and it effected the viewing experience. Also, they needed to tone the lens flare use as well. It wasn’t necessary.
I enjoyed it as it was better than I expected. Not perfect, but not awful.