Oh Michael Bay…..After four Transformers films you should really know what to expect from him in film from now on. Little to no character development, little to no character at all, weird stupid humor, baysplosions, but good action and set pieces.
Now before we get to the review, there’s a bit of history to cover with the Turtles.
This is a thirty plus year old franchise that started as a comic, then became toys, then became the-for whatever reason-MUCH BELOVED cartoon of the 80s-then live action 90s films-then another cartoon in the 2003-THE BEST ninja turtle iteration in my opinion….Then another cartoon in 2012, and finally the Bayturtles of 2014.
The plot of this newest iteration is that when the Foot Clan-this time as some sort of militia?-try to take over the city, the Turtles team up with reporter April O’Neil-played by Miss Megan Fox-to try and save the city.
- The TURTLES
- Everything about these guys is SPOT ON. They did their research-there’s a lot of it to go through trust me-and got the personalities down. Their design is a bit wonky at first, but it grows on you. They’re easily the tallest and beefiest of the turtles to date. Certainly much taller than my 2003 counterparts. But like my 2003 counterparts, they each have distinctive character traits-aside from their gear-that sets them apart. It’s a bit annoying to me that Donatello has all of his science gear ON his person all the time. Even if you’re a newcomer to the series, they make it clear who’s who on the team. The movie mostly focuses on Raphael out of all the Ninja Turtles, so the others don’t get as much limelight but for what they are, I enjoyed the heck outta them.
- The MEGAN FOX
- Yep…Leave all the comments you want but I liked Megan Fox here. She actually disappeared into April several times throughout the film. Especially in the beginning- you really get the feel that “okay this is April this is what she’d do.” She’s doing these kind of wonky stories and isn’t happy about where she is. She knows she’s meant to do bigger things and the way she peruses this new story about the Turtles is definitely April to a T. I actually miss the scientist April from the 2003 show though; since that was her way into the Turtles’ world-finding out about Stockman’s plan and fleeing for her life ending up in the sewers, being rescued, and becoming their eyes in the city. But the reporter April is the OG April so again, for what it is, isn’t not that bad. At times, you can see she really cares about this. Others…less so.
- The ACTION SEQUENCES
- I could really gush about the action in this for days. While the film at times suffers from unbelievable shaky cam-gross-the action is pretty impressive. Particularly the mountain chase scene. Perhaps because it wasn’t just the Turtles vs the Foot, but it was also Turtles vs Foot vs Gravity. And with all of those elements it makes for a great fun action scene. The way the Turtles are first introduced-fighting the Foot in the subway-is also very good. They kept to the shadow rule of how ninja operate, and were quick and efficient in getting in and out…Only to get caught by April later. Another good action scene was the final fight between the Turtles and the Shredder. Just like in the comics, and 2003 version, this Shredder whoops butt for days. The turtles aren’t a match at first. In fact, it’s April who saves the turtles-and Splinter-not once but twice in this film. She’s definitely a proactive protagonist rather than a passive one.
- The ELEVATOR SCENE
- Not much to say about this particular scene other than if the movie focused more on moments like this between the Turtles….It wouldn’t have been hated on AS much….I think. It was just a fun little moment between the brothers before what could’ve been their final mission. And it was also a nice instrumental call back to a certain….Ninja rap if you will. And OMG IT’S A FREAKING STILL SHOT. REMEMBER THOSE HOLLYWOOD?!
While there are a few good things in this movie….they don’t outshine the bad unfortunately.
- The SPLINTER
- Splinter in every iteration-from the toons to the comics-is seen as a wise mentor, a father figure to the Turtles. While they got the “father figure” part down-if only by mentioning it….Splinter was hardly in this one and when he was he felt like a jerk. The one cool scene with him was his fight against the Shredder, in which he actually uses his tail as a weapon, which he has done on occasion in the 2003 cartoon. I’m not really sure how it can grow in length or not though. Also his design isn’t really that good.
- The CINEMATOGRAPHY
- Wow…..I hate shaky cam. I really do. And there’s almost an overabundance of it in this movie. While there are some cool shots-good extreme close ups of the Turtles’ weapons, good close ups of the Turtles themselves….for the most part the aesthetics were bland and boring. Except again for the mountain chase scene. With Michael Bay CGI he always seems to like that shaky cam, as if to try and distract us from the fact that yes these Turtles are CGI. Also he does this “Trick” where he constantly wants the camera to move, as if what’s going on is important but there’s nothing important going on. It’s an old trick and I’m hoping more people will catch onto this.
- The SCRIPT
- At times the script feels natural, like in the beginning it was very tight, very real. The conversations between Vern and April felt like things characters would say, Whoopie Goldberg’s character felt like a character, yet at other times….it just feels like a lot of exposition. I’m hoping this is fixed in the sequel. Dear Hollywood…we don’t need everything spoon fed to us. We ARE smarter than you give us credit for. The script’s not BAD but it’s not good either….
- The SHREDDER
- Remember when the trailers were first out, and the casting was first out, and the Shredder was gonna be William Fitchner and everyone freaked out and he was recast? Almost like an afterthought? Yep. That’s when the internet should just…keep it’s mouth shut. Fitchner was a better villain than the Shredder. Simply cause he was yucking it up and having fun with the role he was given. “I’m gonna be rich. Like…Stupid Rich.” The Shredder just felt THERE. And for whatever reason he was the only one who spoke Japanese. He never really spoke that language in the 2003 cartoon but I guess they wanted to hammer it in that “this is the Shredder guys we promise.” He almost takes a backseat until he fights the Turtles and Splinter, and then again takes a backseat until the final fight. Also his suit is pretty much a mini-Transformer and doesn’t look like a Shredder suit.
- The CONNECTIONS
- With characters and interactions, you have to make sure there’s a REASON for them to all be there. April is always-whether she’s a teenager or a scientist or a reporter-the Turtles connection to the human world. To topside New York. She has to have a reason to be with them in the first place. Shredder has to have a reason to hate Splinter and go after the Turtles. In the 2003 cartoon, it was cause Shredder killed Splinter’s owner or master. Splinter escaped and somehow got into contact with the mutagen. Here, they try to give them a connecting backstory, but at times it felt forced. There’s a connection THERE but it is VERY THIN at best.
Overall, the film isn’t TERRIBLE like people like to make it out to be. It’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. You have to know what to expect with anything regarding this franchise. It’s fun, it’s stupid, it’s serious, it’s silly. What draws people to this franchise is the characters; the Turtles themselves. We see ourselves in the Turtles-the tough loner, the goofball, the shy quiet scientist, the leader. There are things the movie gets right; the action, the dialogue at times, and the Turtles especially. There’s enough froth in this movie to keep the right people entertained at the least. For me, I was surprisingly entertained and had a good time with it. The more I watch this movie, the more I end up liking it. It has good moments, mainly thanks to Michelangelo. Also gotta give it credit for ending on like a nice light note. Good job Hollywood you’re learning….Not all action films have to be dark and dreary after a certain horrible event that happened in 2001.
I’m going to give TMNT2014 a 2.5/5. It’s right under an average movie. It’s not terrible, I had fun.
Comment Question: Who’s your favorite Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle? Mine…Donatello forever.