August 10, 2014

Movie Review: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014)

So, I went out to see the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot. The movie was produced by Michael Bay through his Platinum Dunes company (the same company that has given use the remakes of Texas Chainsaw Massacre, A Nightmare on Elm Street, and Friday the 13th). If you look at their track record and think they may be taking the Iback to their dark and violent roots, let me just squash that thought. The movie is also being produced in conjunction with Nickelodeon films and the finished product is definitely geared towards the younger set. This is probably the best direction as most incarnations have had the younger generation in mind, this is decidedly not for the nostalgia seekers hoping the characters of their youth have matured with them.

I am not sure if anything I say will really matter in the big picture. Most folks seem to have made up their mind before going into the theater, for better or worse. Granted, I did not go in with the highest of hopes, but there is always a touch of optimism in the mix for me.

It is pretty clear that Michael Bay exerted some of his will on the film, even serving only as producer, the movie still has that slick, overproduced look and feel we have come to expect from a Bay flick (not unlike the Transformers movies). And it may have been my nostalgia kicking in (which, as earlier stated, has no place in this theater), but I think the movie needs more this:

and less of this:

Now, to be certain, this is not a good movie; however, it is not completely awful. It was mildly entertaining in a forgettable diversionary fashion. The plot, such as it is, finds an evil scientist guy named Sacks (William Fichtner) working with Shredder (Tohoru Masamune) to poison the city and then sell it the antidote. Of course, this is an old plan that had been abandoned when their lab was burned down and all thought lost.

There is a weird circuitousness to the plot, there really is no plot without the involvement of our titular characters. It is a little weird and convenient how all the story elements fit together forming a nearly closed loop. It also makes things feel way too convenient. April O'Neil (Megan Fox) has a familial involvement on multiple levels that are just writing shortcuts to cut down on the need for outside development or explanation.

Well, with the dastardly plot in place, it is up to the joke cracking, bickering Turtles to take to the surface and put a stop to the bad guys plan while also protecting their anonymity. This is no easy task, you know what it's like to be a teenager, right? It's not easy and these guys may have fighting skills, but they often lack the focus and control to pull off heroic acts.

Ah, who am I kidding. I am starting to make it sound like a lazy plot manned with characters of some level of positive interest. That really isn't the case, at least the latter part. The plot does feel a bit lazy, populated with convenient plot points and elements that just click into place. It is kind of a puzzle where outside the box thinking is not welcome, and not one of thos big 7-800 piece jobs either, I am thinking more along the lines of 6-8 pieces, total.

While this is not a movie I can really recommend, I kind of liked Michaelangelo and Raphael. The former was surprisingly funny and the latter, well I liked the jealous tough guy he was. Nothing new for the characters, but they worked well. I also liked Will Arnett who seemed to recognize what he was in and just had a little fun with it and William Fichtner was in full scenery chewing mode.

On the other side of the coin, you have a simplistic tale based on way too many exposition and development circumventing coincidences. There is also this annoying habit of the constantly moving camera, it isn't even they jerky handy-cam, it is the way it is almost always in motion, swirling, or something. Basically, hold still for a minute! Then there is the weird character designs. Splinter was off-putting, and the turtle faces were downright disconcerting.

This is all right:

But they looked more like of:


Scary, right?

Oh yeah, Megan Fox proves to be a terrible actress once again. I feel fairly certain I need not go any deeper into that.

So, while I did not completely hate it, this is not a good movie. You would be better off watching the really good animated feature from 2007.

Not Recommended.

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