7 & 7 Review: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014)
For any child born in the 80s, it’s hard to imagine a life where you weren’t swept up in Turtle-Mania. First with the animated series in the late 80s, and then the trio of movies in the early 90s, the Ninja Turtles had taken over the world. Since the peak of their popularity, the Ninja Turtles have popped in and out of public consciousness.
More than 20 years later, we’re on another Ninja Turtles resurgence, and much like the first time, it starts with a highly acclaimed animated series and followed up with a live-action movie. Do the Ninja Turtles still possess that magic spark on the big-screen?
- The Ninja Turtles – A lot has been said about the Turtles’ design in this film, and truth be told the movie does nothing to change that. There isn’t even a reason given why they are such hulking creatures. On the other hand, while they may not look like the Turtles we love they retain and enhance their core personality. With Mikey being the real star of the film between his humor, crush on April and pretty damn cool skateboard.
- The April Movie? – While TMNT may be the name, the crux of this story centers on April O’neil even going as far back as the birth of the Ninja Turtles. On the bright side, I felt that Megan Fox did a decent job in the role.
- The Newsroom – That said, her plot/role in this film is so bizarre. She starts off working for Channel 6 News which is of course a callback to the animated series, and that plot thread really goes nowhere before it is dropped. Then we learn that her father was close to Eric Sacks, and was there her father died. And that she happened to have 4 pet turtles and a pet rat, and you wouldn’t believe what their names were!
- The Shredder, The Foot and Kirai – The Foot Soldiers get a modern make-over. Instead of being a gang of ninjas or even a group of street thugs with proper training, the Foot in this movie are a personal military squad who aren’t opposed to using firearms. Quite often. Their leader, in this version, is more Kirai than it is the Shredder, but she is given such a weak role in this film its a question as to why they even included her. The Shredder is an interesting beast in that they made him this massive, hulking costume that just looks ridiculous, but it’s actually pretty damn awesome. It makes for some of the best fights in a movie this year and has more than one trick up it’s sleeve.
- The Action – The true highlight of this film is the action, and let’s be honest with Michael Bay involved in some capacity, it was gonna be. The two highlights for me was the thrilling chase down a mountain side, and the first encounter in the sewers. Making the Ninja Turtles, Splinter and Shredder CG allowed for a lot more fast-paced and brutal fighting. Some imaginative use of each character’s respective weapon and their animal designs also freshens up the Ninja Turtles format.
- The Plot – Let’s be honest here, it’s super paper thin. Almost everything in this movie neatly ties together so that the creative bunch didn’t have to think of any clever new ideas. April, Shredder, The Ninja Turtlers, Splinter are all connected on some level, and not even in the traditional manner. The villain literally spells out his plan to the Ninja Turtles so that the audience understands the stakes during the climax, and even the climax’ falling action is explained thorough to the audience. I wouldn’t go in expecting Shakespeare in the writing either.
- Production Values – The movie looks great. You can see the money on the screen. The music doesn’t fare as well. It felt so generic and empty, I’m fairly certain I had the score in a dozen other movies. The title tune though isn’t for me, but heard a lot of movie-goers remark on how catchy it was so who’s to say.
Review: 5 (out of 7) It’s difficult to separate my love of Ninja Turtles from any one entry. While it’s easy for me to note something like Next Mutation or TMNT III to be bad, it was also something I watched for quite some time. That said, after my first viewing of TMNT 2014 I came away rather impressed. And would recommend checking it out for a good time at the cinemas.