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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Movie Review: Teenage Muntant Ninja Turtles (2014)

What would you do if you ran into talking turtles? In August 2014, April couldn't believe her eyes, so the talking rat sat down and explained it all to her.

Directed this 101 minute action/adventure/comedy/fantasy/sci-fi is Jonathan Liebesman.

Helping retell an old tale is: Megan Fox as April O'Neil, Will Arnett as Vernon Fenwick, William Finchtner as Eric Sacks, Alan Ritchson as Raphael, Noel Fisher as Michelangelo, Pete Ploszek as Leonardo, Johnny Knoxville as (voice of) Leonardo, Jeremy Howard as Donatello, Danny Woodburn as Splinter, Tony Shaohoub as (voice of) Splinter and Tohoru Mawamune as Shredder.

Something is afoot in New York, and of course T.V. reporter April O'Neil wants to get the scoop! Unfortunately, sometimes getting the story can put a reporter in danger. Luckily in those times of trouble,
New York has someone, or four someones, looking to keep the streets... and the sewers, safe. April saw something unbelievable one night, and now she's on the hunt for a story that no one will believe until they see it for themselves. Little does April know, the story she's digging to uncover will reveal even more things than she thought possible.

Here's something I didn't know, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles started as a comic book that had a 26 year run, from 1984-2010. Two guys named Peter Laird and Kevin Eastman created the well known heroes in a half shell. These teenage amphibian ninjas have been in comics, cartoons, video games and movies. In 1990 we got our first live action Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (TMNT), which spawned 2 sequels. Now technically that makes 3 TMNT movies total, but I try not to think about the 3rd film... unless I have to. Truth be told, the third one should have been lost in that portal of time... and forgotten.

Quick admission before I start. I'm an old school TMNT fan. So I wasn't exactly overjoyed when I heard about TMNT (2014) being made. Matter of fact, when I saw Bay's name attached to the project... I was less than thrilled. I firmly believe that Bay has some sort of revenge bone to pick with me. Not that I've ever met the man, mind you, but revenge is the only thing I can think of. Why else would he constantly attack the joyful memories from my childhood? Like, I don't know...Transformers and now my beloved ninja turtles!  It helped when I found out he was taking the producer role and not the directing one. My point being, it was hard going into this one with an open mind. So, I have to admit, it really wasn't that bad of a movie.

Writers Josh Appelbaum, Evan Daugherty and Andre Nemec came up with a script for this reboot based on characters created by Peter Laird and Kevin Eastman. Yeah they changed some things here and there. For instance, the back story that the 1990 fans are used to was tweaked a bit. Still, even though they took a few different paths they still managed to hit the important spots along the way that make TMNT (that we remember) so cool. Like the importance of family. Raph is still the tough guy that gets tired of his brothers, but as soon as they're in trouble he's right by their side. Although TMNT still carries the fast flipping, fun loving, pizza craving ninjas that just wanna protect the city, I can't say the storyline is all that memorable once it's over. Nothing really stuck with me about it. For the most part, the characters are still the same with slight tweaks or add-ons this time around.
                                                         


As for the playthrough, it was ok. When the turtles were not on the screen everything moved kind of slow. Then the action scenes hit and everything flipped into whirlwind mode. The lack of balance kind of hurt the overall pace of the film and I found myself not getting bored really, but it just didn't hold my full attention. There are a few moments while I was watching that I can only describe as... "What the?! That makes no sense!" However, they used those moments to further the storyline, or make the scene... look cool, I guess. So, I just went with it since I wanted to see what their end game was for the story.

The cast did good, but Fox really wasn't the best choice to carry the lead of O'Neil. Fox just helps keep the scenes low key and bland, even when the scenes didn't call for it. Arnett, as funny as he usually is, didn't really bring anything funny or useful to the table either. Now, the voice work of Knoxville and Shaohoub was a cool surprise. Other than that, I thought the guys that played the turtles did a good job.

The special effects looked great, and the capture motion that was used instead of giant turtle suits this time around looked good and flowed well with the rest of the film. The 125 million dollar budget bought the film a lot of cool stuff. Like the look of the turtles and Splinter, and a (way) overdone looking Shredder. Seriously, I don't know who's bright idea it was to super charge Shredder into some power armor looking thing with fan blades on his arms. When Shredder was on screen (as a fan) it was like staring at a shiny train wreck that you couldn't look away from. By the way, that wasn't a complement, Liebesman. However, Lula Carvalho did capture some great scenes with the cinematography.

Overall, yeah it was a fun movie and the kids will definitely get a kick out of it. I will warn you (as an adult) don't go into this one expecting the old school turtles we remember, nor anything remotely close to rocket science to come exploding off the screen for the story. Just sit back and watch the next generation of TMNT being introduced to the kids and listen as they laugh. All said and done, everyone will have had a good time.

Side note, since we live in a time when almost no movie can be made without a sequel you can expect this one to be getting one in 2016.

It's rated PG-13 for violence.

Even though this one is missing Vanilla Ice yelling "GO NINJA GO NINJA GO!", I'll still give it 3 stars.


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