"Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles"
Release Date: Aug. 8, 2014
Running Time: 101 minutes
Unless you are blinded by childhood nostalgia, it’s impossible to deny that producer Michael Bay’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot isn’t somewhat of an improvement over the clumsiest executed adventures from the 1990s that featured the pizza-devouring vigilantes. Technology has finally caught up with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. So instead of men hamming it up in Jim Henson-designed foam rubber suits, we now have performance-captured computer-generated turtles that break out their best fight and dance moves with flair and fluidity. Granted, Bay’s turtles look more imposing and monstrous than the cute and cuddly anthropomorphic reptiles of old, but this only make them more badass. Also, this being a Bay comic-book adaptation, director Jonathan Liebesman has the benefit of a $125 million budget. So he’s able to stage humongous Transformers-scale action sequences that the directors who toiled on the previous franchise could never have pulled off on the pittance that had to work with. Bearing all this in mind, this Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles feels very much what we would expect Bay: it’s loud, busy, swiftly executed, and violent to the point that it’s not appropriate for younger kids who find Leonardo, Raphael, Michelangelo, and Donatello as adorable as teddy bears. Not only do the turtles use their ninja skills, katanas, and bo staffs to greater effect than the prior films but bullets bounce off their impenetrable skin and kill several bad guys offscreen. The turtles’ nemesis, The Shredder, now wears an upgraded suit of samurai armor that’s right of Transformers, what with its multitude of blades that’s designed to filet our heroes. Finally, Transformers’ Megan Fox portrays TV reporter and turtles gal pal April O’Neill. Fox and Bay had a falling out, which resulted in Bay dropping Fox from Transformers: Dark of the Moon. Not sure how they patched up their differences, but Fox makes for a plucky April, who is now positioned as an integral part of the turtles’ new origin. Longtime fans may not appreciate the change to the turtles’ origin in much the same way Marvel readers have failed to take to The Amazing Spider-Man’s modifications to the Webslinger’s mythology. By design or coincidence, the turtles’ new origin and the film’s plot unfavorably recall the events of The Amazing Spider-Man, with April and the turtles seeking to prevent The Shedder and a corrupt industrialist (played by an underused William Fichtner) from doing something unspeakable to New York City. Not that discerning preteens just getting into Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles will care too much about this. They will get a thrill out of watching the turtles pummel the bad guys, hurtle down a hill like freestyle snowboarders, and get their rap on. They will leave Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles shouting “Cowabunga!” in unison. The adults raised on these unusual superheroes will come away believing a little less in turtle power.
Aired: Aug. 7, 2014
Web site: http://www.teenagemutantninjaturtlesmovie.com/