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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014)

DVD Cover (Paramount)
Movie Connections:
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
> Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles:... (1987)
> Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles:... (1988)
> Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles:... (1989)
> Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990)
> Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II:... (1991)
> Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III (1993)
> TMNT (2007)
> Casey Jones (2011)
> Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014)
> Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out... (2016)
Genres / Traits:
Action, Fantasy, Martial Arts, Superhero Film, 3-D
Director:
Jonathan Liebesman Jonathan Liebesman
Starring:
Megan Fox Megan Fox
Will Arnett Will Arnett
William Fichtner William Fichtner
Alan Ritchson Alan Ritchson
Noel Fisher Noel Fisher

5.8 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Review by Crispy
Added: October 05, 2014
2014 had two core franchises from my childhood receiving a brand new movie treatment. The first was Garreth Edwards' attempt to channel Stephen Spielberg with Godzilla, and the second was this latest take on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. To be honest, I didn't have much hope for this, but being as the Turtles all but defined the first five years of my life, I was pretty much obligated to see it.

A vicious crime wave orchestrated by a gang known as The Foot is sweeping New York and fledgling reporter April O'Neil is determined to break the case. Granted, she's constantly being assigned the "froth" stories shown between the actual news clips, but she jumps at any lead that might bring her a real story. Even leads that send her to a shipping yard late at night. Fortunately, her ambitious lack of any common sense has led her right to a Foot robbery, and even more amazing, an unseen vigilante with amazing strength fighting them off. Naturally, nobody believes her story, so she looks for answers the only way she knows how: by putting herself in a hostage situation and hoping for the best. Turns out she gets lucky a second time, and not only is she rescued, but she meets the city's protectors face to face. Who'd have thought that said protectors were four, seven-foot-tall martial-artist turtles? They delete the pictures from her phone and swear her to secrecy before disappearing into the night. What's even more remarkable than meeting these fantastic creatures in the first place is that it jogs something in her memory and she rushes home to look through her late father's old research notes about an experiment involving four baby turtles. Putting the pieces together, she convinces her camera-man, Vern, to drive her out to meet one of her father's old colleagues, and the city's largest financial benefactor, Eric Sacks. She's going to need all of the information on these reptiles as she can get, because they're going to be the city's only hope in the very near future.

While Bay didn't direct this, he did produce it and it seemed pretty obvious from the trailer that he had a lot of influence it. With that in mind, I was chiefly worried that the movie would focus more on April, and the Turtles would be relegated to secondary characters a la Transformers. I know my little synopsis up there was pretty April-centric, but that was just to get the ball rolling. Once the foursome enter the fray, they quickly take over the screen time, and both their action scenes and their jokes quickly won me over. Plus, I really liked the way they looked. Yeah, it certainly took a long time to grow on me. Like everyone else, I despised the redesigned faces and would still prefer beaks to noses, but once they're in motion you don't even notice it that much. No, I'm talking more about their size than anything else. While this has also been a source of contention, it really makes them look like a sheer force as they're mowing down Foot Soldiers. And it really made it terrifying when Shredder was fighting them off without breaking a sweat. Not to be outdone, this might be the first time Splinter gets to really throw down himself, and holy hell is he a bad-ass. Using his tail as a fifth limb, he might have even been more fun to watch than the turtles.

I know you're not going to believe it, but I actually liked Megan Fox in this. Turns out if you give her something to do besides be a piece of vapid eye candy, she's actually up to it. Hell, the sole scene where she was showing off her body was more from a comic Vern's-a-perv angle than the fan-service she's typically known for. I've spoken many times about how annoyed I was that she was cast, but she handled the self-confident, ambitious April just fine. I'm not saying she'll be picking up any Oscars soon, but this might serve nicely to break her out of the typecast and give her more varied roles. The four voice actors who brought the Turtles to life were also well above my meager expectations. Liebesman not only gave each turtle their due identity, but actually gave each one their moment to shine. Yep, even the oft-neglected Donatello gets a few scenes that are all his.

There were really only two main problems I had with this movie. The first one has to do with aesthetics of The Foot. Yes, I already said Shredder's fights were entertaining and that he was a more than threatening villain, but I just couldn't get past how robotic he looked. I understand you want to update him and make him look more menacing, but that doesn't mean they needed to remove the ninja connections. The Foot themselves were even worse. They looked like SWAT member in cheap plastic masks. You want to give them a more tactical appearance, fine, but again, they're ninjas. Make them look like ninjas. The second thing that irked me was how they completely retooled the Turtles' origins. They dropped the alien bullshit they were originally planning, thank God, but now their beginning is tightly related to both Sacks and April. It was just a bit too contrived for my liking. With that said, I fully admit I'm a bit of a purist, and needlessly altering the story in any way is going to annoy me, so this change likely won't bother newcomers to the franchise as much as it did me.

Who'd have thunk it. I walked in expecting to hate it, and walked out waiting with baited breath for the sequel. With Casey Jones and Bebop & Rocksteady confirmed to make appearances, neither five-year-old me or twenty-eight-year-old-me can wait. 8/10.
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