Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014) Miller Meter-3/10

Directed By: Jonathan Liebesman

Written By: Josh Applebaum, Andre Nemec, Even Daugherty

Starring: Megan Fox, Will Arnett, William Fichtner, Noel Fisher, Alan Ritchson, Johnny Knoxville, Pete Ploszek

PG-13     1 h 41 min – Action | Adventure | Comedy

I’m going to be a little bit brief with my synopsis on this one because it really just isn’t worth it in the first place, but the good people deserve to know and be warned.  April O’Neil (Fox) is a cunning young reporter chomping at the bit for the next big story in hopes her co-workers will take her seriously.  She’s been following the massive crime wave backed by The Foot clan, a hard-hitting gang lead by The Shredder.  As she gets deeper into the workings of the mysterious gang she finds herself held captive by them in the subway.  To her rescue come our 4 favorite turtles who also just happen to be ninjas.  April forms a friendship and alliance with the turtles to bring down the Foot and Shredder before they destroy the city.  There’s the story.  Let me just say that The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are one of the coolest most badass things to ever happen to cinema.  In 1990 Steve Barron made magic happen when he gave us the first live action version.  The best part of that film was the STORY…the turtles backstory was dark and full of ruin just like the creators intended.  The turtles then matured into each of their quirky characters and brought a perfect balance of humor and depth.  Fast forward to today.  The story of this film was absolutely pathetic.  The turtles’ backstory was one of the dumbest things I have ever seen, and I’ve seen some dumb things.  Rookie script-writers Andre Nemec and Josh Appelbaum certainly lived up to their potential as TV writers.  The story had no substance, it wasn’t emotional, and I felt nothing for characters that I previously loved so much.

NINJA TURTLES

A huge problem with this film is that with Michael Bay behind the scenes we should know that we’re going to get a two hour movie with 20 minutes of dialogue and 1:40 of explosions, lens flare and sunsets with helicopters.  Sadly 4 of the coolest most relatable characters were horribly undeveloped this time around.  There was so much going on as far as action and visuals that each character gets what feels like 10 minutes of actual screen time.  I didn’t know these new guys.  I just kept hoping desperately that they would say something close enough to what I know and love that I would feel better about being there in the first place. No such luck.  Megan Fox as April was devastating.  The girl may be kind of pretty but the truth is she couldn’t act her way out of a cardboard box.  My next issue with the film was the way they destroyed one of the coolest villains of our time.  The Shredder.  He’s a man, in a hard body steel armor suit.  He is not a Transformer!

shredder new

Dear Lord it was the worst thing to happen to the movie.  I swear I can just see how it went down.  Jonathon Liebesman (director, Wrath of the Titans) was running around saying “how are we going to make Shredder cool and modern?” and Michael Bay’s cheap ass says quietly to him when no one is listening… “Dude…make him a transformer…it works…” and BAM!  That’s how we have our new Shredder!  They butchered him!  The comedy of the film fell just as short as everything else.  The TMNT are funny ass dudes.  During this movie I tried SO hard to laugh, I tried SO hard to ignore how absolutely pathetic the script was and just enjoy myself.  I couldn’t. There was one 2 minute scene out of the entire movie that made me laugh, aside from that maybe a handful of chuckles.

TMNT new

I pity the generation of children who grow up with this disgrace, they’re missing out on the real deal that just so happened to come out almost 25 years ago.  It just goes to show that technology, special effects, and explosions are not an adequate replacement for good story telling and character building.  The original may have been limited by underdeveloped makeup and special effects but delivered 10x the emotional and heartfelt experience.  The extreme overuse of flashy CGI and lack of meaningful dialogue literally made it impossible for me attach to any character on a personal level.  When I saw Guardians, the entire theater was full of kids just going absolutely ballistic.  They were having so much fun it was incredible.  The saddest thing about this film is that I was again in a theater full of kids and not a single one was having as good a time…no laughs, no cheers, no gasps….nothing.  I can be disappointed all day and run my mouth on the internet, but I’ll be damned if THIS is what that generation gets as their TMNT experience.  Shameful.  The truth is, I really wanted to like it.  I really wanted to appreciate it as a reboot of one of my childhood faves.  I wanted to believe that it could be done.  I was disappointed, big time, and that’s where the animosity comes from.  To the parents out there-follow my foolproof guide to your child’s happiness:

  1. Go to amazon.com
  2. Add Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990) and the sequel, Secret of the Ooze (1991) to your shopping cart.
  3. Checkout with free 2 day shipping (hopefully you’re Prime members)
  4. Open the movies, put into the DVD player, sit your kids down, push play.
  5. Watch as the magic unfolds.

 

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