Today’s Movie Review: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014)

Believe me, when I first heard about the Michael Bay-produced reboot of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, I had the same reaction that most of the internet did: how dare he ruin my childhood!?!?* I prejudged the idea of the movie based on the initial rumors: that Bay was going to make them aliens and remove the “mutant” part of the turtles. Had that actually happened, I think my reaction to the movie would have been different.

*Only in the sense that my childhood could be in fact ruined by a movie.

And sure, the secondary backlash after the initial trailer landed with the new look for the turtles should have dissuaded me further, but I wanted to give the movie a chance…unlike what seems like 85% of the rest of the internet, guilty of judging the movie by it’s trailer, or the thinking that explosion master Michael Bay will somehow travel through time and remove my original experience to the original turtle films or cartoon that I grew up with. Despite the horrible reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, I trusted my gut and decided to give it a chance, and while it is not the best movie I have ever seen, it definitely exceeded my expectations.

(Minor spoilers ahead)

April O’Neil (Megan Fox) is a reporter trying to get to the bottom of all the Foot Clan activity in New York, while her bosses at the news station send her to cover stupid human interest stories. After observing some Foot Clan activity being broke up by a vigilante, she tries to get the news to cover it to no avail, mainly because her boss (Whoopi Goldberg) thinks that she is a crazy person.

Meanwhile, Shredder, the leader of the Foot Clan wants to draw out the vigilantes, so they decide to terrorize the subway, hoping to draw them out. April was nearby and decides to stop by and see what’s up. Luckily for her, (surprise!) the turtles show up and kick some Foot Clan ass, saving all the people and tying up the bad guys just in time for the police to show up. April follows the turtles up to the roof and snaps a picture, the turtles tell her not to tell anybody about, delete the pictures, and let her go on her way. She does manage to snap a picture of the turtles flipping away.

After realizing that the turtles were experimental turtles from her father’s lab that she saved as a child, she goes back to her boss the next day trying to explain what’s going on, which only results in her getting fired. She and her cameraman Vernon (Will Arnett) take the information instead to Eric Sacks (William Fichtner), her father’s former boss until an accident at the lab killed her father. The turtles, and their master Splinter, were part of some genetic testing or something and Sacks had thought that the turtles had died in the fire, not realizing that April had instead saved them and released them into the sewer.

April is glad that she is not crazy, but then stuff happens. Sacks isn’t who he appears to be and some turtles get kidnapped. There’s an awesome scene involving a semi tumbling down a mountain, and the turtles get to show off their individual personalities. Shredder shows up and fights some people, and, ultimately, good triumphs over evil as you would expect. It was a better than expected 100 minutes that was fairly true to the turtles of my youth.

Like most movies it is not without its flaws. My main complaint is the lack of back story between Shredder and Splinter. In the original movie trilogy, the origin was that Shredder killed Splinter’s human master, and Splinter clawed Shredder and a long-term rivalry was formed. In this movie, though they fight, there is no pre-established reason as to why they hate each other. Sure, the reasons in the movie make sense up to a point, but without the pre-existing conflict, it removes a bit from the equation.

Other issues are pretty minor in the grand scheme of things. Will Arnett is underutilized, the Foot Clan/Shredder don’t really have much of an origin – they are just there in New York. I’m sure the first sequel will fill in some of the background around Shredder and everything else. Luckily, Megan Fox wasn’t given a whole to do in the movie so she couldn’t really ruin it. The turtles took a little time to get used to, but ultimately their appearance wasn’t all that bad, and they managed to maintain the individual personalities of the turtles, though Donatello was almost a little too nerdy. Hopefully, they throttle back a bit in the future. I guess we’ll find out in future installments.

Nevertheless, ignore the 20% of critics that said the movie was good, and instead rely on the more than 60% of fans that have given the film a chance and actually enjoyed the movie. Seeing the 2014 vintage will not ruin the 1990 version, and those old movies will always be there for you to enjoy for the rest of your life. Just stop hating on the movie if you aren’t going to actually see it.

Until next time…

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