Cotton Reviews Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014)

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Boy oh boy, is the first half complete crap! The filmmakers for whatever reason spent way too much time trying to make the TMNT, like, realistically possible? What a huge mistake. All they did in the original, and far superior, movie from 1990 was present the Turtles, give you a very bare minimum back story, and people bought it. Because it didn’t make you think too much.

The first 35-40 minutes of this movie is spent on the filmmakers struggling to give the TMNT a backstory. And, they even go out of their way to point out that the original Turtles as aliens from outer space idea was “stupid”, as if Mutant Turtles makes any more sense. It doesn’t. And having April point out how stupid it is doesn’t help the movie in any way shape or form. This type of self-depreciating humor de-legitimizes the story, even if it is about Mutant Turtles. SEE! They’ve got me thinking too much! Thanks a lot, Michael Bay. Eat shit and die now!

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The whole thing is based on fantasy. Just stick with the original back story. Turtles fall in a sewer, rat feeds them pizza scraps, mutagen falls in sewer drain, mutagen turns Turtles and Rat into humanoid mutant creatures. That learn karate and become ninjas. Ninjas that love pizza. THE-FREAKING-END! The people watching this thing are not uninitiated and they already buy into the Turtles being Mutant Turtles! And, the audience member who was forced to see it by their kids are bored as crap anyways! Stop it! Get over it! Let’s get on with it! And having April name the Turtles as a kid? LAME! Megan Fox, shut up!

As far as the plot goes, it is non-existent. We get some lame, under developed plot about stealing the Turtles blood to create an antidote for a plague the evil ones are going to infect New York City with so they can get rich. Shredder, who is just there to be the bad guy and is not developed or featured in any meaningful way, and the foot clan serve as mercenaries of sorts (I think?) to ensure that the plague gets spread and they get the Turtle’s blood. You know, maybe if they didn’t waste so much precious screen time trying to decide how the Turtles came to be, perhaps more time could be spent on the Turtles and on Shredder?

As far as the Turtles go, they are the bright spot, whenever they are allowed to be on screen. They really feel like side characters in their own damn movie. The new designs were okay. It took me a while to get used to them, but they are not bad. Each character has a bit of personality in their design concepts. I especially enjoyed the treatment they gave Donatello giving him old fashioned thick rimmed glasses. And, Mikey wearing surfer dude necklaces was also nice. Raph was always the best turtle, in my opinion, and he was the best turtle in this one, too. There are some highly cheesy lines, of course, but there were also several laugh out loud moments. It is, again, a damn shame that the Turtles were forced to play second fiddle to Megan Fox’s limited acting abilities. When she screams “Get up!” or “Shredder!” it is cringe worthy.

If I sound overly negative its because Michael Bay and whoever he got to direct this thing tried their damndest to ruin TMNT. I think the underlying reason is because fans of the old series didn’t like his idea to make them aliens. The “inside joke” about aliens being stupid is proof of that. Spending the entire first half trying to come up with some way to tell an origin story and failing was a huge let down. Just stick with the original story. It worked. Either you buy that there are Mutant Ninja Turtles or you don’t.

TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES
Left to right: Splinter and Shredder in TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES, from Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon Movies.

Alas, the film is saved from total humiliation by the second half. The last 45 minutes or so is basically one long, extended, and fun action scene. From escaping the lab where their blood was drawn to a really well done chase down a snowy mountain, the second half of the movie represents what the entire movie should have been: FUN! Because of this second half, which actually features the Turtles in a meaningful way, it saves this film from a D or lower grade.

I give this film a C-. Because once you get past the first half, it is actually a fun movie. In fact, it would be good if you go straight to scene selections on the DVD or Bluray menu and just start from the middle chapter. The first half makes no sense anyway. If you are a fan of the old series, keep your expectations in check.

 

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