Today’s piece is a review of the new Michael Bay film interpretation of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles from Brain at GrizzlySquid. I’m a huge fan of Brian’s review style, and find myself agreeing with his opinions, even if I’d disagreed with them previously. Check out his other reviews by following the link above, but please enjoy his latest with us here.
Warning! Contains spoilers!
Remember the days when news of a cherished childhood franchise getting a movie wasn’t met with a mixture of scepticism and excited expectation? Those were good times. But since then many a fandom has been burned on the altar of cinema while the unwashed masses were left clutching shattered dreams of what could have been. It’s all about big money. It’s not personal. But when Darth Bay washes away your pristine action figures and first edition comics in a tsunami of Hollywood cash it bloody well feels personal. You have to grow some thick skin and remember that you have gone to the cinema to be entertained, not to have your ego placated. Now that that baggage is out the way – show time!
April O’Neil (Megan Fox) is a Channel Six reporter with nothing going for her except a shaky camera phone and super model level good looks. She is desperate to break the story on a group of illusive outlaws calling themselves ‘The Foot’. As the Federal government shows no sign of helping the nation’s largest city deal with a paramilitary terrorist group acting with impunity, it falls to big business to assist the NYPD. Eric Sacks [Warning! Obvious villain alarm!] steps forward to pledge support from his bioweapon and cybernetic warfare company. But before he has to sign any cheques the Foot Clan suffer several unforeseen setbacks. Four unknown vigilantes have scuppered the baddies on several occasions while leaving nothing but some anime inspired graffiti as a calling card. Turns out these masked heroes are none other than four mutated turtles, raised in the sewers by a ninja master rat. Realising April to be the young girl who saved them from a burning lab, they team up to defeat the Foot Clan and save New York from a robot samurai called Shredder. After that it all goes a bit CGI and big budget with inevitable links to a future sequel.
The movie title promises four things so let’s work through the list;
Turtles – Probably. I couldn’t tell you the difference between a turtle and a terrapin but I will give the film makers the benefit of the doubt.
Ninja – Yes. Splinter the rat taught himself Ninjutsu thanks to a handy booklet thrown into a sewer and from this he instructed his adopted children. If it had been a Queensbury boxing pamphlet, things could have been very, very, different.
Mutant – Hell yes. Our protagonists are eight foot tall, bipedal, talking turtles. What is interesting here is that the chemical used to cause this transformation is key to building a super bio weapon. For reasons.
Teenage – most defiantly. Although this Turtles movie breaks our heroes down into high school stereotypes rather than actual characters. Leonardo is the parents favourite and jock. Raphael is the rebellious Kevin and Perry type. Donatello must therefore be the nerdy computer geek. Finally, that leaves Michelangelo to be the one with ADHD.
But was it fun? The movie isn’t so much action packed as it is action smeared. Don’t get me wrong – lots of bad guys get messed up, but I’m struggling to remember a particularly impressive fight scene. It does that block buster thing where most of the action is too fast to follow or takes place in semi-darkness. Partly this is caused by robbing ‘The Foot’ of their ninja heritage. Rather than set piece melees, the Turtles must dodge between mussel flashes and machine gun fire. Paradoxically, this removes all sense of threat as bullet holes are a lot harder to shrug off than the odd kick or punch. Despite this the matchup between Shredder (the robot samurai) and Splinter (the ninja rat) is pretty sweet. It’s a classic old vs. new with Splinter delicately tidying away his geta and reverently unsheathing a katana while Shredder powers up Stack industries newest suit of knife throwing robot armour. Why would Stacks industries even build such a thing? I bet there were a few marines in the audience wishing they had had suits like that in Fallujah.
Now that I have brought up the subject of violence it might be time to add a fifth descriptive note to our heroes. They might be teenage, mutated, ninjas and or course turtles but they can now pull off psychopathic. While they mostly smack up and knock out ‘The Foot’ in each encounter, on several occasions the Turtles flat out murder some of the villains. This even happens on one occasion when the heroes realise the baddies are using none lethal weapons! I’m not opposed to the idea of whacking hoodlums but it’s a little disconcerting that our teenage protagonists don’t even bat an eyelid (do turtles have eyelids?) at taking human life.
Giant turtles and talking rats wouldn’t be weird if there wasn’t anyone to point and scream. The human characters do a fine job of helping/hindering the heroes. Arguably, April O’Neil is actually the main character and Megan Fox carries it well. Will Arnett nails the part of funny cameraman side kick and William Fitchner rocks it out as the evil Eric Sacks. Fundamentally, the human characters ground the movie in a vital way – they constantly remind us that the entire premise of the film is ridiculous. This could have been handled inappropriately. It’s a little inconsiderate for a movie to become a roast of its source material. Rather, its handled quite fittingly with enough gags to be funny and not discourteous.
‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ is as fun as a 99 cheese pizza. Enjoy it with friends for a significantly better experience.
I give ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ three Brian faces out of five.
A massive thanks to Brian for letting us publish his review to our site.
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