Director: Jonathan Liebesman
Starring: Megan Fox, Will Arnett, William Fichtner, Noel Fisher
Release Date (US): 8th August, 2014
Company: Paramount Pictures
“So, you’re… Ninja Mutant Turtle Teenagers?” – April O’Neil
“When you put it like that, it sounds ridiculous!“ – Donatello
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles sees the return of a beloved comic-book franchise to the big screen, with producer Michael Bay (The Rock) and director Jonathon Liebesman (Wrath Of The Titans) hoping to recapture some of the magic and nostalgia associated with the movies and TV shows of the 90’s. While investigating the deadly Foot Clan, gutsy reporter April O’Neil (Megan Fox, Transformers) stumbles across four reptilian mutant vigilantes, protecting the city. Their names? Leonardo, Raphael, Michelangelo and Donatello.
Right from the very beginning, this movie gets lumbered with a shallow storyline that ends up being its weakest element. While the classic origins for the turtles are maintained, the involvement of both scientist Eric Sachs (William Fichtner, Armageddon) and April’s father seems like a very contrived plot device. However, the brotherly interactions between the heroes-in-a-half-shell are responsible for
some all of the movie’s best moments.
April’s story is another low point. Instead of focusing on the not-so-intrepid reporter, writers Evan Daugherty (Divergent), Josh Applebaum & André Nemec (Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol) and ought to have devoted a little more time to the movie’s real stars: the Turtles themselves. Other classic supporting characters are also short-changed as a result of this, while the Foot Clan are never truly utilised enough to be considered menacing. Instead they end up nothing more than simple cannon fodder.
“Come with me, I gotta safe place for you to hide. And if you’re thirsty I got a secret stash of orange crush behind the fridge. Don’t tell Raph.” – Michelangelo
On the back of her well-publiced Transformers spat with producer Michael Bay, it was a surprise to many to see Megan Fox take the iconic role of April in this movie. Indeed, the audience are left rather wishing she hadn’t been offered it, thanks to a poorly acted, half-hearted performance that only serves to drag screen-time away from the turtles. Will Arnett (Arrested Development) isn’t much better as April’s sleazy cameraman either.
The big surprise, however, was the movie’s portrayal of the Turtles. Both funny and intensely likeable, the four heroes had great chemistry with one another – thanks, largely, to the performances of their motion-capture actors. Noel Fisher (Shameless) steals the show as Michelangelo, completely overshadowing turns from the ‘big Hollywood actors’ Johnny Knoxville (Jackass) and Tony Shalhoub (Pain & Gain). Tohuru Masamune (Inception)’s Shredder is menacing, but fails to really make much of an impact.
Direction & Tone
On the back of two duds in Battle: Los Angeles and Wrath Of The Titans, there weren’t many people with high hopes for Jonathon Liebesman leading up to this movie’s release. However, the director delivers a much better film here, really nailing the camaraderie and playfulness of the Turtles. The action is pretty solid, but is let down by some sketchy visual effects – which are usually the strongest element of a Michael Bay movie.
- “Aliens? That’s stupid!” – a nice little tongue-in-cheek nod to some of the early rumours floating around about this movie. Thank god this one never came to light.
- While Alan Ritchson’s portrayal of Raph was truly commendable, I strongly maintain that Bay cast (Marky) Mark Wahlberg in the wrong movie this year.
- That elevator scene. Magical. That pizza scene. Magical. There were not enough moments like that in this film!
- He may have been the most entertaining character, but Mikey also looks a bit like a creepy turtle paedo in this movie. I would not have got into any sort of vehicle with him – classic Turtle Van or otherwise.
- Guess what guys, Michael Bay didn’t ruin our childhood! He just kinda… messed around with it a bit without causing any permanent damage.
It’s by no means the train-wreck it could have been, but Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles never really lives up to its true potential either. Megan Fox and a thin story undermine some decent portrayals of everyone’s favourite heroes-in-a-half-shell.