Movie Reviews

'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles': Turtle-ly flawed

By Wang DexianMovies - 08 August 2014 12:00 AM | Updated 11 August 2014

'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles': Turtle-ly flawed

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Our Rating

2/5 Stars

Cowabunga! Those pizza-loving turtles are back. Their last big screen outing was seven years ago, in the animated and just as creatively titled ‘TMNT’. 

Of course, a much beloved property such as the Ninja Turtles generates much excitement among the set who grew up watching them, but this time, controversy followed.

Firstly, producer Michael Bay and his talk of a change of the turtles’ origins to what would have been “Teenage Alien Ninja Turtles”.

Secondly, the choice of director Jonathan Liebesman, who had previously worked on movies such as ‘Battle: Los Angeles’ and ‘Wrath of The Titans’, did not exactly instil confidence in the hearts of fanboys either. 

Well, enough with the anger and grumblings, now onto the movie. 

In New York City, Shredder's Foot Clan have exerted an iron grip over the city with intimidation and crime.

Megan Fox plays April O'Neil, a budding reporter eager to prove herself to her bosses. Out on a trip to gather more information about the Clan, she witnesses an attack that is intercepted by a group of shadowy vigilantes. No prizes for guessing who they are. 

BRIGHT AND ENTERTAINING

April and the Turtles soon become the city's only hope against Shredder and his diabolical schemes.

‘Turtles’ is a very fun movie. Bright, colourful and filled to the brim with jokes, mainly from Michelangelo and April's cameraman Vern Fenwick (Will Arnett), one cannot deny that the movie tries hard to entertain.

And despite the weird redesigns of the Turtles into tall Incredible Hulk-like behemoths, the CGI looks and feels fitting.

The live-action motion-capture integration seems to have worked well as the turtles move naturally with lots of fluidity. 

However, that's about it for the good stuff. Even though it is not technically a Michael Bay film, problems associated with his work (especially the ‘Transformer’ movies) also rear their ugly heads here.

BAD WRITING 

Firstly, the human characters are kind of “meh”. It's not that Fox, Arnett or William Fitchner, who plays a billionnaire with shady connections, give bad performances. They just fail to elicit any reaction at all. 

The character of April, in particular, has been rewritten from her usual role in the comics and cartoons to form a history and connection with the Turtles, which makes it feel a little too convenient. 

There is also too much exposition in this movie. Instead of showing us the interesting bits, there was too much “telling”.

Want to see how the Turtles handle their powers? They'll tell you and then show you a short training montage. 

Even the dreaded bad guy’s “reveal my masterplan” monologue is not spared.

It is just bad scripting throughout the entire movie, with an ultra convoluted plot that will have you shaking your head. The focus on the Turtles is lost. 

Even though most of the action sequences are great, there are a few where the camerawork just completely overwhelms the viewer.

In the sequence where the Turtles are seen for the first time, there is an explosion of light that almost threatens to give everyone in the theatre a seizure, even if you are not light-sensitive.

There is also shaky footage that brings back nightmares of the ‘Bourne’ series. 

Shredder looks like a worse version of the Silver Samurai suit from last year's ‘The Wolverine’, and even the villain's master plan for domination is reminiscent of that from other movies. 

It is almost as if it was a generic parody of superhero films – specifically ‘The Amazing Spider-Man’ and ‘Batman Begins’ put together.

In the end, the bad writing and the filmmakers' lack of integrity when treating the characters sink this movie. 

The seemingly casual bending of the characters to fit the needs of the mind-boggling plot makes the movie feel disposable, and that is something that cannot be forgiven even if there are amazing-looking visuals. 

‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ is now showing in cinemas


Entertainment journalist Wang Dexian, or just Dex (@dxtehsecks), is a chronic insomniac. His eyes are usually closed, except when he's in the cinema

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

    (2014)
  • Rated
    PG /
    Genre
    Adventure, Animation, Comedy
  • Language
    Eng
  • (8 Reviews)