Hey gang, Valkor here. And as much as I love delving into the past, I’m more of a forward thinker and look to the future for what’s new, up and coming and exciting; whether it be tech, gaming, music, movies - the whole shebang, I’m there. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is a pop culture icon, whose roots, origins and storyline are firmly planted in the past. So when new peeps come along (Michael Bay and co) and decide to step in and “reimagine” the green machine for a whole new generation, we can either accept it as is or harsh on it because it wasn’t what it was. Both of those statements apply to the new film as the live-action/CGI version of the “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” hits the big screen and it does innovate for a better tomorrow but makes me long for the yesteryears. And yet, it’s something kinda special in its own way. Major spoilers ahead folks!
In this new Ninja Turtles film, the turtles – Leonardo, Michelangelo, Donatello and Rafael are brothers who were raised in a lab and given a substance called mutagen along with their “father” Splinter, who is a rat. Set free during a fire, the group lived their lives in the sewers, hiding from human eyes and learning the ways of ninjitsu to protect and defend themselves to those that would seek them harm. At present day, the city of New York is under threat by mercenary organization known as “The Foot”. Just who is the mysterious bunch, no one really knows for sure. But Lifestyle reporter April O’Neil (Megan Fox) is hot on the case. After receiving a tip to head for the docks, she stumbles across a Foot operation. But that threat is thwarted by a mysterious vigilante who shows he has some serious power. The… whatever can toss giant shipping crates with ease and takes out the Foot mob. When the leader of the foot, The Shredder (Tohoru Masamune), is informed of what has happened, he gives the order to take hostages to out this new vigilante that looks to stand in his way. Needless to say that plan is also thwarted, but it gives April O’Neil, who just happened to be on the scene, the opportunity to discover just who New York’s newest hero is.
She discovers it’s the Ninja turtles, whose past is linked to her own as she was the one who sorta raised them in the lab and it was she who set them free duringthe fire. And out to get them (though it’s not known right away) is her father’s ex partner Eric Sacks (William Fitchner), who wants the mutagen that flows through the Turtles blood. Why? So he can use it to make a cure for a virus that he’ll unleash unto the city, in order to make oodles of money. And now it’s up to the Ninja Turtles to step up and save the day.
This new version of the Ninja Turtles, while it does a lot to step away from its comic and cartoon roots, actually dips a lot into the past of both, with a little nod to the 89 film. For instance Vernon Fenwick (Will Arnett) is an original character of the original cartoon series as well as Bernadette Thompson (Whoopi Goldberg), who could be the female version of Burne Thompson. There’s also a scene when the turtles, along with Splinter, are slicing up a pizza and a slice lands on Splinter’s head (happened in the 89 film). So if you’re truly paying attention you’ll find they are plenty of cool Easter eggs strewn about. But does that make for a better film?
Oh and I also wished they hadn’t tacked on the “Teenage Mutant” part when it was originally just "Ninja Turtles". I think Ninja Turtles is rather appropriate name for this new era of Turtles. However I know how fans can be. But I’m just saying, I think for this version, the shorter name works better.
I went into this new TMNT totally expecting to hate on it, but I was quite surprised… I didn’t hate it as much. First up was the look, which was a bit… disturbing at first. I mean these turtles are HUGE and they have human lips! I didn’t think the look could possibly work, but it does. The film is so well paced with loads of action that you could hardly tell they’re CG and you simply accept who they are and what they lok like in the end. Splinter looks great and Shredder, once he’s in the suit, is rather imposing. Though I think all those blades was a bit overkill. Next up is the action, which was BRUTAL!! These new Ninja Turtles hit so damn hard you can feel it. Having that shipping crate tossed at a handful of Foot Soldiers was only the beginning. But the scene where their sliding down a mountain followed by an avalanche, a truck and a bunch of foot soldiers sliding with them in jeeps… you get a taste of it in the trailer, but to see it in full effect is simply intense! Thankfully no blood spewing everywhere, so the kiddies can enjoy it, but damn I wasn’t expecting blows like that, these dudes really hit hard! Next are the jokes from the Turtles themselves, where the majority of the puns go to Mikey - as it should! He is the goof of the group and deserves the best lines. If this film were to fail at Mikey then it would be a complete failure overall. And Noel Fisher, who does the voice, does an amazing job – amazing! The rest of the acting is pretty decent too, even Megan Fox, though at times things can get a little too campy. But it doesn’t hurt the film. But what does hurt the film can be detailed in the next section known as…
I’ve always thought that the Turtle’s origins were pretty simple and while each incarnation does play around from the original Eastman and Laird comic, the basic concept is simple – turtles and rat (or human) are doused with ooze, become mutant fighting machines against Oroku Saki aka The Shredder and they have long standing battles that last for who knows when – that’s pretty straight forward. However, this new film lifts elements from the IDW 2011 comic series where April gets to name the Turtles and Splinter, with the exception of there being no direct link to Shredder, who I would consider “just a threat” in this film – a major threat, but one that could have easily been replaced with anyone from the TMNT rogue gallery, ending with similar results. I know that the ooze and what are influenced by Shredder, but again the same result could be accomplished with any villain in his place. Next, the ultimate goal of the bad guys is to get more money. Money? Really? Such a cliché! Soooooo, total world domination is completely off the table? If it was mentioned by Shredder, I might have missed it, but Sacks specifically says “I’m gonna be rich. Like, stupid rich”, which proceeds after he states the government is gonna send him a blank check for his cure to the virus he'll unleash. It’s just stupid. Next, how the Splinter and the Turtles learn ninjitsu, is just so corny! Come, they learned from a book? Was it just the one book? Were there multiple books? I only saw one, so I assume they learned from that. I get it, their beefy, mutated bad asses who adapt quickly, but come on! Finally Karai is completely wasted in this film – completely! I love Karai and all incarnations of the character, but here she’s just a backdrop, a henchman, limited eyecandy even. In short she’s nothing special and I am really disappointed with that. Maybe in the sequel she’ll get a bigger role? Maybe. But right now her character is wasted in this film.
The Turtles getting injected with Adrenaline; it’s just a mesh of jibberish afterwards.
The new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film is still making the cinema rounds, and if you’re new to the franchise you’ll find something to like about this new film. However if you’re a fan, you’ll find plenty to hate. But for me, it’s all about the action moments, which thankfully is well-balanced amidst the hokey plot, which made the film fun to watch. Am I looking forward to a sequel? Well if it were suddenly scrapped, I wouldn’t be at all upset about it. But until then, I give the 2014 reimagined version of TMNT a 3.5 out of TOV 5 stars. Cowabunga!