Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014)

For anyone with far too much time on their hands, here are reviews for the previous Turtle-tastic flicks.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret Of The Ooze.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III.

Yes, it's yet another reboot for our heroes in a half-shell. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have had a long, fruitful life in various guises, from their comic origins to the movies to the cartoon show to lunchboxes, toys and other merchandise, and I can't see that stopping any time soon. Having said that, things didn't look good for this movie. The very first trailer was received with a large amount of disdain, and outright hatred in some quarters. Michael Bay was producing (allowing for more people to rant, once again, about him somehow being the most evil thing to happen to movies since pan & scan). And the director was a man who can claim that The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning remains his best movie. Throw Megan Fox into the mix (hey, I like her, but many don't) and you seem to have a recipe for disaster.

April O'Neil (Fox) is a reporter who seems to be stuck with the lighter items, despite working hard to pick up a serious news story. She thinks she may have something special on her hands when she sees some vigilantes taking on the violent Foot Clan, trained baddies who have been terrorising the city. Unfortunately, when she sees them up close she sees four large turtles. Nobody is going to believe her, of course, but that doesn't stop her from pursuing the story. Accompanied by a cameraman (Will Arnett), April heads along to visit local celebrity business mogul, Eric Sacks (William Fichtner). And then Shredder pops up to cause even more trouble. Fights happen. There are big action moments. And viewers may roll their eyes, as I did, at a section of the film showing how the turtles developed into the teenage mutant ninjas that we now know them as.

There are one or two things that this film does get right. First of all, the human cast works well. Fox is a decent April O'Neil, and her character is pleasingly proactive throughout the movie, Arnett is always good fun (and provides some amusement here), Fichtner is great, and it was good to see Whoopi Goldberg back in a major release, albeit in nothing more than a cameo role. Tohoru Masamune doesn't do too badly as the main, famous villain, while Minae Noji somehow makes a good impression as his main henchwoman, despite being treated quite badly by the weak script.

Some of the action in the first half of the movie works well. People will undoubtedly complain about the levels of lighting and the editing, but the film IS showing characters who are ninjas. The clue is there in the title, making the flurried fighting under cover of darkness perfectly acceptable, and enjoyable.

And then we have the runtime. At about 100 minutes, approximately, this manages to distance itself slightly from the modern trend of the blockbusters that run for at least two hours. Well, it WOULD, if it didn't feel like a much longer movie, thanks to the interminable dullness of it all.

That's all I can think of. A few of the lines will raise a smirk, but just as many will raise groans from viewers (both familiar and unfamiliar with the characters). The script, by Josh Appelbaum, Evan Daugherty, and Andre Nemec, feels as if it doesn't know what it wants to be. A fun film, in line with the past movies that many enjoyed, or a serious reboot, adding a sharpness and grit to the characters. It subsequently fails to be either.

Jonathan Liebesman directs with some competence, I guess. But he seems to be just as unsure of how to handle the material as the writers. Some of the rapport between the main characters does work, but an awful lot of it just falls flat. And as for the big set-pieces in the second half of the movie. Unfortunately, I think they're some of the dullest and most irritating that I've sat through in some time (in a mainstream cinema release, anyway). Everything soon starts to become tiresome, as those making the film opt to please the audience by just throwing more and more effects and noise onscreen, and hoping that something sticks.

Symptomatic of everything that's wrong with modern, soulless, cinema at its worst, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has already been successful enough to have a sequel greenlit. Which makes me incredibly sad, despite the fact that there are a lot of other world problems I should be focusing on.


Stick with this collection instead - http://www.amazon.com/Film-Favorites-Teenage-Turtles-Collection/dp/B00H14U45Y/ref=sr_1_4?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1408185651&sr=1-4&keywords=teenage+mutant+ninja+turtles+movie

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