The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have been around for countless years. With such a long reign in the world of entertainment came plenty of cosmetic changes to the Turtles’ designs and different takes on their war against Shredder and his Foot Clan. It is now 2014 and a blockbuster reboot has been produced for Peter Laird and Kevin Eastman’s comic creation. Does this film do right by the entire franchise and give viewers the best TMNT film yet?
In some ways, yes. First of all, the film’s visuals must be applauded. New York’s grimy yet always bustling streets look great and give off the perfect aura needed for such a gritty take on the Turtles story. Much was said about how fans didn’t respond too kindly to the new physical makeup of the Turtles, Splinter and Shredder. In this TMNT fan’s opinion, the new redesigns are fine. Seeing each turtle with their signature weapons and the trinkets that give off their personality traits is quite cool. Splinter’s retro design makes a welcome return with a few changes that don’t do too much to alter him for the worst. Master Shredder’s Transformers-like suit looks amazing in action, too. Seeing the Foot Clan wield guns and not getting to see much of Karai in action is a disappointment, though.
Surprisingly, Megan Fox does a great job of playing hard-nosed news reporter April ‘O’Neil. Her passionate mission to get to the bottom of such an unbelievable story gives the film a strong female protagonist to root for. Her partner-in-crime and camera man Vern Fenwick is played by Will Arnett, who provides some funny verbal quips here and there. Not much is seen of Whoopi Goldberg though, who’s role in the film is kind of unimportant for such a big star. William Fitchner comes off so likable then immensely unlikable, which is a commendable trait for his brooding character throughout the film.
The overall plot of the film plays out calmly enough, then it ramps up as soon as the Turtles are fully unveiled. Getting to fully understand the enormity of the Master Shredder and his Foot Clan ensemble is filled with a bunch of tie-in’s to everyone else. April O’Neil’s connection to how the Turtles and their master were born changes up the the origin story so many fans are familiar with, but it’s still easy to follow. The ultimate evil machinations of the entire Foot Clan is a tad bit confusing, though. When you come to find out who’s truly been backing them up, it’s hard to grasp his ultimate goal. There are a few holes present when it comes to making sense of the villains’ plan to harm and rule New York.
While the enemies’ evil plan may lack a bit of sense, the enjoyable action skirmishes should keep you from fretting over them too much. The Turtles are now huge warriors who are capable of dealing out some massive damage. Their Ninjitsu mastery and awesome weapons usage looks awesome on the big screen. You’ll definitely love watching them as they fight in and out of their sewer home. Even more incredible to see go down is the initial encounter between Master Splinter and Master Shredder. And the snowy section that’s been played in the commercials so much? It’s another scene that must be seen to be believed.
It’s fun to see the familiar interactivity between the Turtles and their individual personalities. Michelangelo and Raphael stand out the most. Mikey’s hilarious quips provide more comic relief for the film, while Raphael’s rough and tumble attitude makes his solo run more fun to watch. Leonardo and Donatello play their part, but their performances are overshadowed by their two other siblings. The theme of togetherness is put forward in a great way thanks to the synergy played out onscreen by each Turtle, however.
The film’s camera work hamper some of the more close-up action sequences at times. It becomes hard to follow the Turtles at times due to their large stature and the way the camera is zoomed in a bit too much for my tastes. The fight scenes are fun, no doubt. They would have been a lot easier and more enjoyable if the camera was pulled back just a bit. The final battle between the Turtles and Shredder is proof that widening the viewpoint of everything happening onscreen would have helped a few of the earlier action instances as well.
The Turtles latest foray into theaters provides a solid reboot of their movie universe. It’s high impact action sequences, noticeable nods to TMNT’s more intricate history and classic camaraderie between the Turtles is enjoyable to watch. The somewhat non-sensical villains scheme and close-up camera shots during the fight scenes hurt the film at times, though. All in all, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is worth viewing for hardcore and newbie fans alike.