Thursday, August 14, 2014

'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' review

Michael Bay gets a lot of hate from people on the internet, but I've always been a strong supporter of his films. The Transformers films were part of my childhood and even today, I still like Bay's exciting, crazy style that he brings to each one of those films. And that's why I had some optimism for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. While TMNT was not directed by Bay, it was produced by him and still is very much a Michael Bay movie. However, this isn't Transformers. Ninja Turtles is awful, poorly made garbage with a meaningless plot, ugly effects and non-stop shaky cam that will leave you with a headache. It's almost astonishing how terrible this film is.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is more about April O'Neil (Megan Fox) than the Turtles. The film portrays April as a real reporter who's been stuck doing light and fluffy stories for a news channel with her cameraman Vern (Will Arnett). She's sick of it and wants to do stories that truly matter, especially ones involving the Foot Clan, the gang of mercenaries who have been terrorizing New York for a long time. One day, April sees a Foot Clan attack that is prevented by some vigilante and she instantly becomes interesting in this story. Eventually, April realizes that there are four vigilantes and that they're actually giant turtles who do karate. There are all these different tie-ins to April's past and a plot involving scientist and philanthropist Erin Sacks (William Fichtner). It all culminates in a giant battle between the turtles and the evil Shredder.

Odds are that kids will like this film (for whatever reason). There were children in my theater who audibly shouted stuff like "Cool!" and "That's awesome!" during the movie. I have no idea why, but they were really into this movie. I, on the other hand, sat in the theater dumbfounded throughout this entire movie. I was just shocked how bland the film was, how anticlimactic the action was, how dumb the humor was. This is just a bad movie, plain and simple. The human interactions are dull and tiresome and the Turtles aren't even that entertaining. I was hoping for a decent movie, but instead, I got a flat out terrible one.

This movie makes its first mistake early on when it decides to make April O'Neil the main character. She has more screentime than the Ninja Turtles and is supposed to hold the film together. And she's boring. There's nothing interesting about the character. Megan Fox is very pretty, but she's terribly miscast and not very good in this movie. The character of April O'Neil has way more weight than it should. I wish that the movie had just focused on the Turtles instead, because they're the only ones that are even remotely entertaining.

The rest of the human cast is rounded out by quality actors who end up doing rather mediocre work. Will Arnett, a comedian that I enjoy very much, is actually pretty decent as Vern. It's not a great performance, but he's good enough. Whoopi Goldberg makes a brief appearance as April's boss and adds nothing to the movie. William Fichtner is good as always. He's probably the standout of the cast, playing a very typical Bond villain type.

The Turtles, Splinter and Shredder are all CGI creations and the animators have varying degrees of success. The robo-Shredder armor is really, really awesome, but Shredder is a weak villain with absolutely no motivation whatsoever. The Turtles are strangely live-like and have personalities that are fully realized on screen. But whoever designed Master Splinter should never work in digital effects again. Splinter is a ghastly-looking creature that is incredibly hideous and tough to look at. He looks slimy, grimy and really nasty. It's just terrible.

Plenty of movies have so-so performances and mediocre CGI and still end up being entertaining. That's where TMNT fails. There is very little in this movie that is even remotely amusing and that's where it fails. The action is often briefly electric, but it is so poorly filmed that it makes you want to gouge your eyes out. Director Johnathan Liebesman just shakes the camera around a lot and it makes for an annoying experience. Plus, all of the action scenes are truly dull. There's no energy to them. It's just people that you don't care about fighting and you've seen all of this before.

That's truly the biggest problem that this movie runs into: it's incredibly, painfully, excruciatingly boring. This is a movie so dull and so bland that you will sit in your theater in shock. There's no energy, no personality, no excitement. It's just a brainless, tedious film from start to finish. There were little moments where I was entertained. For example, the first fifteen minutes hinted at a goofy, over-the-top version of The Dark Knight that never came to fruition. And towards the end of the film, there is a brief five minute period where the movie is actually entertaining. But other than that, this movie is just a slog from start to finish.

I have nothing else to say about Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. It's one of the worst films of 2014 and a shockingly bad misfire. I'm already dreading the release of Ninja Turtles 2. Unless the filmmakers decide to actually put some energy into the sequel, I can't see it being any better. This is pure trash and I'm saddened to see that it's making money. Nothing about TMNT is entertaining for adults and it shouldn't be entertaining for kids either. It's poorly made, weakly acted and not even close to being fascinating.

THE FINAL GRADE:  D                                              (4.4/10)

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