<Review by: Sailesh Ghelani>
Directed by Jonathan Liebesman. Starring Megan Fox, Will Arnett, William Fichtner, Whoopi Goldberg
Yes, I’m old enough to remember the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (TMNT) cartoons during the 80s. No, I won’t remember this TMNT movie even three months from now.
With Michael ‘The destroyer of childhood franchises’ Bay on Producing duty we know what to expect. He’s massacred the origins story of The Transformers and pandered to the people who like ‘leaving their brains behind for a movie’. His last film, Transformers Age of Extinction, wasn’t just a slap in the face of Transformers fans it was also a heaping pile of junk that many brainless young teens high on EDM (that’s Electronic Dance Music, what they’re only listening to nowadays) and protein shakes lapped up and probably spat out the next day.
I didn’t always hate Michael Bay. There was his film The Rock that I can still watch again and again on cable. His Armageddon still entertains even though the similarly themed Deep Impact was a deeper and more touching film. And after going through his bio on Rotten Tomatoes I have just realised that The Rock is his only film that got a good rating. It’s quite enlightening and surprising but shows you that critical acclaim has nothing to do with box office or career success.
That being said, I did not entirely hate TMNT. Perhaps it’s because Jonathan Liebesman and not Bay directed it and it does have some redeeming qualities and scenes.
April O’Neil (Megan Fox, who seems to have kissed and made up with Bay, who she called ‘Hitler’ while working with him on Transformers 2, the last time she would work in that franchise) is a reporter who is tired of fluff pieces. She stumbles upon weird ‘creatures’ fighting off an evil band of criminals called the Foot Clan (sounds like a shoe shop or foot massage parlour). These genetically enhanced turtles Leonardo (voiced by Johnny Knoxville), Donatello (Jeremy Howard), Michaelangelo (Noel Fisher) and Raphael (Alan Ritchson) are lead/fathered by a mutant rat called Sensei Splinter (voiced by Tony Shaloub and motion capture by Danny Woodburn).
Together they must stop Master Shredder of the Foot Clan and his partner (you just know it’s William Fichtner from the moment you see him, he’s always the bad guy!) from exposing New York City to a lethal gas for purposes to take over the city.
Megan Fox has her fans, for obvious reasons. I actually thought she was much better eye candy and spunk in the Transformers films than the subsequent two blonde babes they replaced her with. But her journalist who wants to get the scoop never really comes through in TMNT. She isn’t even armed with a camera or a voice recorder and not once does anything remotely investigative. So much so that the entire plot of the background of mutating animals is even tied in to her childhood and her scientist father. So she just has to remember stuff (well partly, she has to refer to old journals and a childhood video) and not deduce anything. This is where the filmmakers have tampered with the original story of the Turtles. But thankfully they didn’t go with making them aliens!
The witty banter between the Turtles was always the draw in the original cartoons and movies from the 90s. But in this TMNT only Michelangelo really has any character detail. Even the tortured and rebellious Raphael is skimmed over. Perhaps they’ll do it in the sequel!
The guys on the Snow Unit of this film and the CGI people who were responsible for the scene that shows the Turtles and April and that other guy (Will Arnett) careening down a mountain slope in an 18-wheeler semi truck with Foot Clan soldiers attacking them must be given a promotion and a raise. Adrenaline all the way.
There’s just one more scene with the half-shell foursome in a slow lift to the top of a building breaking into an impromptu beat boxing rap session. More of that and we would have been slightly happier.
As it is, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is another Hollywood film full of clichés and stock jokes that barely gets by with the help of Megan Fox’s ass and a comment about an erection (“my shell is getting tight”). So kids are supposed to be seeing this are they?