Thursday, August 7, 2014

Review: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Release date: August 8, 2014
Running time: 101 minutes
Starring: Megan Fox, Will Arnett, William Fichtner 
Who to see it with: A Michael Bay fan or someone who watched these as a kid


I fully expected to hate Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. With the turtles being such a large part of my childhood, and already having starred in a few movies, a Michael Bay-produced felt like a Hollywood cash grab. However, after seeing the new film, I can safely say that although the film isn't perfect, it's still pretty radical. TMNT attempts to introduce a new generation of kids (and possibly adults) to this storied franchise. In it, young reporter April O'Neil (Fox) is attempting to break out of her unimportant fluff stories by investigating an underground crime gang called the foot clan. This investigation leads to a random encounter with four teenage mutant ninja turtles who are trying to fight back against the foot clan.

The first and most immediately noticeable part of the new movie is the heavy use of CG, whereas previous iterations used make up. For the turtles, this was less distracting than I thought it would be. I hardly noticed the CG and it rarely took me out of the movie. For Splinter, however, it looked pretty bad; he looked more like a rat corpse than a furry mentor. But, if the movie is going to get one or the other right, I'm glad that they got the turtles; I just wish they could have nailed both. The movie is clearly a Michael Bay movie, with some of his trademark effects: certain sounds reminded me of transformers, some of the characters look like they could be in transformers, and there were plenty of elaborate set pieces, like in transformers. And, in true Bay fashion, the story is serviceable enough to move but not very deep--basically a perfect summer movie. 

But, the best part about the new films was that they got the turtles personalities right. Leo leads, Donatello invents (although not as much as I would have hoped), Raph is hot-headed, and Mike is silly and provides a lot of the comic relief. The film also captures the series's blend of humorous and serious moments. There is a particular scene leading to the climactic final encounter that had the entire theater laughing. TMNT is not a cinematic masterpiece, but then again it doesn't want to be. It's like Rocky Road ice cream: it's enjoyable, it will bring you back to your childhood, it's not very complex but has plenty to keep you entertained, and it is perfect for a hot summer day. 

Cowabunga! See it.

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