TMNT (2014): The Saturday AM Review
As an 80’s kid, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were my childhood. I even dressed up as Leonardo for many a Halloween and just around the house really. My favorite turtle was Michelangelo (I think I dressed as Leo because blue is my favorite color), and Donatello was my least. Purple is the worst color and, to me as a kid, his weapon was a stick—boo. I was quite angry at this remake, especially after seeing the trailer.
In response to the original negative aspects seen in the trailer, the trailer is really misleading and most stuff I was upset by was actually not true in the film and closer to the mythology I remembered. I wasn’t thrilled with TMNT but I wasn’t as pissed off as I thought I would be. For this review, I am going to try to approach it in a pro/con style. To say what and why I liked and disliked will have to be done with tons of spoilers (stop now to avoid). I will start off with the stuff I found misleading from the trailer.
The turtles seemed insanely too tall and big, but the four are actually only about 6 feet. I was comforted by this fact, and they size up to Will Arnett so it’s not like freaky. There is also a cute growing up montage so the turtle appearance grew on me. I thought one preview implied that Shredder could be April’s dad or he was a bad guy…not the case. Also, Shredder is definitely Asian, Japanese, so no problem there. The ninja turtles were “technically” created in a lab then mutated in the sewer…but with the ooze; I had no problem with this change and actually thought is was cool and a fun way to incorporate the “secret of the ooze.”
There are elements of the turtles’ look that really bothered me. I hated their creepy noses; they look like Voldemort. The weird thing about the appearance, which I didn’t know before reading end credits, was the turtles were actually done through motion capture instead of complete CGI. This kind of baffles me because the turtles don’t seem as seamless or “realistic” as say Planet of the Apes. The movements and proportions of the turtles seemed off and not up to Andy Serkis standards. I wonder if the turtles would have looked different if entire CGI was used. Another look that bothered me more than anything was Splinter; I hated how he looked. It looked so much more fake or the composite was off. He was rocking a fu manchu that was just not working for me. I also found him wayyyy to agile; Splinter has a full on kung fu/fight scene with Shredder. I wanted an old, wise, fragile Splinter. Although, this film seemed to imply this was his last battle, and he will probably be the Splinter I remember in the sequel. I guess this movie was Splinter’s last hurrah. Now on to Shredder…you only see Shredder maybe once without his getup and kind of at a quick glance. I absolutely hated Shredder’s outfit; he looks like Predator mixed with a Transformer. I swear at one point the Transformer sound effect was heard when Shredder popped blades out of his armor. This Shredder looks and acts nothing like any previous Shredder (mind you this is before he also gets some ooze in his system). The dude is indestructible…Iron Man would be jealous of Shredder’s suit.
The turtles were quite clever and witty, as it should be, with Mikey always the best and scene stealer. However, some of the catchphrases were missing or inadequate. There should have been more pizza, “Cowabunga,” shell jokes, etc. I also secretly wanted some homage to the Ninja Rap (greatest song ever!), but, instead, the theme song made for this movie SUCKS. It was not catchy and quite annoying. It was just trying to hard to be serious and Hot 100 but TMNT is supposed to be hyped and kitschy. A likely favorite scene for most, towards the end, there is a cool freestyle scene with the turtles in an elevator making beats before fighting. There were awesome fanboy jokes throughout the movie though, which I really liked and felt appropriate.
The plot concerning the villains’ endgame was pretty bad, but the action sequences surrounding it made up for the crappy reasoning. The foot clan was a real disappointment; I don’t know about you, but the foot clan are not supposed to be just military people shooting guns. The whole point of the foot clan is they are martial arts experts. TMNT is supposed to be like kiddie violence—looks painful but no real threat of death. The foot clan also wore these weird Japanese masks that I was not a fan of. It seemed demeaning that Shredder would rely on someone else to carry out a plan—and that plan is to poison NYC (doubtful).
The action sequences were pretty cool. The avalanche scene shown in the trailer is a highlight. The film could have used more fight scenes, but the ones that were in it lasted quite long. The snow sequence is actually a long fight that starts at a home then ends at the bottom of the snow hill. This scene completely represents what and who the turtles are. The four ban together with April’s help and her cameraman, Will Arnett, to stop the bad guy. TMNT is about all four turtles having to work together to win, like tag team wrestling. This sequence really stuck out to me; it was fun, looked awesome, and had all the elements. I hope the sequel goes more in this direction.
I really liked Megan Fox as April O’Neil. She was smart, witty, and tough. Also, it’s a relief the yellow jumpsuit was updated to just a yellow jacket. I know Megan Fox gets a lot of crap, but I like her honesty and is actually a really good actor. It also helps that Megan Fox was a TMNT superfan, a fanboy in general, so it put the role in good hands. Will Arnett was a new character but really funny. I was hoping there would be a teaser or end credit scene showing Casey Jones.
The opening titles were done in a comic style, similar to Spiderman’s titles, but closer to Eastman and Laird’s comics. I wish there was more of this but I appreciated it. There was some homage throughout the film, but I wanted more. I liked TMNT but still there were a few things to be disappointed with. As a part of my childhood, I knew it would be difficult to not find faults but I still felt let down. Maybe the sequel will focus more on past mythology and uphold more expectations. However, despite being a Nickelodeon Film, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles seemed more for adults than children. This was a serious teen/adult summer action movie attempt not a kid’s movie.
The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles will always be a part of my childhood and I will continue to support their evolution.
By Kasey Michael--a lover of all things entertainment. Born and bred in North Carolina, she has a degree in Film Studies and can usually be found in front of a screen.