Saturday, August 9, 2014

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014) Review:

Some particular characters just have trouble coming back to movies. It happens even to the most popular of characters. After Batman & Robin (1997), it took almost a whole decade before the caped crusader returned in Batman Begins (2005). Clark Kent was another; after Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987), it wasn't until Superman Returns (2006) that fans saw the man of steel of again. A big chunk of the reason why these characters went into hibernation was due to poor box office numbers and critical responses at the time. The same can be said for the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise. After Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III (1993), nobody saw another live-action theatrical release until now. What a wait, and after all this time, has the time paid off? In some ways yes, but in other ways no.

The design is unique from that of the early stages,...
When Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III (1993) failed to bring in any acclaim, it was time to head back to the beginning. Time travel was no longer an option. The introduction starts off somewhat similar to that of the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990), with a city terrorized by a mysterious gang known as the Foot Clan and April O'Neil (Megan Fox) is going to be the reporter to reveal the truth. Or at least so she wants to be, and this is where things get different. O'Neil is no longer a top news anchor, she's low of the low, struggling to make it to the top. The weird thing is, it’s hard to feel much for any particular character. She has been molded into somewhat of a pushover. Ouch. Accompanying her is coworker Vernon (Will Arnett) who has a thing for April (gee what a surprise - but isn't he kind of old?) and together they make a discovery they never thought was possible.

Enter the turtles Raphael, Donatello, Leonardo and Michelangelo. Four very large muscular reptiles that have quite a new look. For one thing, their personalities and design are more exaggerated than before which helps viewers identify them easier (even though the masks were enough). Noticeably, they look like what could've been the next generation turtles that were going to be used for the dropped TMNT sequel to number III. Thankfully, their back stories for the most part are not tampered with. They also all still have their respective personalities and mannerisms. The voices behind the CGI characters are commendable. They do fit the turtles nicely. Still, it would've been better to use as many practical effects instead of relying entirely on CGI. Those Jim Henson costumes were groundbreaking.

Aside from this though, not many other characters have much to care about. First off, where is Casey Jones? Second, the villains in this film are averagely written. The Foot Clan itself has been changed drastically - they no longer are trained ninjas. They now carry pistols and machine guns. This cuts down on the hand-to-hand combat drastically and that's bad because this is a ninja theme based movie right? The infamous Shredder has now traded in background for looks. Yes, no doubt his suit is deadly,...perhaps too deadly. The writers were so focused on how much armor overload they could put on him instead of making a decent villain. Instead, his motivation to harm the turtles has no personal connection thus making him feel like a henchman. William Fichtner also has a particular role to play yet vanishes at the end with no closure of what his fate was.

But seriously,....armor overload.....
The plot is another unclear element. It isn't bloated with subplots but it doesn't come across as a plot that makes much sense. The comedy is a hit and miss as well. The comedic moments work the most when the turtles are in action. Other times like including fart gags and contemporary TV references feels a bit randomly thrown in. There was one scene that frustrated me. When Rapheal begins to emote to his brothers passionately about how he feels, this emotional moment ends on a gag. It undermines the whole scene! Back to action, several scenes do entertain but are not very tense. The best scene was the snow mountain chase, which looked like fun. Helping to make this "superhero" film as good as it could be was Brian Tyler's score. Uncommonly, Tyler does have a main theme for the franchise but doesn't reiterate it enough through the film to make it stick as the protagonists' head tune - and Tyler is better than this. Iron Man 3 (2013) and The Expendables (2010)? This should've been a walk in the park. Does it entertain yes,...but is it good as it could've been for a reboot, no.

The turtles and the shredder receive astounding image upgrades and do have some energetic action sequences but only the turtles themselves have any shred of humanity. The human characters, plot, comical elements and music aren't developed enough to be truly special.

Points Earned --> 5:10

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