johnlink ranks TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES (2014)

After watching the hard-to-stomach ending of A MOST WANTED MAN, my wife and I needed something much less heavy. Something which would take our minds off of that very good, but ultimately tough, thriller. Something with more fun. Something with more action. Something with some ninja turtles. Didn’t go in expecting anything good, just hoping to be entertained.

Left to right: Raphael, Splinter, Donatello, Leonardo, Michelangelo, and Megan Fox as April O'Neil in TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES, from Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon Movies.

I watched TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES (2014) on 8.31.15. It was my first viewing of the film.

Megan Fox, despite how people feel about her, is not the problem with TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES. An early scene has her reporter, April O’Neil, bantering with her cameraman Vernon (Will Arnett). We all know Will Arnett is a funny guy. While the jury may be out on Megan Fox (well, maybe the jury has already convicted her of having no talent), Arnett is funny. Yet the ‘banter’ he and she are asked to engage in is so painful that we can almost see it in his eyes. “I got into this big budget movie,” his eyes are saying, “and they want me to make this stuff funny?”

TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES is harmless. It is fun enough. Producer Michael Bay, who may well have directed it with the plethora of his fingerprints marking the film, got what he wanted. The score is probably the worst of one of his films, but it is sprawling and aims to inspire. There are fart jokes. There are shaking cameras barely capturing action. There are moments of comedy at points which would seem to be working merely to counteract the thought that anyone might be in danger.

The action is big and mostly fun. An early battle on a subway track is cool. A late battle on a snowy mountain starts out large and powerful and ends up devolving into a computer generated mess. The rooftop climax is good before devolving into a cliche of characters thinking they are about to die and revealing too much about themselves. This is a movie which eagerly engages in cliches as if this will be the best version of any given cliche it embraces. The villain monologues are painful.

The product placement is just absolutely painful. A Skype call – with a logo that never appears on any Skype call I’ve been on – which absolutely must have been written in after the movie was shot. Several shameless Pizza Hut nods. Giant billboards (Bay’s Project Almanac for one, Victoria’s Secret for another) which the camera lingers on for way too long before moving on. A certain level of product placement is understandable. It is a demon of the modern era. But guys, come on, at least TRY to be subtle.

I may have forgotten to mention plot and character up until now. I suppose that is because they are not particularly inspired. The plot leans comically on coincadence. On the other hand, the titular Turtles are fine, I suppose. They are funny sometimes and never really annoying. The villain is Shredder, of course, but he has a major henchman who we know must be a major henchman the second we see him because the movie cast William Ficthner in the role. Everything about this guy says “I may pretend to be good in the first act, but you know I am going to show my true colors and you will see it coming a mile away.”

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What else is there to say? The opening is really cool. It is drawn by original TRTLES co-creator Kevin Eastman and paints a bit of an origin story… The movie is shamelessly meta, even going as far as addressing – through dialogue, no less -the ‘controversy’ about an original draft of this film’s script positioning the turtles as aliens… The movie constantly features characters expressing disbelief regarding the turtles, as if the movie is continually apologizing for its own existence…

Oh no. I’ve evolved into eclipses. Time to end this review. TURTLES is fun enough, but not worth seeking out by any means at all. An unnecessary sequel is inevitable, to be sure.

SCORES

FILM: 3; MOVIE: 8; ACTING: 5; WRITING: 3

3+8+5+3+0=19

FINAL SCORE: 4.75 out of 10

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~ by johnlink00 on September 1, 2015.

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