Your favorite “Heroes in a Half Shell” are back! The new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was directed by Jonathan Liebesmann, and stars our favorite four mutant turtles. The film marks another reboot of a beloved 80s/90s movie. So how did Mr. Leibesmann do? Check out Violet and Josh’s spoiler-free reviews below. Also, let us know what you thought in the comments below! Oh, and in the mighty words of Micahelango, “Cowabunga, dude!”
His Movie Review of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles:
Children of the 80s and early 90s likely have one big thing in common–they are all fans of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in some fashion or another. Whether it was reading the original story from the comic book by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird, or watching the cartoons or three films, if you are between the ages of 25 and 35 you were probably a fan.
The “heroes in a half shell” are back to the big screen in a movie reboot, with director Jonathan Liebesman at the helm. Liebesman is known for such films as Battle Los Angeles and Wrath of the Titans. It should also be noted that Michael Bay is a producer on the film. Megan Fox stars as Channel 6 reporter April O’Neil, while the turtles are voiced by Noel Fisher (Michelangelo), Johnny Knoxville (Leonardo), Jeremy Howard (Donatello), and Alan Ritchson (Raphael). The big bad is who you’d expect–Shredder, played by Tohoru Masamune.
So how did the film do? Well, if you listen to Rotten Tomatoes, not so well–critically the film has come in at a 19%. Not a good sign. But in true Michael Bay fashion, people are flocking to the theater in spite of the poor reviews–the film is estimated to bring in $62 million according to Entertainment Weekly, which is some $20 million more than first anticipated.
So the film is a reboot, changing the origin some from what I know from the movies and comics, but for the most part stays faithful to its predecessors. Probably the biggest issue with the origin story is that Master Splinter learns to become a master ninja from a Ninjutsu book. If I were a betting man, I don’t think a book is enough to become a powerful ninja–but I will let that one go. The beginning of the film primarily follows April O’Neil, a not-so up-and-coming reporter, who is stuck on the “fluff” pieces for Channel 6, and has her eye on the prize–cracking the big story of the Foot Clan. Her pursuit of the story eventually leads her into seeing mysterious martial artists that eventually she identifies as “Ninja mutant turtle teenagers”–or something like that. Eventually, Shredder decides that he needs the turtles for his master plan, and that’s when the “Michael Bay-ification” begins in the movie. The film moves from action scene to action scene, becoming more ridiculous than the last.
Unfortunately, while the movie had a big spectacle, the movie felt like there was no heart in it. At least for the most part. Megan Fox stifles the first part of the movie, with bad acting and a faint sense of urgency as she attempts to pursue her career. Will Arnett, on the other hand, provides at least some humor to the scenes he is in, distracting from the yawns Fox provides. Why do Michael Bay films continue to cast Megan Fox? Didn’t Bay have a big tiff with Fox? Did Fox blackmail Bay into putting her into a new movie? Or have they made up since their fight after Transformers 2 ? Regardless, there are plenty of better actresses to play April O’Neil out there. Why did he have to return to Megan Fox?
As for the turtles, they were pretty one dimensional, but fairly accurate to who they were in the previous iterations. Donatello is the nerd, Michelango is the party animal (he even has a “cowabunga” line), Raphael is the rebel, and Leonardo is the leader. The Turtle probably with the biggest story arc in the film is probably Raphael, which makes sense. His character is the one most easily written around. There are actually a couple scenes with Raphael, where you actually are invested in the film. Most of the time though, there is so much over the top action going on, it is hard to really get drawn into the movie–the scenes are just too ridiculous to appreciate.
Having said that, I really want to like the movie. I felt at certain times that I might almost be liking it. But then I would be completely taken out of the movie–either by poor acting, poor storytelling, too much going on, and often all three at one time.
But if you are a Ninja Turtles fan, and enjoy the Transformers films, you will likely find this movie entertaining. Just be sure to check your brain at the door, as too much thought, and the movie falls apart at the seams.
As for rating, this film deserves about a 6. There were some enjoyable parts, mostly when Megan Fox was not involved. Raphael’s arch I felt was fairly entertaining, and there were certainly some humorous parts. But the film is overshadowed by a lot of story problems and lack of any real desire to care about the movie. The pace of the movie was pretty off, with extremely slow parts spread through the middle of the story. But again, Transformers fans will definitely find this movie fun. It is basically the same movie with ninja mutant teenage turtles rather than giant robots.
Her Movie Review of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles:
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, directed by Jonathan Liebsman (Wrath of the Titans, Battle Los Angeles) stars Megan Fox as April O’Neil, Will Arnett as Vernon Fenwick, April’s camera guy, William Fichtner as Eric Sacks, and Whoopi Goldberg as Bernadette Thompson, April’s boss. The film also features the voice talents of Johnny Knoxville as Leonardo, and Tony Shaloub as Splinter.
As you may have seen our in Summer Movie Guide post from a few months ago, my excitement level for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was a mere 4 out of 10. This is not because I am not a fan of TMNT, because trust me, I am, but because this new movie just did not look very good to me. I didn’t like the casting of Megan Fox as April O’Neil, and I especially did not like the way the turtles looked. That being said, I still planned to see it regardless, because as a lifelong Ninja Turtles fan, I felt obligated to check it out.
Then a couple of weeks ago, I sat in on the Paramount Pictures panel at San Diego Comic-Con, where cast and crew talked about the movie, and we got to see some footage from the film. It didn’t particularly impress me, but I came out of the panel with my excitement level having been raised from a 4 to a 5 – so from a slightly negative attitude to a “meh” attitude, as the footage made me feel like the movie wouldn’t be quite as bad as I thought it would be.
So, what’s the movie about? Well, April O’Neil is trying to get a leg up in her career by going off on her own and investigating the Foot Clan and their nefarious deeds, when she runs into the four Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, who have been acting as vigilantes, trying to thwart the efforts of the Foot Clan. We soon discover the origins of the turtles and Splinter, then find out that their existence ties in with a diabolical plan put in place by Master Shredder, which the turtles, Splinter, April, and Vern work together to try to stop.
As a childhood fan of the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon show and movies, I just could not get past how different the turtles looked in this movie. I mean, I got used to it and accepted it for the sake of the movie, but other than that, I just did not like it at all. One thing that I could not accept even for the sake of the movie was how Splinter looked. I guess I get that they were trying to make him look more like an overgrown rat than the original Splinter did, but this Splinter was just a really big ugly rat that I almost could not stand to look at. Another complaint about looks is Donatello. He was my favorite growing up because I used to think I was smart when I was a kid, and he was the smart one of the bunch, so I felt we were perfect for each other. In this movie though, they make him into a stereotypical nerd, complete with glasses that magnify his eyes. The thing is, really all of them were nerds, with each of them making references to Batman, Harry Potter, Professor Xavier, and other nerdy things. I just feel like I have to defend Donatello’s honor since they made him into a pocket-protector type nerd, and that annoyed me.
Let’s get the rest of the negatives out of the way. While I’m glad that Michael Bay decided not to pursue his initial plan to make the turtles be aliens, I did not like the origin story that the filmmakers decided to replace the old origin story with. It just didn’t make sense overall. As for the acting, Megan Fox is just not a good actor. Despite my initial qualms, I tried to give her a chance as April O’Neil, but she just was not believable with almost anything she said. For example, times when she was supposed to sound sincere, she sounded sarcastic, and other times it felt like she was over-acting. Other than her, I didn’t really have a problem with any of the other acting. Although there were several moments that I found funny, a lot of the humor was just not funny to me. Maybe I’m too old, I don’t know. The storyline itself was also quite predictable, and I found the scenario that the turtles were trying to prevent at the end was too familiar, especially for a superhero type movie.
Now for the positives. I actually did not have a problem with the effects and CGI, other than the actual appearance of the turtles and Splinter. There were some fun parts, and it was nice to see familiar characters, including villains, from the originals.
The film tried to have heart, but I just wasn’t feeling it. Maybe I’m too old and stuck in my ways, so I didn’t like the drastic changes that were made to a childhood favorite. The movie wasn’t horrible, but it wasn’t good either. I’d say wait until it’s streaming on Netflix, if it ever makes it there. It’s not worth the trouble of actually seeking out.
My rating: 5/10