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Saturday, August 9, 2014

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014)

And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon and his name was Michael Bay. Okay, maybe I’m being a bit hyperbolic here, Michael Bay is not the Anti-Christ, but he did cause Armageddon. It easy to take cheap shots at this man who hasn’t met a scene that he felt wouldn’t look better cut into 50 three second shots, but his films have made millions and millions of dollars which is certainly some kind of verification (of the End Times perhaps). He is the definitive commercial filmmaker and no one can deny his impact on the medium as either director or producer.

Gritty Reboot Step One: Grunge it all up.

In this latest trashing of our nostalgic childhood Michael Bay sits back in the producers chair while Jonathan Liebesman takes over the megaphone, but this is clearly a Michael Bay film as it’s got his attention deficit fingers all over it.


April O’Neil (Megan Fox) is a reporter tired of doing puff pieces for Channel Six News, she wants to cover the Foot Clan, a shadowy criminal organization that is terrorizing New York City. While investigating on her own time she witnesses a vigilante thwarting the Foot Clan, a vigilante that is super strong (he tosses shipping containers around) and possibly not human. When Shredder, the leader of the Foot Clan hears about this he orders his minions to take hostages to draw him out. This is one of those leaps in logic that characters make constantly in this movie. There is no reason for Shredder to believe that some monster that attacks his men at the docks would give a damn about a bunch of New York civilians as the Turtles haven’t been established as heroes yet.

The Foot Clan 
Foot Clan, evil ninjas or boring mercenaries, you decide.

After the hostages are saved by the Turtles April follows them up to the roof and discovers what they are, which is of course Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. She photographs them but is quickly relieved of this bit of evidence, and when she tries to tell her boss at Channel 6 about giant talking ninja turtles she gets fired.

Megan Fox is April O’Neil “Action Reporter”

Later at her apartment she goes over an old tape she made as a little girl when she use to play “Girl Reporter” at her dad’s lab and it’s here we discover that the Turtles and Splinter were lab subjects and also April’s pets. She rescued them from a lab fire, one her dad started, and then dumped them in the sewer. Why did this little girl risk her life to save her pets to just turn around and dump them in the sewer? Hell if I know.  Did we really need a direct connection between the Turtles and April?  This is even lazier than the Joker being the killer of Batman’s parents, we don’t need this.

Splinter also apparently learned ninjutsu from a book he found in the sewer.

April tries to get help from billionaire Eric Sacks (William Fichtner) who was her dad’s partner and shocking to no one it turns out he is one of the baddies. He’s in league with the Shredder and has an evil plan that is dumber than lamest of the Bond villain plans. A plan that involves in part releasing a toxic chemical from a spire on his own high rise building in a scene that looks completely cribbed from The Amazing Spider-Man.
william fichner 
“I’m rich so by definition I’m evil.”

That’s as much as I’m going to get into the story…well actually there is no story, there are just a series of consecutive events that at times tease one into believing there is a plot, but it is all smoke and mirrors as there is nothing here. Characters continually move from point “A” to point “C” with no regard to how they got there, because point “B” is for losers. At one point they are being chased down a snowy mountain in Upstate New York and then one cut later and they are all of a sudden in the sewers of Manhattan. The magic of bad editing.
Michelangelo, this movies one saving grace.

The movie does have one redeeming element and that is the interaction among the Turtles, there is some really humorous moments as the four Turtles banter back an forth, and Michelangelo’s crush on April is quite funny and well handled. Sadly I can’t say anything positive about the look of the Turtles as they are just big, ugly and over designed CGI creatures, but they are genius when compared to the design of Robot-Shredder who looks like a walking talking exploding Ginsu factory.

“Hey Shredder, Silver Samurai wants his armor back!”

April has comic sidekick played by Will Arnettt and I spent much of the film feeling sorry for him, being paired with Megan Fox after already being stuck working with her on Jonah Hex seems just too cruel.  He serves no real purpose and only makes one wonder…

“Where is Casey Jones?”

In conclusion if you want to watch a movie where super-strong, bullet proof mutant turtles take on machine gun toting ninjas who are in service to a CGI knife show, then this may be the movie for you. If not then go see Guardians of the Galaxy, and if you’ve already seen it, well go see it again.  Or you could just go and read the original Eastman and Laird comics.

I miss these guys.

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