Michael Bay’s Jonathan Liebesman‘s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. There are very few films that’ve been the kind of lightning rod for fanboy rage this one has. From early leaks that the Turtles would be aliens to weirdly human faces to a white Shredder to Michael Bay and Megan Fox simply being involved, every step of the way something about this movie pissed someone off. So, just how well-founded was all this anger?
To put it simply, everyone can calm the hell down. Almost everything everyone was afraid of or upset about is a complete non-issue and, as a bonus, the movie’s damn fun.
The plot is pretty basic – it’s the Turtles’ first outing and they tussle with the Foot, led by Shredder (Heroes‘ Tohoru Masamune) and Eric Sachs (William Fichtner) who if you’ll notice are not the same person (not a spoiler, this is first act stuff and not played as a reveal). They want to capture the Turtles to get at the mutagen in their blood as part of their evil plan. There’s some other stuff, but that’s basically it. Rescue the Turtles that got caught, escape, stop the plan.
As for your childhood, it’s safe. Everyone acts pretty much exactly like you’d expect them to. The new designs actually work really well (or maybe that’s just me, I never had much of a problem with them) and the CGI is surprisingly good. There are very few moments when you don’t think they’re right there with the human cast. Also, the crazy over-the-top blades on the new Shredder design have a very cool function.
But you’re worried about what they changed. I know that. Without giving too much away, the Turtles are definitely not aliens, at all in any way whatsoever. They are, however, directly tied to April, her father and Eric Sachs. While the Turtles’ personalities are exactly as you’d hope they’d be, this time it’s Michelangelo who gets the crush on April (a trait that shifts around depending on the continuity). Thankfully, he doesn’t pull the same Nice Guy Friend Zone bullshit as Donatello on the current cartoon.
Speaking of which, I think that’s the movie’s main problem. If Nickelodeon wasn’t running such an amazing take on these characters right now (Donnie’s creepiness aside), this wouldn’t have have something to suffer in comparison to. It’s better than everyone expected it to be, but it’s nowhere near as good as what you can get on a weekly basis.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014) is fun. It’s damn fun. The downhill snow chase scene that’s been in the trailers is one of the most exciting and kinetic action sequences I’ve seen this year. But notice I keep saying that it’s fun and other faint praise. It’s not a great film, and it won’t be anyone’s definitive version of the franchise. It is, however, a blast to watch. And even if you nitpick the hell out of it and find faults because it’s not exactly like the first run of Mirage comics, the Image comics, the second run of Mirage comics, the Archie comics, the Dreamwave comics, the IDW comics, the 80s/90s cartoon, the two episode anime, the 2000s cartoon, the new cartoon or the live action movies (and either the live-action TV series or the 2007 CGI movie which both served as sequels), your kids are going to love it. Honestly, there’s a chance you’ll dig it too.
I give Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014) 6.75 MISLEADING RUMORS out of 10.