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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles


Review #233, Movie #304
Teenage Mutant NinjaTurtles


Year Of Release
2014

Director/s
Jonathan Liebesman

Producer/s
Michael Bay, Andrew Form, Bradley Fuller, Galen Walker, Scott Mednick, Ian Bryce

Writer/s
Josh Appelbaum, Andre Nemec, Evan Daugherty, Kevin Eastman, Peter Laird

Cast
Alan Ritchson, Pete Ploszek, Jeremy Howard, Noel Fisher, Danny Woodburn, Tony Shalhoub, Megan Fox, Will Arnett, William Fichtner, Tohoru Masamune, Minae Noji, Whoopi Goldberg and Johnny Knoxville

Notes And Trivia
The movie was originally going to be called “Ninja Turtles” but after negative feedback from fans, and the fact the title left it open for the filmmakers to use Aliens as a backstory, it was put back to Teenage Mutant.

Bebop and Rocksteady were pencilled in as appearing in the film but were dropped out in place of having them show in a sequel instead.


Leo’s face was based on Russell Crowe, Raph on Clint Eastward, Mikey on Bill Murray and Donny was based on Leonard Nimoy.
Splinter’s face was based on Japanese Legend Toshiro Mifune.


Ernie Reyes Jr who appeared in TMNT 2: The Secret Of The Ooze, and was a stunt double for Donatello in the first TMNT film in 1990, served as a Martial Art Consultant for this film.


The iconic line “Tonight I dine on Turtle Soup” made a welcome return for this film.
The TMNT Christmas hit “We Wish You A Turtle Christmas” from 1994 is hinted at in this film.
The iconic scene from the cartoons where the four Turtles jump from a rooftop and drop past the camera makes a show near the start of the film.
Usagi Yojimbo is also hinted at in this film too.

This is the first time in Turtle history, that Leonardo actually carries proper Katana. All other incarnations say he carries them but the swords are, in reality, Ninjato.

It was also released on the 30th anniversary of the Turtles first appearance.

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Synopsis:
April O’Neil, a young but downtrodden reporter for Channel 6 News hopes one day of finding that big story that will make her a star in the world of TV News.
The city has been under attack from The Foot Clan for a while now, and April is hot on their heels, especially after the recent theft of genetic material.

While scoping out the local docks she witnesses The Foot carrying out another theft, and a shadowy figure appears and fights them off… and a while later, after trying to hunt down this vigilante, she comes across 4 giant Turtles…

Review:
Hmmmm…. hmmmmm………

This film… is…

Ok…

Chalk and Cheese.

There are some huge faults with this movie. One being it plays out so incredibly quickly.
There’s no big realisation. No mystery or anything really intriguing.

It’s a case of skipping backstory with a handful of dialogue. We see the Turtles’ backstory, albeit rewritten, and that’s it.
There’s nothing that really makes the Turtles’ actions, or The Foot’s actions, make any sense.
They just sort of… are.
“This is these guys, these are those guys, this is what they are… now on with the fist fights and wisecracks.”

It’s pretty hollow in terms of story and emotion. Especially compared with the original film, and for that matter the original 1989 cartoons too.

Nothing that gives the viewer an emotional thrill either. The first TMNT movie from 1990, had piles of spiritual content, the mystery of Ninjutsu and the emotional content that came from the history of the Turtles’ and Splinter’s beginnings.
There was a family thing going on. A family feud almost too between Splinter and Shredder.
This film has none of that apart from Splinter occasionally saying “you’re Brothers” now and then.
It’s pretty weak in terms of connection.

It’s like a midge of the original graphic novel, the 1989 cartoon, the 1990 film and its sequels and then some added extras from the later cartoons thrown in for good measure.

The backstory of the Turtles and Splinter being rewritten was something I had reservations about too, but to be honest, it does work. Sadly though it’s the way it unfolds on screen with the bad screenplay that lets it down.

It feels, well, lost, for a TMNT story.


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But, apart from the faults behind the writing… this film is an absolute blast to watch.

It has some brilliant fight scenes, has all of the characters down to a T (pun intended) and is incredibly funny at times too.
It’s everything a TMNT movie should be in terms of a few brainless battles and wisecracks and I couldn’t help really getting behind the Turtles while they’re knocking Foot Soldiers around like ragdolls.
Along with being funny though, it’s a fun movie to sit through.


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The acting though is top drawer too.

Alan Ritchson as Raphael
Pete Ploszek as Leonardo (voiced by Johnny Knoxville)
Jeremy Howard as Donatello
Noel Fisher as Michelangelo

These 4 guys (5 if you include Knoxville as Leo’s voice) nail these roles. They have the right characteristics and carry the humour extremely well, even during the more exciting scenes.
I loved these guys in these roles, even more-so than in any other incarnation.
Noel Fisher in particular as Mikey, I can see becoming a firm fan-favourite… he’s perfect.

Danny Woodburn as Splinter (voiced by Tony Shalhoub)
There’s not a great deal to say about Woodburn/Shalhoub as Splinter. He’s more a supporting character but is nicely used when the going gets tough. I’m glad we get to see Splinter kick some ass though like he does in the cartoons compared to the immoveable puppet we had in 1990.

We have though an underused, and also underdeveloped villain, in William Fichtner as Eric Sacks. After the finale, we don’t see what happens to him or the outcome of his villainy.
The Shredder aka: Oroku Saki, played by Tohoru Masamune is also a bit hit and miss. He’s simply just muscle used to knock the Turtles around and he’s mostly CGI too. It’s good that the filmmakers used the Super-Shredder thing, being that the new Turtle design would have kicked the original Shredder easily, but we needed more Oroku Saki and less man-in-supersuit throwing kicks and punches. He makes a good fighting baddie, just not a great baddie.

Megan Fox as O’Neil is also pretty apt. Fox is a bit dodgy at best in all her other roles tbh, but as the nosey reporter, who borders annoying on occasion, is perfectly played by Fox.

Backup comes from Will Arnett (wanted to see more of him) and Minae Noji as Karai. Noji should also have been given more scope, especially as a second-in-command to Shredder.
Whoopi Goldberg also makes a show in a rewritten role as the head of Channel 6 News, who treats April O’Neil like she’s gone mad.


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The action and effects though really make this film a Turtle Film.
Top effects in the CG stakes and some awesome set pieces combined with some brilliant choreography make this one stand out from the crowd of Turtle incarnations.

It’s exciting to watch and constantly impresses when it shows the occasional nod to the previous Turtle cartoons and films.

There are a number of highly charged scenes and one-liners throughout that had my heart going and hit all the right buttons for a Turtle fan.




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All in all, top effects and action, tons of fun to watch and laugh out loud funny on more than several occasions… sadly, the screenplay is a bit of a mess and the story isn’t built on like with the predecessors… a top Turtle film though and is everything, action wise, a Turtle film should be…

… but is it culturally relevant anymore? I think this film may have arrived 10 years too late.

Still top fun though. Worth a go if you’re a fan.


My Rating: 86%