Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
One of the most annoying things that dwells in the gloomy cellar-bedrooms of nerd culture are the members among the group that demand that things be done "realistically" or made "dark" or "hardcore" versions of stuff that is absolutely ridiculous. All of those are real words I've heard used by people when describing their expectations for this film version of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The title alone is stupid and silly. The characters are the stuff you're suppose to love when you're 10-years-old. So now that you're a 28-year-old that is sitting behind a keyboard getting ready to crap all over a movie because it "didn't get as real as it should have;" you're pathetic and you need to get a grip. That being said, this is a pretty bad movie but not for any of those reasons.
I was a child of the '80s and like every boy since that decade, I went through a period of time where I was obsessed with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I never read the comic series but I watched the show, had the toys, played the video games and pretended to be them (my character of choice was Donatello because every kid could easily get their hands on a broomstick and look legit). As I grew older, I also grew out of my interest in the heroes in a halfshell because there's no depth to them and you're not suppose to love them as an adult outside of nostalgia. They're not X-Men that are analogies for racism and hatred in our society. They're not Batman in that they're characters layered with deep angst. They're stupid, silly, funny, ninja reptiles. That much is pulled off successfully in this film but that's about it.
Directory Jonathan Liebesman (Wrath of the Titans, Battlefield Los Angeles) isn't a bad director; he's just a guy cruising for a big payday over making something with merit. His first film was Darkness Falls which was a pretty cool horror film with an original concept. Everything he's done since then has been vapid and poorly executed. Ninja Turtles is no exception and teaming up with Michael Bay (Transformers, Bad Boys) as an Executive Producer didn't help. Every frame of this movie stinks of Bay's influence and by the time it's over it feels like a Michael Bay movie with its over-the-top action sequences and bloated CGI FX.
Despite taking almost an hour to get to a major action sequence, it's well worth the wait. The most notable is a fight involving Hummers and a truck falling down the side of a snowy mountain (EXACTLY like what Bay did in Bad Boys 2) that is filled with so many "WTF" moments it almost trumps the level of fun you have while watching it. This sequence starts a non-stop action orgy till the end credits roll and I enjoyed every second of it for being the eye-candy it's meant to be. Is it worth sitting through two acts of a boring and pithy movie to get to it? I think it is but you might disagree.
Despite the CGI in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles being quality and fairly realistic looking, it feels like you're watching a cartoon. The reason why the 1990 version, directed by Steve Barron, was so much better was that all of it felt organic. Jim Henson Studios made 100 lbs. rubber suits that actors had to wear and still perform martial arts moves in and that was amazing to see! What we have here is something that we've seen a hundred times over and done better in most examples. This should have been made to rekindle nostalgia in us oldheads and launch a whole new generation of fans (which it might do -- all the kids in the audience seemed to love it), but what it did instead was come across like a money-grab and plundering of something that many of us remember fondly. If you want to whore out my childhood, I'm actually fine with that; but at least make me believe you have good intentions for doing it. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has moments of fun but when it's all over I just felt used, dirty and covered in ooze.
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