The Reviewinator: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014)

TeenageMutantNinjaTurtlePosterOh, Michael Bay. Michael Bay, Michael Bay, Michael Bay. I know he didn’t direct this movie, but wow is his presence felt. And I’m not just talking about the “Fox-y” lady he cast as April O’Neil.

Here goes: Channel 6 reporter April O’Neil (Megan Fox) is trying to make a name for herself, so she relentlessly pursues the evil Foot Clan, hoping it’ll be her big story. She winds up getting herself held hostage in a subway station, only to be saved by four Ninja-like heroes, who she tracks to a rooftop and discovers that they are four giant mutant turtles! The problem with that whole setup is that it’s a big twist that’s completely ruined by reading the title of the movie. You cannot surprise people by waiting 30 minutes to show them precisely what they came here to see. It’s a waste of a first act that could have been better spent on the real main characters instead of their would-be girlfriend.

As the story progresses, one can’t help but feel like more could have been done with it. The rich bad guys need the turtles’ blood to make an antidote to a virus they plan on releasing to wipe out all of New York City, just so they can sell the cure to the survivors and become even richer. Yes, their plan is contingent on people surviving the deadly virus.

Unfortunately, character development of the turtles takes a back seat, a casualty of waiting 30 minutes to reveal them. You get the basics: Leonardo is the leader, Donatello is the nerd, Raphael is the bad boy, and Michelangelo is the surfer dude. But for anyone not already familiar with these characters, they’d have a tough time telling the turtles apart. And because the characters are never really fleshed out, the threat never feels all that threatening. The turtles bicker throughout about trivial things, make bad jokes, etc., but because they all look pretty much the same, your attention just kind of drifts off.

Speaking of looks, who in the hell thought these giant grotesque weapon-wielding monsters would be a good look for the Ninja Turtles? I’m not saying they’re frightening or anything, but they DO NOT look like good guys. You can barely even see the colored bandanas they wear, making it even MORE difficult to tell them apart.

The main villain in the movie is the Shredder. He’s the bad guy. Why? Because he’s the bad guy, that’s why. Like the turtles, there’s little in the way of character development for him, and he never really becomes the arch-nemesis he’s supposed to be. He just shows up halfway through the movie looking all evil and they fight from there. It’s a classic Michael Bay “here’s-what-you’re-expecting-so-give-me-money” tactic.

And while there is plenty of action — fighting in the sewer, a chase down a snowy mountain, and a climactic battle on top of a radio tower — it’s all CGI-ed to the point of involuntary nap time. It’s yet another big-budget cash-grab where producers just splatter the screen with marketable characters in hopes of getting a big enough opening weekend to produce an ever bigger-budgeted sequel.

TMNT is TNT for the soul.

1 out of 5

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