Okay, so after waiting until the second-last screening at my local cinema, I’ve finally got around to watching the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film.

DISCLAIMER:
Most people know that I am a TMNT fan. Ever since the first cartoon in the 80’s, and then the first film in 1990 I have been hooked on the Ninja Turtles. I bought the toys, I watched the VHS tapes over-and-over, I got my female friends to play April while I played the turtles. I drew nothing but ninja turtles until I was eight.

I was a fan. A big fan.

But then the Power Ranger took over, and the turtles faded from Australia. But I was still a fan.

When the Turtles were being printed in Archie comics, I read them.

When they got their reboot in the late 90’s with the terrible live-action tv-series where they introduced a fifth female turtle, I was there. I wasn’t a fan, but I watched, and I managed to sieve nuggets of enjoyment.

But it wasn’t really when the 2003 cartoon was released that I was back on board. That cartoon was great, and it lead me to seek out the original source material in the form of the comic by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird.

I was back into turtles again.
END DISCLAIMER.

 

So, going to watch this film I was apprehensive. We’ve seen plenty of example of Hollywood ‘ruining our childhood.’ Much of this is dismissed as ‘hating’ and ‘haters,’ which I understand. Much of it is. But for some it’s because this ‘reboot’ of an older, much beloved franchise misses the point. They fail to deliver on the essence of what the original product was about. They twist and change the original story, characters and world to fit a new audience – and in the process they completely change it was what it was.

What’s the point? If you’re going to produce something completely different, just go and make your own characters, setting and world instead of feeding off others.

Anyway, many will dismissed my review as biased for these reasons. And that’s fine. That’s their opinion. But I feel I went into that film with an open mind, and my review will try to reflect that. Be warned, if you haven’t seen it, there will be spoilers.

So, firstly:

 

The Good.

I found it difficult to locate ‘good’ things about this film. Basically, if you like special effects and Megan Fox, then you are well catered for.

Character designs.

Even though I’m not a big fan of the designs, the turtles looked good. Their costumes didn’t make any sense, but they looked good. The imagery was sharp, and worked for the film they were presenting.

April O’Neil.

I’m not a Megan Fox fan. And I think her acting majorly let her down. But they did a good job of working April into this world. He introduction as a reporter for warm-and-fuzzy stories – like the fitness craze story we see her in – worked for their choice of actress.

Met modern expectations.

Special effects were good. Sound was good. Music was fine.

 

The Bad.

This list is fairly long. I’ll start by saying this:

No-one laughed at the jokes.

I was in a cinema packed with kid. And I mean packed. And not one of them laughed at the jokes made throughout the film. That’s a pretty big miss for a film intended for kids.

There was no fighting.

The fight scenes were terrible. These guys are ninjas. Ninjas. This means I want to see ninjas kicking butt. Every action scene was a series of quick-cutting camera shots in poor lighting – which showed nothing – or they were slow-mo shots of cars and gadgets. No actual ninjitsu.

Splinter and the turtles learned ninjitsu from a book.

Granted, in the original material Splinter learned ninjitsu by watching his owner, Hamato Yoshi, practise. Hamato Yoshi being a human ninja, and Splinter, at that time, being a normal, everyday pet rat. Ridiculous premise. But the idea that someone can learn a martial art like ninjitsu from a book well enough to instruct others, feels even more preposterous to me.

Of course, that probably explains why you hear their massive feet slapping against the ground all of the time. They never actually learned to be quiet.

The mutagen which turned Splinter and the turtles into humanoid creatures was intended as a ‘cure.’

This made no sense to me. Splinter and the turtles were being experimented upon to create a mutagen which would cure a poison which was going to be released into the city. If the mutagen was the cure, why was it being administered to the turtles? What was the point of that?

If it was to test the mutagen, why one rat and four turtles? Are these creatures genetically similar to humans?

If the mutagen was supposed to be a cure to the poison, why did it turn them into giant, powerful, humanoid creatures? Wouldn’t this mean that administering the mutagen to humans as a cure would make them super-human?

How did April’s dad manage to burn down the lab?

Sack said that April’s dad walked in on him, found out about the plan to poison the city between Sack and the Shredder, and so Sack gunned him down. If Sack gunned April’s father down when he found out about the plan, how did April’s dad have time to burn down the lab and research?

How did Splinter know about the Shredder?

The Shredder was never in the lab. Neither Splinter nor the turtles ever saw him. So how did Splinter even know about the Shredder, know that he was an enemy, and know that he was linked to Sack and the mutagen?

The Shredder is a ninja and raised Sack, but Sack doesn’t know how to fight.

The Shredder was Sack’s adoptive father. He knows ninjitsu. His subordinate (daughter?) Karai knows ninjitsu. Why doesn’t Sack? And why is his ‘Foot Clan’ made entirely of soldiers who know nothing of hand-to-hand combat?

Why do the Foot Soldiers take Leonardo, Michelangelo and Donatello, but leave the dying Splinter and, presumed, dead Raphael behind?

This bugged me. It was asking for trouble. They wanted to syphon the blood from the mutant bodies in order to extract the mutagen, so they could carry out their plan. So the bodies need to be live? Surely the more bodies the better. Grab the rat, grab the dead turtle, and take them with you. More blood, more mutagen.

Why did Splinter need more mutagen to survive?

If the idea is that mutagen makes the turtles, and splinter, super-human – stronger, faster, resistant to disease and better able to recover from wounds – why did Splinter need more mutagen to survive? Isn’t there already mutagen in his blood? Is there something unique about turtle DNA which makes their mutagen more potent? Is that why they were using four turtles for testing: They were incubators?

The turtles were bullet-proof.

Not just their shells. Everywhere. The turtles were bullet-proof. Ugh.

Conclusion.

This was a very shiny, highly CG-focused film, with a very sloppy and poorly written plot. It looks to me as if someone looked at the concept, went ‘Well, that’s a ridiculous concept – we can do whatever we want!’ And didn’t even attempt to make the story work.

Say what you will about the turtles. They are absurd characters – and they were supposed to be. They were created as a joke and a satire of the popular comic books at the time: Daredevil and New Mutants. But when it came to their origins, their creators tried to provide an explanation which made sense. It may have been preposterous, but, taken with a grain of salt, it was presented in a way which made it plausible in that world.

I believe that this movie failed to do that. They developed alternative – re. updated – explanations for the creation, development, and introduction of the turtles, which didn’t actually work together when looked at logically. Resulting in a plot which was a poorly sew-together mess.

If you’re a fan of mild, action-orientated films, and don’t care about well-developed and logical plots, you’ll be fine. You’re in for some fun, and you’ll meet some humorous and unlikely creatures along the way. If you’re like me and a flaw in the story will break the reality of the film, best avoided.

Personally, like all other turtles manifestations, I hope it will interest people enough to seek the original material.

 

 

I give it two slices.

-TM