By Craig Singleton (Wigan, England)
The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were a fantastic part of my childhood. I loved the animated series, the merchandise and the first film that they did. The 1990 film holds a 90% score for me even though it has quite a few problems mainly regarding costumes, props and continuity errors. This year’s reboot has near killed my childhood. I am so angry about what I saw last night.
The focus in this film is on New York reporter April O’Neil played by Megan Fox who has now kissed and made up with executive producer Michael Bay even though she compared working for him was like working for Hitler causing her to be fired from making the third Transformers film. April trying to find leads into finding an organized crime group known as the Foot Clan. One night she stumbles across the criminals unloading a cargo of chemicals at the docks. They get interrupted however by a mysterious person who makes sure that their deal doesn’t take place. No one believes April but after she finds out that there are four vigilantes taking down the clan, she later comes face to face with them.
April is shocked to find that they are giant turtles that differ from each other in looks. She believes that they are trying to save the city from the clan and an evil foe named the Shredder who has a connection with her and the turtles.
This is one of my least enjoyable film going experience in the twenty plus years that I have been going to the cinemas. The premise of the turtles in how they become who they are is probably impossible but it’s an entertaining idea that excited me as a child and I even appreciate it as an adult. The back story given in this film was terribly done with children being the only ones that could enjoy I feel. The first feature film appealed to both adults and children. It was dark and violent, but it had great humor and physical comedy. As the series progressed, it got lighter only appealing to kids. The balance can be worked out because parents should enjoy the film just as much as their children. This film is hard to enjoy as an adult.
Nothing worked for me in terms of the plot. Didn’t like the main focus on April as her name is not in the title, I didn’t like the introduction to the turtles and I didn’t like how the character were seen to connect with one another. The problem is the writing. Megan Fox was given some terrible lines and couldn’t honestly do anything with the character. The turtles should have been the biggest highlight of the film, but they were horribly written. The comedy didn’t work at all. Michelangelo’s dialogue was completely desperate and I didn’t like how it was voiced by Noel Fisher. I didn’t like any of the voice actors. They lacked conviction and character I felt.
Not using men in costumes meant that motion capture was used for this film and I thought the overall look of the turtles was good. The fact that they are different in size and have different features was a good move too. Splinter looked terrible. The old, worn out animal that is a brilliant character alongside the turtles was not brought to screen here and his mannerisms annoyed me. A lot of the visual effects looked computerized. The sequence in the snowy mountains didn’t look authentic and was badly shot.
Michael Bay was originally supposed to direct, but then Jonathon Liebesman stepped forward into the chair. In my opinion though, it still is Michael Bay’s film. His influence overwhelms the entire film. Bay is a terrible storyteller, however his actual films are visually sound. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles looked like Transformers without the bots, had so many sound elements from Transformers and had the same style of shooting action scenes only in this film the camerawork was very shakily performed.
I honestly feel that Megan Fox tried her best with her role, but it just proves that she cannot perform dramatic acting. Her comedy is quite good, but displaying emotion is where she really struggles. Her voice for a start cannot handle being raised without breaking. The only actor that I liked was Will Arnett. His character didn’t exactly develop, but Arnett always brings charm to his performances.
When the film ended I felt like I didn’t really get to know the turtles. It felt like there was the introduction, there was the action, there was the rushed glimpse of character then it finished. It’s just a testament of the bad writing skills in which this film had. Each turtle was one dimensional. One tried to be funny at the time, one was moody, one was just seen as a leader and one was a nerd. None of them had the time to develop with a rushed plot that missed out how important the characters of the turtles are. This film just really focused on how well they can fight. Also you will find that they are terrible ninjas, a complete contrast to the animated series and first film.
My score for the film is 36%. Lowest mark for plot, highest for pacing. Currently my worst film of the year. I wasn’t honestly looking forward to it, but couldn’t believe it could have been done so terribly. There was no defining direction, no character development, terrible acting, terrible story and the visual effects in most action scenes didn’t hold up.