Saturday, August 9, 2014

Movie Review -- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

After a twenty-year absence, the Ninja Turtles are back on the big screen in live-action form. I'm here to tell fans young and old if it's worth your time.

The story should be familiar to Turtles fans. New York City is being terrorized by a crime syndicate called the Foot Clan. Reporter April O'Neal (Megan Fox) thinks she's found the story of the year in their crimes. But she gets in over her head when they take her and others hostage in the subway. Fortunately, four mysterious vigilantes take out the baddies and save her. She pursues them and learns their shocking secret: they're teenage mutant turtles who are also ninjas! There's born leader Donatello (Johnny Knoxville??), hot-head Raphael (Alan Ritchson), nerdy Donatello (Jeremy Howard) and, of course, party animal Michelangelo (Noel Fisher). Oh, and we can't forget about their rat sensei Splinter (Tony Shalhoub). April realizes these are the very same animals she used to have as pets while they were being experimented on by industrialist Eric Sacks (William Fichtner). She befriends them, but soon becomes a target from the Foot Clan's leader, the evil Shredder (Tohoru Masamune). This isn't the same impotent villain from the old cartoon; this guy's got his own samurai Iron Man suit and he's looking to make some turtle soup with his many blades. After he attacks the sewers and delivers what could very well be a mortal wound to Splinter, it's up to the turtles, April and her friend Vern (Will Arnett) to save the day. Can they stop Shredder from killing scores of innocent people in his bid for control of New York.

At this moment, I'd like to give you a disclaimer: I've been a Ninja Turtles fan from the very beginning, by which I mean their beginning. I followed their exploits in the 80s with great zeal and I acquired every piece of memorabilia I possibly could. I had the action figures, the vehicles, the clothes, the plastic weapons, the sewer play set, the coloring books, the stickers found in fruit pies, the videogames--hell, I even got the cereal even though I wasn't too crazy about the taste (it was Ninja Turtles, dammit!). This was truly a franchise brimming with imagination. Therefore, I must confess this review may be colored by nostalgia.

Nevertheless, I feel this reboot is pretty good. It stays remarkably faithful to the source material; the turtles look like their figures, their various personalities are correct, and in true Turtles fashion, the plot never takes itself too seriously. Sure, it isn't Citizen Kane, but it's not supposed to be. It's supposed to be a movie to please Ninja Turtles fans, and in that respect, it succeeds. By now, every person on the planet knows whether or not they like the Turtles. If you do, hurry up and go see this movie. 

I just hope they add more characters to the sequel. This film doesn't have Krang, Bebop, Rocksteady, or any of the other zillion Turtles characters, and there is certainly a wealth of source material to be tapped.

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