The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles haven’t exactly had the best track record when it comes to feature films. Most will claim that the 1990s film, the very first feature, is the best; most would be right. Where the comic books and the TV shows have been exciting and well-done, the films have always lacked something or been made far cheesier than the pizza the Turtles crave so much. Luckily the latest reboot of the series is among the more exciting ones of the bunch, but it probably won’t be having you shout, “Cowabunga!”
The film opens with a neat little summary of how the turtles came to be, and one would think that was all would be necessary, yet after meeting April O’Neil (Megan Fox), we are inundated with multiple summaries of the events that created the Turtles—and Splinter—as well as a flashback which further explains their past. The first act of the film is essentially just a repetition of explanations of what the Turtles are, who the Foot Clan is, and April being a persistent reporter. When the film finally does pick up—which takes a while to do so—it is able to somewhat make over for the lackluster beginning, aside from the horribly stupid plan of the Foot Clan. We come to learn that the Turtles were an accidental byproduct of some experimentation to find a “cure-all” medicine. Their blood is needed in order to create the cure again, but they were lost when a fire destroyed the lab. That horrible plan that I just mentioned is to release a deadly toxin into the atmosphere, and then sell the cure to the government to earn loads of money.
When people think of the Ninja Turtles they think of their awesome action scenes. Though this movie is advertised as packed full of action, most of said action lacks any sort of fun. The turtles in this movie are more like the Hulk than turtle, appearing over six-feet-tall and using mostly their strength to fight as opposed to their respective weapons. This really dumbs down the fight sequences because in other iterations they have their own unique fighting style. The fight scenes are really rough to watch; most of the time the camera is so tight on the action and moving so fast that it is hard to follow who is actually winning the fight or even what is going on. Aside from one exceptional sequence, most of the fighting is repetitive and difficult to comprehend; it doesn’t help that the camera is shaky either.
Other than the one great action sequence, the movie is saved from more failure thanks to the humorous banter between the Turtles. Leonardo, Raphael, Donatello, and Michelangelo, voiced by Johnny Knoxville, Alan Ritchson, Jeremy Howard, and Noel Fisher, respectively, are hilarious to watch. Unsurprisingly, Michelangelo is the funniest of the bunch as he develops a crush on April while also having some of the more comical writing of the film. Raphael and Leonardo are at odds in this one—as they always are—about who should be leader and whatnot, so it is good that they are bringing back that dynamic. Supporting them is a rather annoying and unnecessary supporting cast. Fox’s April takes center stage most of the film as she is trying to find her way to the bottom of the mystery. Though it is nice that they don’t use her appearance as a marketing draw (having it be Megan Fox is probably enough to draw in those who still want her after Transformers), someone else would have been far more suited for the type of role because she has become too much of a sex-symbol. She is assisted by Will Arnett who plays her love-struck cameraman who is almost the cheesiest and most unnecessary characters in the film. His dialogue is idiotic and his only real purpose in the film is to drive the news truck around. The only character who is more unnecessary is Whoopi Goldberg as April’s boss who appears to only be in it to add more to the star power and whose character has no overall significance to the story. William Fitchner, who plays the main villain other than Shredder, who is wickedly awesome, is just your run-of-the-mill bad guy. He does not bring anything new to the villainy table, and instead his motives are, like I said, stupid.
In the end, this is not the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles everyone has been waiting for. Though it is weighed down with excessive dialogue about the events prior to the film, contains some rather difficult to follow action scenes, and features one of the most absurd villainy plans, It is not a complete failure thanks to the Turtles and the fun action scene later in the film. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is a half-baked attempt at a reboot for our Heroes in a Half-Shell that will leave you hungry for something a little more—and for pizza.