Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (movie review)

teenage mutant ninja turtles 2

Jonathan Liebesman’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is a reboot to the movie universe, so it’s inevitable that fans of the original comics, 1990 movie, and ’80s cartoon will be extra cautious. With Michael Bay acting as producer, many were worried about what he would do to the film. The first warning sign was when he mentioned that the Turtles were going to be alien. (Don’t worry, they are mutated turtles thanks to the ooze.) Will Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles bring new fans to the franchise? Definitely. Will it please everybody? Probably not.

The story is pretty much similar to what you have seen before. The Shredder and his Foot Clan are oppressing New York City. April O’Neil gets caught in the crossfire and is saved by mysterious vigilantes. She then realizes that her saviors are turtles…and mutants…and teenagers…and ninjas.

How are the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles themselves? While I’m not a fan of their new design, I’m happy to say that the spirit of the Turtles are intact. Donatello is the genius, Michelangelo is the comic relief, Raphael is angry and rebellious, and Leonardo is the leader. The fan-favorite character is easily Mikey. He’s got the best lines and the best jokes. The Turtles together work great. They bicker, laugh, and collaborate together. They could have dialed back on Don’s “nerdiness” though.

The newest change is that April is now tied to the creation of the Turtles. It’s similar to how Tim Burton’s Batman tied the Joker to the death of Batman’s parents. In this one, April’s father is now an important part of creating the ooze that helped turned the Turtles into crime fighters. You may also recognize this from Marc Webb’s The Amazing Spider-Man. Both April and Peter Parker’s dads are scientists who have worked on a top-secret project that gives animals superpowers. Something happens and both parents are MIA.

Another change I’m not fond of is how powerful they are. The Turtles in the source material and ’90 movie are great because of their ninja skills. With this new version, they can pretty much just kick and punch their way out of a room without thinking, which negates the importance of them being a ninja. At one point they are even powerful enough to survive gunshots to the chest.

Megan Fox does an okay job as April, and her moments when she’s trying to convince people the Turtles are real are funny. Will Arnett as Vern Fenwick is fun to watch, as he’s always trying to score a date with April. William Fichtner does the best he can with his role, but nothing really stands out. Many in my theater were surprised by the appearance Whoopi Goldberg, but her role really isn’t significant.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is best when we get to see the Turtles together. The best sequence involves the Turtles inside the enemies’ base of operation and fighting in the snow. Although we don’t get enough of the Turtles being ninjas, at least we get a good dose of them being teenage turtles. The 1990 TMNT movie is still the strongest of the bunch and the closest to the source material, but this movie is worth checking out if you’re okay with some of the changes.

Rating: 3.5/5 Atoms

NR 3_5 Atoms - B-

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