Summer Moviethon 2016: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014)

#13: June 25, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014)

Tonight, I dine on turtle soup.

I had never planned on seeing the Michael Bay-produced Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot for a number of reasons. For one, I'm generally anti-reboot. We all know the origins of the turtles; let's not go back there again. Two, I thought the Nickelodeon cartoon was well done and would have rather seen a feature-length version of that. Three, the turtles look awful in the film. Just horrible.

I mean, if you think about it, a half-human, half-turtle is a hideous thing, right? That's the stuff of nightmares. Even when considering how horrifying a mutated turtle that walks on its hind legs would look in real life, though, the characters for the reboot are still terrible.


So that was enough for me. Until I heard a few surprisingly good reviews ("It's better than you'd expect," friends said) and the movie came to my small town theater where our whole family can go see a movie for $20. We see just about every kid-friendly movie that comes through town, so I bit the bullet and watched it. And yes, it wasn't as bad as I expected.

Today was the first time I'd seen it since that initial viewing, and I still think it's pretty decent. Sure, April O'Neil is the worst reporter ever (who jots notes onto a pad in 2014?). Sure, it's silly that the turtles were once April's pets and Splinter became a master of ninjitsu by reading a book. Sure, there's more lens flare than in both of the new Star Trek films combined.

Still, there's some good here. Shredder seems pretty badass, even if his suit is way over the top and he appears to have arms entirely constructed out of oversized Swiss army knives. Some of the self-aware humor hits the mark, and as a veteran of the Transformers films, Megan Fox knows that her role is to look pretty and make the same three facial expressions all film long, so she's a great choice for O'Neil.

Expression number 1: Wide-eyed amazement.

Again, there's a lot not to like here. I could have done without the predictable subplot with Will Arnett as O'Neil's permanently friend-zoned cameraman, for example. But even if he's basically doing a Michael Bay impression, director Jonathan Liebesman can direct the shit out of an action sequence. Both the avalanche scene and the climactic rooftop fight are extremely well done, which is what takes this out of the C- or D range and makes it worth a viewing.

Grade: C+

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