Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2014Title: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014)
Director: Jonathan Liebesman
Runtime: 101 minutes

Some of you may have checked out my series review of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles films. If you didn’t, I am a huge fan of the Turtles. Dating back to when I was a kid, the Turtles were always my favorite toys to collect and cartoon to watch. Heck, I still have all of the original toys from the cartoon and the movie.

When word came out about this new Turtles film I was worried. Not because Michael Bay’s Platinum Dune company was producing it – they also did the Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake from 2003 which I loved – but because of the rumors of the alien origins rather than the ooze that the comics, cartoon, and previous films have used.

This Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film is a 100% reboot. You don’t need any former knowledge of the Turtles to enjoy it, and, instead of building itself around nostalgia, the film takes us back to the beginning and offers a few changes, some of which are questionable, but I’ll leave those out.

April O’Neil is a reporter for Channel Six. She does fluff pieces about exercise and other silly things. She’s following a lead on the Foot Clan’s activity, a group of thieves who have been breaking into shipyards to steal chemicals for unknown reasons. She witnesses a vigilante attacking the Foot Clan, and goes on the hunt for who this could be. If you’ve seen the trailers, you know that she meets the Turtles, and that Shredder is the leader of the Foot Clan. This TMNT film changes a few bits of the origin story: it opens with Master Splinter talking about the boys, who don’t show up until about twenty minutes into the film. This is as much April’s story as it is the Turtles.

Megan Fox wouldn’t be my first choice for the role of April, but I have to say that she does a fantastic job of being a strong female lead, something that is not only lacking in today’s cinema, but is unexpected in a TMNT film. Everyone pretty much gives it their all; there are a few rough bits with Will Arnett’s character, but I’m going to blame that more on the script than him.

The script can be hit or miss at times with its jokes, but here’s the thing: I laughed a lot during this movie. Michelangelo’s humor shines through, and his flirtation with April is great, and never got old for me. Each Turtle keeps their traits from the other source materials. They aren’t the team we know today, but instead a growing set of brothers trying to figure themselves out. Hell, they are “teenagers” for a reason. A lot of early reviews talk about an elevator scene near the end of the film being the only true highlight because it’s the only time the movie captures the chemistry of the Turtles, but I would have to disagree. That scene is the turning point for the Turtles. It is where the Turtles become a truly functioning unit, instead of just brothers.

I love the new design of the Turtles. They look flat out badass, especially Ralph, who has the bulk and build of a giant bull that isn’t going to take any crap. The film is very heavy on the CGI, and there’s the snow scene from the trailers that gets so hectic that it is easy to lose track of what is going on because there is just so much happening. Honestly, once the film hits the midway point, it’s a non-stop action rush until the finale, which reminded me of the original Turtles film from 1990. I watched Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in 3D, and I have to say that the 3D was very enjoyable, with lots of eye-popping scenes, it really just added to the film experience.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has its flaws, and it does make some questionable changes to the origins of the Turtles. However, this isn’t 1990, and these aren’t exactly the Turtles we once knew. Their personalities are there, though, and they have been super beefed up, but I had a blast watching this movie. It’s funny and entertaining, and when I pay $14 to see a film in 3D, I expect nothing more than to be entertained. Call me a fanboy, or just a blinded, nostalgic fool, but this is easily one of the funniest experiences I’ve had in the theatre all year.

three_and_a_half_stars

Chris Ranson
Film Critic at Cinefessions

Chris was raised on horror films, which gave him a deep love for the genre, especially its most quirky and offbeat titles (like A Nightmare on Elm Street 2). This love quickly turned into an obsession for cinema in 1997, when he decided he needed to see every major theatrical release. Video games (JRPGs), reading (anything but fantasy), and reality television (Survivor) are just some of his other passions. He’s been with Cinefessions since 2013, and has been writing reviews all over the internet for the past twelve years.