A few weeks ago, the geek world fell into despair. Guardians of the Galaxy, far and away the best movie of the summer, had been beaten in its second weekend by a movie everyone had been dreading - the Michael Bay-produced adaptation of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. And with good reason - everything we’d seen in the trailers showed us a bland, humorless world of Bayformers style explosions and giant robots.
This weekend, given two hours or so to see a movie and not able to see Guardians for the fourth time, I finally gave in a purchased a ticket to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Was it bad? Was it really bad? Was it Revenge of the Fallen bad? All these questions and more will be answered, as you read on.
First of all, spoilers ahead, for those of you who care.
Second of all, the answer to all three questions above: No.
The fact that Ninja Turtles is a decent movie is a huge surprise, given the trailers and the producer. Is it a great movie? No. There are definitely still some major problems with it. Let’s take a look:
Who let this through? Who allowed this? The turtles have noses, and dead eyes, and are so over-designed that they look kind of terrifying. They’re also god-damn-gigantic, which makes no sense for creatures that are supposed to be lithe and stealthy. Each character is given a distinct costume to show off their interests - which is actually a great idea. But there’s so much stuff crammed onto each Turtle that they just look like a confusing mess. And they’re not nearly as terrifying as-
I cannot find a single publicity photo of Splinter that shows his face, so this will have to do. Luckily, it’s a good representation. His face is the worst CG effect in the movie, with jet-black eyes and fur that looks like it came straight out of Monsters Inc, ten years ago. Combine that with two major problems: 1) He’s played by a white dude. (Tony Shaloub. Who’s a great actor! But not a great Splinter.) A white dude who’s not even trying to do a Japanese accent. 2) In this version, Splinter is not a Japanese warrior who knows Ninjitsu from years of training, he’s a mutated rat who accidentally found a book on Ninjitsu in the sewer. It’s…a bit hard to swallow.
Poor Megan Fox. Seriously - after proving that she was completely replaceable in the Transformers series, her old boss brought her back for this one, and it’s almost exactly as bad as we’d feared. I give her a lot of credit, she’s clearly trying like her career depends on it. And it’s certainly not, say, a Kristin Stewart performance. She shows emotion, and even a little character growth…but her line readings are so consistently terrible that it takes you right out of the movie. And this movie cannot afford to do that.
That’s about what we expected. So why do I still call it a decent movie? Because, the fact is, I came out of it with a big smile on my face. There are huge chunks of this film that are flat out fun, and you can tell director Jonathan Liebsman and crew had an understanding of their source material that many Bay adaptations often lack. So here’s what’s good, or even great about this film:
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