I know what you’re thinking. Yet another TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES reboot? How desperate is Nickelodeon to make this property the cash cow they want it to be? How many more lame incarnations of this franchise can there be before they finally put it to bed?
Well ladies and gentlemen, trust me, I had very low expectations for this version, but in short, this one kicks ass – and it won’t ruin your childhood memories of the Turtles, either. It’s a basic origin story that starts out a little slow with some exposition before the Turtles show up, but once they do, it’s nearly non-stop action.
The story line is fairly simple (remember this is a franchise for kids.) In short, New York City is under siege by the evil Shredder and his Foot Clan, which in this incarnation is more of a black ops military troupe than ninjas, like the original. April O’Neil, played as a brunette by Megan Fox (for the life of me, I can’t figure out why they didn’t give her the signature red hair) and her cameraman, Vern Fenwick (Will Arnett), must help the Turtles stop his diabolical plan. A pretty straight forward superhero flick storyline. Nothing complicated, and nothing over the top. Once the story begins to unfold, it’s predictable what the “surprise” twists will be and how it will end, but this Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles roller coaster is one “shell” of a ride!
The design and movement of the CG Turtles is handled by Industrial Light & Magic, and they did a flawless job. The characters look ultra realistic. You truly can not tell that these 6 ft 5 behemoth reptiles – with mad ninja skills of course – are animated turtles at all. And the characters of each Turtle are developed just as well as their appearance. Raphael is the alpha male. Donatello is the tech geek. Michelangelo is the surfer dude (though not nearly as much as the 1980’s cartoon series.) And Leonardo is the most disciplined.
The film is not without it’s cheesy elements, this is after all a Michael Bay (he of the Transformers series) production. Though they left out Corey Feldman, and Vanilla Ice does not perform on the soundtrack (or make a musical cameo appearance, thankfully…though I could hear several audience members signing “Go Ninja Go!” as we waited for the film to start) there is a certain amount of crude teenage level humor, which is appropriate to keep the mood of the film light. Bay’s fingerprints can also be seen in the over-the-top action sequences, one of which is the highlight of the film and involves an 18 wheeler, the film’s humans, and the Turtles all sliding down an ice capped mountain. It really is an INSANE sequence.
Though it deviates slightly from the original storyline, and a few things have been changed to make this one original as best it could be, this is what a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie should be. It’s a high octane superhero origin flick, and this sci-fi/comic geek loved every minute of it!
Opens: August 8 (Paramount Pictures)
Run time: 101 Minutes
And just for old time’s sake: