Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014)

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film July 2014 poster.jpgNot Turtle-y Cowabungled

Director: Jonathan Liebesman
Running Time: 101 Minutes
Starring: Megan Fox, William Fichtner, Will Arnett

It's always a gamble when a new adaptation is made of a beloved product from peoples youth. There is something about these heroes in a half shell that ensures, even 30 years after their first appearance, they will remain popular enough to return to screens.

A kingpin known as The Shredder has an iron grip over New York City with his army, The Foot Clan. Intrepid reporter April O'Neil (Fox) discovers four vigilantes fighting the clan, who turn out to be mutated turtle brothers.

The films weak link is evident from early on, being the casting of Megan Fox in the lead role. The character of April O'Neil seems like a good way to provide an entry point into finding out about the Turtles, whose mystique in handled well early on by them being kept in the dark. The unfortunate fact of the matter is that following this dull, blank-faced character is made painful by Fox's wooden attempts at acting.

Will Arnett is wasted as he merely pines after April, while William Fichtner is underused in a generic role. Special mention goes to Whoopi Goldberg's two scene appearance, which comes off as an out of place attempt to jump her career back into life.

While Michael Bay may only have a producer credit, it seems Jonathan Liebesman has taken tips from the Transformers director. While the perverted shots only occur a few times, there is still endless amounts of product placement throughout, attempts of humor which come off as awkward and, despite some moments making for a fun ride, the action occasionally comes off as an incomprehensible mess.

The turtles, before an awful beatboxing session

Despite their animation needing work, the titular quartet are given great personalities and a good rapport with each other. Each one is given a chance to shine, with Raphael standing out for his aggressive nature and the heart hidden beneath. However, the repetitive moments of Michaelangelo hitting on April leaves him to come off as a creep. The Shredder makes for a formidable foe, but the Turtles' nemesis is let down by his overblown costume that resembles a mash-up of Edward Scissorhands' most prominent features, and a mangled tin opener.

One of the most jarring elements is the need to have some link between most of the characters. One or two of these links alone would be hard pill to swallow, but the many which are inserted is more like swallowing a jumbo sized bowling ball. It just makes for a superfluous way to tie everything up in a convenient bow.

Jonathan Liebesman may be a problematic director working with an uneven script, but his take on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles ensures that spending time with these four brothers is not a complete waste of your time. Not much hope may have been put in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles once Michael Bay's name was attached, but what's been put into this film is certainly a better showing than what's happened with the Transformers films. A sequel to this would be more welcoming, provided at least some of the negatives could be worked upon.