Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Movie (2014)
Starring: 4 Turtles, Megan Fox, and The guy from Prison Break.
If you born around the 1980’s, you at some point probably fell in love with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series. Adapted from the comic books created by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird, the movie and animated series have no real common ties with the characters, except for the fact they are turtles and named after Renaissance painters. But why is this important? When you think of the Turtles franchise you do not think about the comic (generally speaking of course), but the original animated series, created by David Wise in 1987. The comic books were completely altered to suit a television program format. In fact, he had never heard of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles prior to getting the job. He took the job as he was approached by one of the biggest names in the industry at the time and couldn’t turn it down.
If you can’t tell already, we will be focusing mostly on the animated series in this review. So let’s move on!
Characters you should know about:
- Splinter: Instead of being Hamato Yoshi’s mutated pet rat, Splinter was a mutated version of Hamato Yoshi himself.
- Foot Soldiers: Foot soldiers were changed in animated series as well to an endless supply of robotic grunts, to appease parents.
- Baxter Stockman: A geek and Shredder’s lackey, who later mutated into a fly.
- April O’Neil: Lab assistant to Baxter Stockman in the comic books and changed to a reporter in a bright yellow jumpsuit for the animated series.
- Shredder: Real name Oroku Saki, the man who kills Splinter’s master and is the leader of the Foot clan.
The comic book's origin story of the Turtles is a really simple one (and most versions are similar to the outline of Splinter’s tale in the first issue of the comic).
Decades ago in Japan, there existed a ninja clan known as the Foot. Among the ranks was Hamato Yoshi, Splinter’s original owner. From his cage, Splinter mimicked Yoshi’s movements and formed knowledge of Ninjitsu. Both Yoshi and Nagi fell in love with a fellow clan member named Tang Shen. When she chose Yoshi over Nagi, Nagi arrived at Saki’s house and savagely beat Tang Shen until Yoshi saved her and killed him. They fled to New York City, where he founded a martial arts school. Meanwhile, the younger brother of Nagi, Oroku Saki, trained hard in his search for vengeance and became the head of New York’s Foot Clan operations. Once in New York, he adopted the mantel “The Shredder.” Hamato Yoshi is slain by Oroku Saki and Splinter (Yoshi’s pet rat) takes refuge in the sewers. There he discovers four baby turtles that have been dropped by a young boy. One day, Splinter returns to find the turtles crawling in strange ooze, and their mutations into humanoid creatures begins.
Splinter then teaches the turtles the art of Ninjutsu and names all the turtles after Renaissance painters.
Somehow, the movie doesn’t understand this concept! In the movie, the Turtles and Splinter are created in a lab and they learn kung-fu through a book found in the sewer....and this beginning of the movie tells you how it unfolds.
The movie starts with a comic book look that quickly translates into an abstract art-piece of things getting destroyed by weapons, which reminded me a lot of Fruit Ninja for some reason. A struggling reporter named April O’Neil is stuck doing low end stories and Michael Bay uses it as a way to show Megan Fox’s rack bouncing on a trampoline. At night, the Foot Clan run rampant through the town and becomes increasingly more dangerous; of course, April wants the story. She stumbles onto a robbery and gets the first glimpse at the Turtles from a distance.
April then puts herself in a hostage situation in which there are at least a dozen Foot soldiers, (who look more like an episode of “Call of Duty: Foot Soldier”) all equipped with high powered rifles. BTW NO ONE fires a shot the whole time while the Turtles show up and take them down.
April tries to bring evidence of the “Vigilante” to the station and is struck down, deemed crazy, and is eventually fired after seeing the Turtles in real life. Afterwards, she ends up at a police function where you learn that Eric Sacks leads the biggest technology building in New York and knows
April’s father, as they were partners in the lab. Her father was eventually killed by Sacks after he found out that Sacks was working for the Shredder? I am not going to try to make sense of this ….
She explains to Sacks about the turtles being real and that the experiments had worked (Oh, didn’t mention April was in her father's lab all the time and fed the Turtles pizza). So of course, the villains are now hunting for the Turtles and April makes it easy, as the business card that was given to her had a tracking beacon inside. Splinter sent the turtles out to get April, as he is worried for her safety, and they end up getting captured by the Foot, who come in once again not using martial arts, but high tech weaponry the likes of Tasers and tranquilizer rifles. This scene is also where you get your first glimpse at Shredder in his new armor. The armor looks badass, but what the hell! Seriously, his face looks like that of “Lord Zedd” from Power Rangers
and he has multiple blades that shoot out of his hands and magnetically come back to him! Did I mention evidently his suit give him Super Human Strength as well?
Either way, Mecha-Shredder almost kills Splinter (and why he doesn’t… I dunno), and then just leaves him there and tells the Foot to destroy the place; they then set off bombs that barely do any damage to the place. This allows Raphael, who was separated during the battle, to make it over and help Splinter escape from the rocks. Did I mention April was once again unharmed and still looks fresh as ever?
The story leads to Sacks' house lab, where he has the Turtles in special containment units (and also being restrained inside). Sacks' plan is to drain the mutagen from their bodies in order to have the only cure for a biological weapon he is about the release on the town. Raphael gets April to call the news van and take them through the gates of Sacks' mansion and into the building. Sacks then flies out to see Shredder at Sacks Tower and leaves them to fight the Foot, as he already has what he needs to start creating the antidote and hold the world hostage. Raphael shows up inside the lab and tries to break the glass, but can’t do it and then Shredder shows up? Mecha-Shredder beats the crap out of Raphael and cracks his shell and leaves! The Turtles are released by April by giving them adrenaline into their system? This allows them to not only break the restraints but bust through the glass that Raphael couldn’t…
They then race down the hill in a classic Michael Bay over the top trip. Full of car chases, explosions, car wrecks and eventually leads to a semi getting thrown off a cliff, Raphael, with his damaged shell, battering rams a Humvee and walks away unscathed…. Guess that’s some good duct tape he has on his back!
They make their way through the sewers to Sacks Tower just in time to get their asses handed to them by Mecha-Shredder again, while April and her cameraman try to stop Sacks and retrieve the Mutagen. She manages to use an unrealistic fire suppression system to blind Sacks and hit him over the head to take the canister.
All this leads up to a steel building structure breaking because the turtles were hanging on it. Donatello shuts down the chemical release and Shredder tears down the tower. April shows up and Shredder takes the canister and knocks her off the building.
Of course, she gets saved, and they all end up on the falling tower. Shredder falls to his doom… or does he? Then the turtles take a 50 story drop along with April on the side the steel tower, landing safely on the ground with all of them unhurt! WTF!
So that’s the movie, kids. On gigantic cluster of a good series turned into another exploitation of Michael Bay-ness, and what did we learn from this?
-Guns can’t hurt turtles, even if it doesn’t hit the shell.
-April's not a red head.
-Foot Soldiers are from Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and know absolutely no martial arts.
-Shredder is super powered to hell and, like Matt Hardy, is stronger than death.
-Missiles don’t blow up trucks, they just push them around.
-A long staff can flip a moving truck.
-Gravity ain't sh*t!
-Things break for no apparent reason.
-Splinter's voice sounds much too young.
-Existing story and character development mean absolutely nothing!!!
There are a few shining moments in this movie though.
Contrary to popular opinion, the Turtles look good, and there is even a time where Leo is down on all fours and you get a side shot where he looks like a turtle!
The movie portrays the Turtles as more of a “Teenage” side to them, that has not really been seen much in prior movies.
Shredder’s armor look amazing and is super detailed.
The best moment in the movie is where the Turtles beat box on the way up to face Shredder at the end. Click here to see the clip!
At the end of the day, TMNT tries to bring some of the dark, grittiness of the comic books back. While it keeps the light hearted tone of the animated series, it completely misses basic writing plots, physics, and basic story elements.
I give this movie a 2 out of 10