Movie Review – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Donatello. Leonardo. Raphael. Michelangelo. Ah, how we’ve missed you turtles!
5 years after Nickolodeon had obtained the rights to the entire series in 2009, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles finally shows up on screen to much online vitriol on its skin textures, Michael Bay’s alien insinuation and miscast of Megan Fox. But caustic remarks aside, fans are flocking for nostalgia’s sake and it turns out that this could just be a worthwhile trip down the sewers.
The aforementioned bombshell, Fox, plays April O’Neal, a TV reporter with an appetite for a breaking story, which sets her on a path to meet the protagonist turtles alongside co-worker Vernon Fenwick (Will Arnett).
And before you know it, the audience is enshrouded in a simple plot of the turtles pitting themselves against the evil overlord Shredder (Tohoru Masamune) set to ruin everyone’s favorite New York City.
Long-time fans of the series will be pleased to know that the weapons the turtles wield, such as Leonardo’s katanas and Donatello’s staff, remain the same in the movie, bringing forth a consistency and some form of nostalgia. This of course, includes some of their signature phrases (“Cowabunga” anyone?).
Besides staying faithful to the original cartoon and comic series in the 80s, the action scenes are equally good. The battles between the turtles and Shredder, including master Splinter (voiced by Tony Shalhoub), will keep fans entertained.
To add that extra layer of oomph, producer Michael Bay also threw in his trademark explosives. While they may have been at a point of unacceptability in the Transformers series, it is relatively tolerable here. An example would be a car chase-cum-combat scene in the outskirts of New York set in beautiful scenic snow, done with much aplomb.
Of course, the humor really lightened things up and gave audiences a jolly good laugh even in some of the most intense scenes, such as the turtles breaking out into song and dance in an elevator before confronting Shredder. And in a pop culture reference to online cat videos, Michelangelo’s “It’s a cat that plays “Chopsticks” using chopsticks!” liner is kind of cute and works on the audience.
The CGI is pretty well done too, and it only gets better in 3D, such as the impressive replication of the sewers. Not many details were compromised on creating the characters as well, from Donatello’s electronic goggles, the computers in their sewer base, Shredder’s “modern shogun” armor and even their facial features. Draped in motion-capture suits complete with full-sized shells, Alan Ritchson, Noel Fisher, Jeremy Howard and Pete Ploszek did a splendid job in recreating that intense action the audience loves.
While humor and action is great, the movie suffers from a predictable action-centric plot and not much of a character (or rather turtle) development.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fulfills the criteria for a good action story with loads of action, contagious humor and awesome graphics. Don’t be surprised if you walk out of the theater feeling a little cowabunga dude, or whatever that means.
Duration: 110 minutes
Release Date: 8 August
Censorship Rating: PG
Genre: Science fiction, action, comedy
Director: Jonathan Liebesman
Images Courtesy of United International Pictures Singapore