With the words ‘Michael’ and ‘Bay’ in the credits, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot was destined to be pretty bad right…? Right.
Turtles Leonardo (Johnny Knoxville), Raphael (Alan Richtson),Michelangelo (Noel Fisher) and Donatello (Jeremy Howard), having been trained under the watchful eye of their guardian Splinter (Tony Shahloub) must team up with reporter April O’Neil (Megan Fox) to take down Shredder and his deadly terrorist group known as the foot clan. And that’s all there is to it really.
Starting with the performances, the motion capture for the turtles are done really well; the effects in general are pretty spectacular, especially during fight scenes where Shredder, who looks big and cumbersome, moves with cartoon-esque swiftness with the turtles. These really light up the impressive battle scenes throughout the movie. Though this isn’t really the performances of the actors themselves. The voice actors for the turtles all do a fine job, each turtle has his own unique personality which stays (fairly) close to the source material. Safe to say, they are definitely brought to life in an almost believable fashion, which is an impressive achievement for a bunch of reptiles led by a rat. Megan Fox however, can’t act. She couldn’t in the Transformers movies and she still can’t now, no matter how hard Michael Bay tries to get her to do so. This means she’s largely used as eye candy with stupidly immature jokes crammed about her everywhere (cue Michelangelo’s entire character, the perverted bastard.) However, she is made bearable by a reasonably funny Will Arnett who tries his best to squeeze as much as possible from the shit script.
And here we hit the problems. TMNT is a weird film. It feels like a Michael Bay film trying, for once, to actually be a good movie. The first half an hour and the third act are actually good. April O’neil is introduced well, the turtles are shrouded in mystery, William Fichtner’s character is obviously evil and the final battle is exciting and, at least tries, to be heartfelt. However, for every good point, the movie ninjitsus a piece of crap, as if on purpose, as if Michael Bay can’t help himself, onto the screen. The final battle is visually impressive, it’s exciting, it’s heartfelt… it’s also scene for scene a direct copy of the climax of The Amazing Spiderman. Why would Michael Bay want to copy the ending to an already poor film? Who knows. The beginning builds tension and the introduction of the characters is fun and entertaining… but the streams and streams of ugly exposition and the way the bad guy monologues his plan the turtles is just lazy. ‘Let me explain to you our plan, it’s best you know so at least someone has a chance of stopping us and telling the world we’re bad guys.’ What is the point? Speaking of the plan, it actually doesn’t really benefit Shredder at all, only his henchman Eric Sachs, but the movie glosses over that like it’s no issue.
This is where the movie’s biggest problem comes in. With all the glossing over, ugly exposition and lazy storytelling, the whole thing is FAR TOO SHORT. It clocks in at just over 90 minutes and when you’re used to the 2 and a half hour behemoth Transformers movies, the transition between that and this leads to an extremely rushed affair. We get no time to see Splinter’s relationship with his turtles apart from a rushed flashback, the turtles actually get very little action time because there’s hardly enough time for anything to really happen in the movie and Megan Fox’s character isn’t given anywhere near enough time to continue being completely uninteresting. What this leads to is, simply put… a feeling of carelessness from the filmmakers. With all the attention on spectacle, Michael Bay for a change should have indulged himself with another 30 minutes, at least of screen time. Because he doesn’t, personalities, like Raphael’s angst towards his brothers, seem petty and unfounded. It literally feels like;
Shredder finds turtles.
Shredder starts his evil plan.
Turtles stop evil plan.
To really get a feel for how rushed the film actually is, you will have to watch it. For this reason, it is a huge disappointment and wastes the good beginning and introduction of the characters. Also, Shredder is shit. He was played by some Japanese guy and his motivation seemed to be ‘I’m not American, so I hate America.’
Good characters wasted by a largely poor script. What the shell is this?