Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Review

Thanks to Gofobo I got tickets to an early screening of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles! This wasn't a movie that I was particularly excited for or was planning to go see in the theaters but hey, if I'm getting free tickets why not. I don't have any real attachment to TMNT as I've never read the comics, watched the TV show, or seen any of the previous movies. I only know of them through popular culture and I watched the very first episode of the new Nickelodeon version once as I was curious to what the CG style looks like. Which is good in a way, I suppose, as I can go into the movie with no preconception and can judge this movie by in itself.

The movie starts and I immediately cringe. It starts off with a shaky cam which I felt was unmotivated and looked terrible. Additionally, maybe because I had just put on my 3D glasses so my eyes haven't adjusted, but the stereoscope also felt off and it was really difficult to focus on anything on screen along with the shaky cam.

I know people like to hate on Megan Fox ever since Transformers, and were all up in a rage when she was cast as April O'Neil but I didn't really mind her in the role. What I did have a problem with is the blatant female objectification sexism repeated throughout the movie and Vernon (Will Arnett) continuously being a creeper. It felt really tiring.

Another thing that people like to hate on in this movie are those turtle faces. I don't like them much either as I find them unappealing. There's a flashback in the movie to the turtles when they were children but unfortunately I don't find those appealing either and just as creepy. What I do enjoy though is that their head shapes are all different and reflect quite well upon their personalities, such as Donatello having a larger forehead and Mikey with a wider face. In the above image, their face masks are quite bright and colorful but in the movie they were a bit more darker and dirtier, which makes sense since they live in a sewer, but I would have still liked the colors to be a bit more vibrant for easier differentiation, particularly in the battle scenes. I don't particularly care for the Chinese characters/Kanji that shows up on their headbands though as it reminds me of bad tattoos that people get thinking that it looks cool but instead reads "idiot" or "chicken noodle soup".

There was some extremely blatant product placement in the movie which made me roll my eyes. From the very beginning we have a video call and a Skype logo branded across the phone's screen. Then there's Mikey's very specific Orange Crush Soda and I believe I saw some Dre Beats headphones on Donatello.

The plot though. At first I thought the movie wasn't too bad but then I just felt it slipping as the movie went on as there were various discrepancies. I felt that there was a lot of pointless dialogue that happens throughout the movie. They were probably inserted to get a laugh out of the audience but at least half the time the theater was indifferent with no reaction. One of the main ones that I didn't understand is how Splinter knew of the entire history between Sachs and Shredder when he has been a rat living in the sewers all the years. In this storyline, Splinter is a rat who mutated and not a human who mutated into a rat so it makes no sense of how he would have this knowledge. I found it extremely confusing as to the relationship between characters, such as Sachs and Shredder. Shredder is Sachs sensei so they would have a pretty close relationship but it felt extremely odd that Shredder would speak in Japanese but Sachs would reply back in English; being fluently bilingual if someone speaks to me in Chinese I would reply back in kind and not in a different language. Young April's actions were extremely confusing. First, why was she in her father's lab all the time? April's father works in a top security research lab on a private project and I doubt one would just bring your daughter to work repeatedly. The fire that happened was just as confusing. Why was April even at the company at that time to be able to save the animals? She was in the lab with the fire, did she not see her father at all as he was supposedly there and killed? Then, April's action of dumping the animals into a sewer was just as baffling. I assume Splinter was also injected with the Mutant-Gen same as the turtles although it was never explicitly mentioned. However, if that's the case why does Shredder go so far as to nearly killing Splinter and not attempting to capture him? Instead, the Foot Clan only takes the turtles. If that's not the case then how did Splinter even mutate in the first place? Do they have to be alive for the Mutant-Gen to be extracted? The Foot Clan assumed Raphael died so they just leave him even though he still has perfectly good blood but they just leave him behind. The Foot Clan captures the turtles and begins extracting the Mutant-Gen. What gets me is that they then immediately begin their plan to poison the entire city. They haven't even finished extracting the Mutant-Gen yet and they are jumping the gun. They don't know if they have enough, if the Mutant-Gen is the antidote in it's raw form are has to be further processed, or if they are able to successfully duplicated it. Not to mention, the Foot Clan didn't even inoculate themselves first. While I was watching the movie I saw the characters 家門 which is explained to mean family in Japanese and it struck me as very odd. First, to me the characters read "house door" and the term I'm familiar with is "kazoku" or 家族. According to Google Translate the characters can mean family or clan and is more probably to be "kamon" which means house crest or emblem. Still odd and especially strange that the turtles would leave behind evidence that they've been somewhere since they are trying to keep themselves as a secret, and even more so since there was no explanation as to why they would tag with those characters. So many cliches in the movie. For example, there is the "no I'm not crying, it's just dusty", awkward elevator scene, or April shouting for no apparent reason other than to notify Shredder that she's in the vicinity. Some people laughed but I more or less just rolled my eyes. Maybe it's from watching to much CinemaSins. I don't know too much about medical technology but I don't think blood transfusion machines have an option to inject adrenaline. Even more ridiculous is not only do the turtles know that the machine they are hooked up to is able to inject them with adrenaline but also that there is also a giant button on the screen on the machine for April to push. When this scene happened with the button the theater erupted in laughter at how ridiculous it was. Also, it does not seem safe to inject adrenaline to get their blood pumping while being hooked up to a machine which is drawing out their blood. While on the topic of blood drawing, it also makes no sense that Sachs wants to drain the turtles dry in one go. To me it would make more sense to draw as much as possible without killing the turtles, let them recover, and repeat. That way Sachs would have an unlimited supply of Mutant-Gen and not a one time deal. I did not understand how the turtles survived the fall towards the end. They fell from the top of a building and tumbled all the way down. The camera does a closeup on the turtles and they just somehow magically survived the fall. Yay mutant powers and being main characters I guess?

CG and VFX wise were great. I loved the details on the turtles with their dirt and grim and the various nicks and cuts. The lighting and rendering were beautiful and spot-on. While I didn't particularly care for the scene with the turtles waiting awkwardly in an elevator, I did enjoy it visually as the turtles are all shown in light and there were some nice reflections going on in the elevator's metal walls. Shredder's suit was badass. The snow was amazing. The animation was really well done, particularly liked the fighting scenes and how Splinter used his tail. I do find it curious though as to why Leonardo has a separate cast for the character and voice actor while all the other turtles had just a single actor.

I wish that the movie would have referenced the Ninja Turtles opening song somewhere in the movie, such as towards the end when the turtles pull up in their new car, or at least in the credits. Unfortunately not.

I went into the movie with no real attachment to TMNT and left the theater still feeling the same. It wasn't a waste though since I got to see some nice CG and VFX work.