My 2014 Movies: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (#20)

I remember when Michael Bay’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was first announced. That was a fun time only to see the entire Internet descend into mayhem and outrage. Many of us are familiar with criticisms of Michael Bay’s film adaptations, namely Transformers. Bay is known to not do well with beloved 80’s franchises from a critical point of view despite always impressing in a financial point of view. The film was finally released in all of its CGI glory in the summer. My consensus: that could’ve been way worse.

Michelangelo, Leonardo, Donatello, and Raphael are the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The four turtles and a rat named Splinter were part of a science experiment years before. All five were infected by a mutagen which made them all human-like creatures. The rat Splinter takes the role of fathering the four young turtles and taught them ninjitsu in honor of the experimenter.

The film begins years later with April O’Neil, a journalist played by Megan Fox, discovering the turtles and rat. Turns out the same scientist that created them was April’s father who was killed by his partner. The turtles’ discovery causes the turtles to be hunted down by this partner, who teams up with Shredder, the leader of a gang called the Foot Clan, to annihilate and experiment on the turtles for evil purposes.

That is the gist of it I guess. If there really is a main issue worth noting is that the film isn’t too memorable in the story department. I struggled to recall much of the movie’s main conflict to the point of having to look it up. By then, everything started coming back to me. What I recalled was a rather dull and uninteresting story.

In past entries on this countdown, I’ve mentioned films I barely remember and slandered them, because a film being unmemorable is something I detest in my movies. So, you may be asking what made this one rank this high on the list. Well, while I don’t remember elements of the story, I do remember the action scenes. That’s more than I could say about films like Transformers 4.

The action scenes and effects were the reason I stood in my seat for as long as I did. While I admit I’m not too big a fan of the character models, those models did some fun looking crap. I still recall the climax on the side of the building, the fight down the mountain slope, and the fight in the sewers. They were all amusing to watch while managing not to get old (like Transformers 4).

Additionally, the film was actually capable of making me laugh once or twice. Sure they were simple and stupid jokes, but I still laughed for whatever that’s worth.

That’s not to say that the writing is anything of high merit, though. The story isn’t all that cativating, the writing consists of some really dumb lines and moments, and the film’s general charm is all over the place. That’s the movie’s greatest struggle.

I wouldn’t call myself the biggest Turtle fan in the world, but I like any other American boy have at least basic experience with the Turtle cartoons and movies. (I personally have seen two of the original movies and some episodes of the 80’s cartoon show). I know that the charm of the Turtles is one of the most important aspects of what made them so enjoyable. This movie tries to reach that level of charm at some points, but constantly flip flops between an overly-serious, adult action film tone and the goofy, cartoony tone. All the movie had to do was pick a direction to go all the way with or find the correct balance. That makes some parts more memorable than others and makes the film seem unbalanced.

This is a very difficult movie to talk about. In reality this film should be a lot lower on this list. For some strange reason, though, I am willing to watch it again, even more so than the past films on the countdown. That’s the source of my reasoning.

As a Michael Bay production, the high budget of his projects always manages to show. Camerawork, special effects, and other production values are all fine and good. Acting is passable. The special effects are of course amazing. The score was complimentary to the action scenes while the licensed sings served to make for comedic effect. There is one point of which that is actually well-placed.

I very well realize that this overview is all over the place, but hopefully you see where I am coming from. I guess my point is that compared to what I expected out of this movie (very little), this was way better than expected.

I will recommend this film to those looking for a mindless action movie to entertain you on a boring night or afternoon. Kids who are fans of the Transformers films will be at home here. Turtle purists, you may be surprised to know that the turtles are defined in their personalities, but I’m almost certain you’ll take issue with some of the film’s decisions. It’s most certainly a nice rental if you’re interested.

View #19 here!

I’m SBox180. Thanks for reading!

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