Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Paramount)
Rated PG-13 for sci-fi action violence
Starring Megan Fox, Will Arnett, William Fichtner, Alan Ritchson, Noel Fisher, Pete Ploszek, Johnny Knoxville (voice), Jeremy Howard, Danny Woodburn, Tony Shalhoub (voice), Tohoru Masamune, Whoopi Goldberg, Minae Noji, Abby Elliott, Madison Mason.
Written by Josh Appelbaum, André Nemec and Evan Daugherty, based on characters created by Peter Laird and Kevin Eastman.
Directed by Jonathan Liebesman.
Well, remakes and reboots happen. They are now the norm in the film industry, as it seems the lack of new material necessitates the “Hollywood Mulligan.” Such a dearth of content is why we get films like The Amazing Spider-Man (1 and 2), less than a decade after the previous trilogy ended, and a new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, out this weekend. Part of the problem is advances in CG technology, which tempts studios to “try it one more time, now that we have better special effects.” TMNT2014 is one of those high-tech do-overs, but was it worth the effort?
Megan Fox stars as April O’Neil, a driven TV reporter in New York, on the trail of a secret gang called the “Foot Clan,” led by a violent Japanese warlord named Shredder (Tohoru Masamune). She is joined in her quest by Fenwick (Will Arnett), a cameraman who also really wants to be her boyfriend. When April gets too close to the Foot Clan, a quartet of humanoid turtles shows up to save her.
The turtles (Leonardo, Michelangelo, Raphael and Donatello) are all voiced and played by motion capture actors, although for some reason, Leonardo had to be voiced by Johnny Knoxville (sorry, Pete Ploszek – whoever you are).
April soon discovers that the turtles’ evolved existence happened in a lab owned by a businessman named Eric Sacks (William Fichtner). April’s father worked the lab, experimenting with a “mutagen” that could speed up evolution and help prevent death in from chemical poisoning. She also learns that “Mutant” turtles were once he own small pet turtles that she saved from a fire in the lab that killed her father.
The turtles weren’t the only ones injected with the mutagen. A rat named Splinter (voiced by Tony Shaloub) also got the speedy evolution and raised the turtles as his own sons in the sewers of New York.
So, April, Splinter and the turtles learn of a plot to hit NYC with a chemical attack, so that Shredder and his secret benefactor can swoop in and save everyone with the mutagen and become all rich and powerful. April and the turtles must stop Shredder and save NYC.
If you know anything about TMNT, you know it’s all pretty basic stuff, and nothing surprising. Megan Fox’s portrayal as a pretty reporter trying to be taken seriously isn’t much of a stretch, either. Her performance isn’t as bad as her Transformers days, but it isn’t much better.
The only thing TMNT has going for it is the turtle special effects, which are incredible. The script is a mess - and so is the story, but once you cross the suspension of reality into a world where 6-foot-tall turtles can talk and kick butt ninja-style – well, you might be able to forgive some of the more ludicrous plot devices (like mountains and cliffs near NYC).
The TMNT reboot gets points for special effects effort, but loses credibility as a strong summer movie contender.