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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014)

Her Review:

New York City is in desperate need of heroes.  The evil Foot Clan, led by the notorious Shredder, holds sway over the entire city and keeps people running scared.  Little do the people know that help lies beneath their streets in the form of a four unlikely outcast brother who mutant turtles that fight like ninjas and they are teenagers.  When the turtles identity is discovered by fearless reporter April O’Neil (Megan Fox) they have to work with her to unravel Shredder’s evil plan that will put the entire city of New York at his mercy.  Starring Alan Ritchson, Johnny Knoxville, Noel Fisher, Will Arnett, William Fichtner, Whoopi Goldberg, Jeremy Howard, Tony Shalhoub, Minae Noji, Danny Woodburn, Abby Elliott, Pete Ploszek, Malina Weissman, K. Todd Freeman.

The 2014 highly anticipated reboot of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles can be described in one word – Cowabunga!  That’s right I said it.  Turtle power is alive and well in this summer blockbuster that will not disappoint.  I am going to be honest, I wasn’t an avid fan of TMNT when I was younger.  I watched the show sometimes but didn’t own all the toys or comics.  I certainly knew the characters and was well aware of their love of pizza and could discuss anything turtle to seem “cool” around the boys.  The reason I am telling you this is because unlike some people (ahem….my other half) I really didn’t have expectations going into this movie.  As a result I loved every second of the film.

I was extremely impressed with how the filmmakers balanced teaching a new generation about the turtles and bringing the older generation everything they loved about them when they were young.  Not an easy task but they managed it beautifully so that even when I was hearing a story I was familiar with I found it exciting and entertaining.  You do have to remind yourself at times that this movie is a set up for more to come because it does play out that way.  The whole time you are getting to know the characters and appreciate them and right when you do its over so its a good thing there is more to come – we hope.

The singularly best part of the whole film for me were the turtles.  I wasn’t quite sure how they would look on screen the makeup and costumes work.  Better still the personalities of the turtles is strong.  There is no mistaking who Raphael, Leonardo, Michelangelo and Donatello are.  Each has their own distinct personality and from what I remember of the show when I was a little girl they are all spot on.  Raphael and Michelangelo seemed to take center stage more so than the other two turtles but I had no problem with that.  Raph is perfectly sullen and sarcastic which is balanced nicely by how funny and adorably annoying Michelangelo is the whole movie.  The personalities of the turtles is what made the movie so great for me.  And that is really how it should be.

Now I guess I should talk a little about the rest of the film too.  The action in the film was good.  The fight between Shredder and Splinter was awesome with some pretty cool effects.  The other fights were great too but that one was my favorite.  The story wasn’t anything astounding but as I mentioned earlier you can tell they are using it to introduce you to the characters and set everything up for what is to come in the next film.  The nice thing is that the action and the story work for both kids and adults.  There is enough detail to hold an adults attention but also enough simplicity to make sure the kiddos can stay engaged as well.  Seriously the filmmakers achieved a rather astounding balance to the whole thing so it just all works.

If I had to pick on one little tiny thing it would be that I am not sure I would have cast Megan Fox as April.  There were moments when she didn’t seem to fit the character but ultimately it didn’t bother me that much and this is totally my personal opinion.

I know this is a bit more long-winded review than normal for me but there was a lot to talk about.  I was highly entertained by TMNT.  Lots of laughs and few tears…yes tears!  I will probably be seeing this again and I have no doubt it will make my list for top movies of the year.  A definite must see for any fan of the genre and for the non fans too.  Everyone can enjoy this summer blockbuster!

9/10 Stars – Turtle power is back baby so grab a slice of pizza and enjoy!

 

His Review:

As a life long Turtles fan, I could have been in 1 of 2 camps; the camp that is excited and pumped-up to see the “heroes in a half-shell” return to the big screen or the camp that wants to complain that “they will ruin everything.”  I can say that for the last year I’ve been in camp #1.  I have been excited, reading up on all the articles and watching every trailer released.  I tried not to look at things as a comparison because I knew these Turtles weren’t going to be MY turtles from the 90s.  I mean, there have been 2 different versions of the Turtles since the 90s anyways, and the Turtles of the Saturday Morning Cartoons (and 90s movies) were different from comic books too, so with all the different version around, who cares if yet another implementation came about.  These new Turtles look more realistic than ever before and I was happy to see a more adult version being released.  It’s funny that I say this new movie looks more “adult” because I remember thinking the exactly same thing when I saw the original film back in the early 90s and that movie is so NOT adult HAHA.

Having said all that, let me talk about the movie.  I’ll just start out by saying they did NOT mess up the Turtles or Splinter.  The Turtles are who they are suppose to be.  Their personalities match quite well and I am definitely pleased with how my favorite turtle, Raph, is incorporated.  Even though they made him the brute, I liked the size changes along with the addition of the flare to set each turtle apart.  The only thing I might have done differently was change Michelangelo’s voice.  It was kind of annoying but fit the “surfer dude” role, so that’s splitting hairs.  I was glad to see the character of Splinter return to form as he was in the cartoon, walking and fighting.  Trust me, he isn’t like the old fragile version from the 90s movies that made him look worthless and weak.  He isn’t a main focus, but just like the cartoons, his presence is impactful.

For those of you that want to bag on Megan Fox for being April, I can’t argue with you, but I’ll say this, she felt like the April from the 90s TV show.  She is ambitious, headstrong and won’t back down.  I think she did a better job at being April than any of the other 2 ladies before her!  My problem was actually with Vernon!  Vernon Fenwick isn’t a nice person nor someone who helped the Turtles but I do like Will Arnett, and Vernon isn’t that big of a character so I guess it isn’t that big of a deal.  The “big deal” changes come in the forms of The Shredder and The Foot and they are ones I didn’t like.  First off, the Foot Clan looks nothing like the Foot clan!  They wear masks that look like they come from ancient Rome rather than Ninjas (but then again, in this movie, they aren’t ninjas!)  The original Turtles movie did The Foot Clan right with the long heads and the big eyes.  I just don’t understand why they chose to make them thugs rather than ninjas in this version.  As for Shredder… do you all remember Super Shredder from the Secret of the Ooze?  Well this is Super Super Super Super Shredder!  He is basically a man in a mechanical outfit that has blades coming out of every part of his body, not to mention the Wolverine like blades he constantly “chings” for effect.  If you remember in the TV show, Shredder has a personality and even cracks jokes!  In the original movie they made him into the strong silent type which made him more “serious” but more boring.  I liked the Shredder complained about his “moron” sidekicks (which better be in the next movie!) and to Krang (will he ever show up or the Technodrome?) so can they please bring that Shredder back!?!?!  This Shredder is simply a villain rather than a nemesis and these Turtles need something bigger than just “bad guys.”  I wish they could have expanded on him more to add to the overall charm of the movie.

Lastly, after I’ve talked all about the Turtles and other characters, the story is a major factor when talking about a movie.  That is the area where this movie fails the most.  I think more than anything, the part that most people are upset about is the change to the back story.  The original story from the comics revolved around a member of the Foot Clan Hamato Yoshi.  When Yoshi kills another Foot Clan member Oroku Nagi for beating his girlfriend, he is banished to the United States where Nagi’s brother Oroku Saki vows revenge for his brother’s death.  Splinter, who was Yoshi’s pet rat, and had learned Ninjutsu from his cage, escapes to the sewers when Saki kills Yoshi and his love.  In the sewers, Splinter finds 4 turtles who mutate into their present forms and all vow to seek revenge on Saki.

What is most interesting about the back story is that it has changed quite a bit from version to version.  In the cartoons, all the killing is removed and it is said that Splinter IS Yoshi who mutates from being close to so many rats.  In the original film, the Yoshi/Saki back story returns, but Nagi is removed.  For the new film, there is no mention of Saki or Yoshi and it is said that Splinter and the 4 turtles were created in a lab by April’s father.  The animals were actually April’s pets and she is the person responsible for them reaching the sewers to live.  What is my point in telling you all this detailed info on the back story?  Because they have all changed!  So for those of you that don’t like the elimination of the Yoshi/Saki back story, I understand it, but it’s changed already so much, who cares.

The part of the story that I do care about is the plot, and boy is it plain and boring!  Some guy named Eric Sacks who works with the Shredder wants to release poison gas so the government has to buy his antidote!  Yeah, that’s the plot!  You’d have thought it could have been a little more original than that, or something that had more to do with the change in back story but nope.  They could have kept the old back story and added more development into the characters.  I felt the movie was a little short for my taste and they could have added more depth to make the whole package more fulfilling.  At times, I felt like the story was either going too slow or too fast and the extra development could have been extra content for a change of pace.  Funny thing is, after you take away all the nostalgia, all the history, all the expectations, the plot is what makes it “just a movie” like all the others, and it’s that plain and simple.  I know this movie is the 1st of several, and the story will be expanded, but they could have done something much better with it .  Anyways…

At the end of the day, I was way more pleased with the movie than upset.  I think most of it had to do with the fact that the turtles are done right, have the correct personalities and are funny!  I loved seeing Raph on the big screen again and can’t wait for the next film.  I’ve heard rumors that Bepop and Rocksteady will be included… so here is to hoping we get Krang eventually too!

8/10 Stars – Could have easily been a 9 if the story was meatier and longer, but the boys are back… now just have to find the real Shredder…

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