Main cast: Megan Fox (April O’Neil), Johnny Knoxville (Leonardo), Alan Ritchson (Raphael), Jeremy Howard (Donatello), Noel Fisher (Michaelangelo), Will Arnett (Fenwick), Tony Shalhoub (Splinter), Tohoru Masamune (Shredder), William Fichtner (Eric Sacks), and Whoopi Goldberg (Bernadette Thompson)
Director: Jonathan Liebesman
This is, what, the third attempt to create a movie franchise out of a long-dead cartoon series? Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has a story that should be familiar to anybody who knows anything about the series or has watched any of the previous movies. What is interesting about this latest reboot is how the heroes in a half-shell this time around are not the dorky and adorable lean and green dudes like they are usually portrayed in the cartoon series.
Maybe it’s because of Michael Bay’s influence as a producer, or maybe it’s due to something else, but the four Ninja Turtles this time around come off as really violent and, in some cases, borderline crazy types that may not make this movie suitable for sensitive kids. I actually like this. I just don’t like anything else about this movie, especially April O’Neil.
You may have heard the story before. Four turtles and a rat were experimented in a lab, and they eventually found their way under the New York City sewers, where they eventually developed into intelligent English-talking beings. The rat, Splinter, taught the four turtles how to be ninjas, so now we have four teenaged mutant ninja turtles who love pizzas and urban music when they are not jumping over rooftops and destroying the dreams of villains everywhere. The leader of the turtles is Leonardo, whose sole personality is that, well, he’s the boss. Raphael is the moody one who occasionally bristles at having to follow Leonardo’s orders because he secretly wants to have angry sex with the boss, while Donatello is the nerd who seems happiest when he’s playing with destructive gadgets. Oh, and there’s Michaelangelo who just wants to have sex with April, bad. As he puts it, she makes his “shell go tight”. Go look for images of “turtle penis” on Google, if you dare, and then come back and tell me whether you find Michaelangelo’s interest in April still amusing.
Anyway, Splinter is adamant that these four are not ready to crash into the surface world yet, but since when do teenagers ever listen to their elders? They sneak off anyway, usually to break up plots and schemes of the hilariously named Foot Clan, led by our evil overlord Shredder. (No Krang in this one – we get a puny human who is less cute in Eric Sacks who acts as Shredder’s underling.) The Foot Clan is named thus because, and I quote the movie, they step over people with their feet. They are just as smart as you would imagine. Shredder and Eric have a plan: they want to release a deadly toxin in New York that would cause a horrible condition, of which only they have the cure. This way, Shredder would get to control people who would do anything for the cure, and Eric would get paid a lot of money for his efforts. Mind you, these are the same people that, one, shoot blindly at things in a laboratory containing a vial of the deadly toxin, and two, prepare to release the toxin without wearing any protective gear whatsoever. Yes, these bunch of goons are definitely going to go places, I tell you.
Oh, and then there’s April. She laments the fact that she has to cover fluff news when she should be a serious journalist. Naturally, she goes about proving herself by running around, alone and unarmed, into dangerous situations (hiding behind a pillar right out in the open is her idea of “stealthy reconnaissance”), getting captured, and holding up her stupid smartphone-camera thingy so that every armed lunatic can see her trying to capture a shot. She gets messages from creepy mutant turtles asking to see her in private so she shows up, again alone and unarmed. Every trouble in this movie is caused by her: she stupidly leads the bad guys to Splinter’s hideout, she forces the Turtles to come out and expose themselves by taking their photos and trying her best to get them published in the papers despite the fact that doing so would put them in danger and stop the only people who are countering the Foot Clan’s criminal activities (go April!), and more. Every time things become quiet after a long hard battle, April decides to do something… and gets into trouble so that everyone has to break his back trying to rescue her again. Seriously, April is a walking Calamity Jane – nothing goes well in her presence, and she always needs to be rescued. On top of it all, she is selfish and self-absorbed, and she is played by Megan Fox whose lines consist of 25% trying to speak in some semblance of English language and 75% gasping like a brain-damaged idiot.
The good things in this movie are few. The Turtles have some good lines, and for the most part they are delicious overgrown psychopaths that I like. But the action scenes become increasingly incoherent as the movie progresses, and they are ruined by my increasing irritation at April for once again being the reason everyone is in trouble. Seriously, the plot is all about April screwing up non-stop and getting everyone in danger as a result and I can only take so much before I want to rip my theater seat up and fling it at the screen. What could have been a brainless but fun flick is ruined by a heroine who is too stupid and too irritating to be allowed to live.