Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Review

8/08/2014 Stephen Colbert 0 Comments


Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles tells the story of an adventurous reporter, April O’Neil, who is attempting to make a big break by covering the criminal activities of the notorious Foot Clan.  During her investigation, she is brought into contact with the heroes in a half shell who are working to stop the Foot Clan.  After the discovery of a nefarious plot that endangers everyone in New York City, April and the Turtles find themselves in a race against time to stop the evil Shredder and save the day.

It’s very possible this movie was doomed out of the gate.  The attachment of Michael Bay tends to immediately turn geeks against any of his projects and this movie had too many other hurtles to overcome for anyone to cut it any slack.

After an overwhelmingly negative reaction to an early script leak, fans were reassured that the script was not the script that would be used for the final version and everyone could rest easy, but it seemed  like some of the fan fears may may have been legitimate, because the movie not only went through some rewrites, but there were also some reshoots earlier this year, and the final product shows evidence of some last minute changes.

The end result of this movie was an extremely thin plot that made less sense than most saturday morning cartoons.  Actual character motivations were summed up by simplistic one word substitutions such as “money” or “power,” creating villains that were not only one dimensional, but also went to extreme lengths to accomplish seemingly pointless and arbitrary ends when they already had the resources to accomplish much more reasonable schemes.


The thin plot was compounded by terrible dialogue.  Each scene feels almost like it was delivered using an outline of an early story treatment as opposed to an actual fully realized script.  The delivery of these lines didn’t help make them more believable either, with most actors being either miscast entirely, or completely phoning it in.

It almost seems that some of the actors appeared simply because they owed Nickelodeon a favor.  Whoopi Goldberg, for example, barely has any screen time and seems to have possibly been another (fortunate) victim of major slashes to the script, because that entire story thread is basically abandoned before it began.

Many of the effects were also very fake.  Some scenes do stand out as very well done, but it seems the effects budget was poorly allocated, because other scenes look like video game cutscenes from over a decade ago, especially with Splinter, who is a nearly laughably poor specimen of CGI.

Amazingly, almost  none of these complaints applied to the Turtles themselves.  I found their dialogue and voice acting to be quite funny and lighthearted, albeit cheesy at moments.  I feel like nearly everything that happened while the turtles were on screen was funny and exciting, whereas everything else completely dragged.


The turtle action and choreography was great and they did a good job of realizing each individual turtle from both a physical and character perspective.  Sadly, there are large chunks of time where the turtles are nowhere to be seen, which made this 100 minute long movie drag to what felt more like 2 hours.

Shredder was also ok when it came to appearance and action, but there was essentially no character under the armor.  The only attempt at establishing any sort of character motivation felt like an under developed bullet point on the script.

There were many places where I felt like they were referring to something deeper that just wasn’t present.  I don’t know if that means the original script was better, but angry fanboys scared them into going a different direction, or it was just always as shallow as it appeared on screen.

There were even a few tongue in cheek references to the leaked script (such as an over emphasis on the fact that they were in fact Turtles that were also Mutants, Teenagers, and Ninjas), which really makes me wonder if this was the salvaged version of this movie, or the version that blinked in the face of fanboy hate.


One of the final straws on this splintered back of this camel was the camera work.  The camera seemed to never stop moving in this movie, but not in a film noir “shake cam” or cohesive way, but it jilted, confusing, and disorienting way.  It seemed like the camera would circle the heads of two characters when they were having a conversation and bob and weave through scenes with absolutely no purpose.  
This was very much compounded by 3D.  This is one of the first times I’ve felt that 3D may have actually taken away from whatever cinematic experience there is for this movie.


I’m sure I’ll rent this movie or watch it on TV in the future, because the turtles were honestly really fun to watch, but it’s hard to get invested in this movie as there is absolutely nothing to be invested in.

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