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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Review

3

The heroes in a half shell have returned to the big screen! Come read our thoughts on the franchise's reboot.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is a franchise I've always been particularly passionate about. I grew up with the animated show, bugged my parents to buy me the toys and, just like many others, dressed up as the characters for Halloween (my mom was kind enough to make me a costume one year). Needless to say, I get pretty thrilled when a new TMNT movie heads to the big screen. I was in college when the 2007 movie came out and I made sure to see it twice in theaters. Even though my love for the franchise wasn't all that strong at the time, the rooftop fight between Raphael and Leonardo blew me away and the rest of the film was legitimately enjoyable. Now, Peter Laird and Kevin Eastman's creations are getting another shot on the big screen. I'll be completely honest with you, kind readers: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles isn't a good movie, but it is a fun movie. I know that may sound silly, but stick around and I'll do my absolute best to explain!

First and foremost, the writers get the popular heroes right. Yes, these mutants may look and sound different, but none of them feel out of character and they definitely manage to entertain in the scenes that revolve around them. The character dynamics you'd expect from them are front and center and there were several bits of banter that made me laugh out loud. As usual, Raphael is the only one to walk away with some development, but the others still amuse and the proper personalities are present. It just rings true. Mikey is sure to make you chuckle at least once, Donatello's "geek factor" is played up but he serves a critical role and still shines, Raphael's temper is always on display, and Leonardo's just trying to make sure everyone gets along. And thankfully, they live in a universe that allows them to make plenty of references to other superheroes and franchises and those lines are certain to at least make you, my fellow comic book fans, smirk. So, when the heroes in a half shell are around, it's consistently lighthearted and most of the humor can appeal to moviegoers of any age.

When it comes to action scenes, Shredder's a boss and most of the battles are a good dose of amusement. Even though his armor appears to be over-the-top and clunky, he's still able to move fluidly and shows a great amount of skill. Thankfully, there tends to be an extended wide shot for the better melee fights and this allows us to really appreciate all of the movements and brutal connections. Odds are you've seen plenty of the snow chase sequence in trailers and it's without question the highlight of the movie. There's some fairly creative shots thrown in there and it's consistently thrilling. The rooftop battle with Shredder is a blast -- even if it is loaded with tropes -- and the villain's encounter with Master Splinter is also pretty exciting. However, when it comes to Shredder as a character, he's seriously lacking. The villain's agenda is totally cliche and it has quite a few plot holes along the way. To top it off, he also has some pretty silly dialogue. There's an older and memorable line that's brought back but it really doesn't work with this new tone. In a cheesy video game or cartoon? Certainly. As a legitimate threat? Not really. Sadly, there really isn't any depth to the fiends in this one and their mission is very generic and, as said above, quite flawed. There's also a noticeable amount of blatant exposition on this side of the story. I didn't mind it with the turtles (especially with the illustrated opening sequence), but it began to add up with the bad guys. Lastly, Karai is apparently just there for fans to say, "look, there's Karai!" Her role really is limited to shouting orders and failing miserably.

Aside from Splinter -- a character who looks very fake compared to everything else -- the visual effects were solid. I can't say the designs have won me over, but I've come to accept it's a totally different incarnation and, a creepy expression or two aside, I didn't mind how the turtles appeared. Their size means there's an extra emphasis on their strength and durability, but this comes at a cost: their stealth is lacking. Yes, they're still fast and skilled, but I definitely wouldn't call them sneaky (yet somehow they manage to vanish from a crazy scene in Times Square during the day without being spotted?). There's only a moment or two where the visuals faltered a bit, but the motion capture does a fine job often making it feel like these large mutants are flipping across the rooftops or interacting with the humans. Speaking of the humans, Vernon Fenwick (Will Arnett) brings a good dose of levity and charisma to the movie. I mean, did you really expect otherwise from the Arrested Development actor? Meanwhile, the movie tries too hard to tell us April O'Neil (Megan Fox) is this determined and fearless reporter instead of actually showing us. She has a moment or two of bravery, but some of her scenes with other human characters tend to drag or feel dull compared to the rest of the movie, and having her talk about how passionate she is about reporting and her career becomes repetitive and just uninteresting. So when Arnett's in her scenes, it definitely keeps things more engaging. That said, Fox does get a few moments to land the laughs. Considering she's chasing an absolutely ridiculous story, they use her serious delivery of really silly lines to drop a few laughs. There's a few lines in the film that are a bit cringeworthy, but April has a few intentionally ridiculous lines and having her say them in a completely earnest manner pays off.

As stated above, the villain's plan isn't compelling or original, and it turns out that the changes to the Ninja Turtles' origin comes off as pretty unnecessary. They take steps to establish a stronger connection between some of the leads, but it'll instead likely have you asking a few questions about the logic behind a couple of decisions and doesn't really expand the mythos all that much. In fact, the twist isn't even needed to establish a strong bond between certain characters. Still, I'd be a total liar if I said I didn't think the look at the mutants' earlier years wasn't absolutely adorable.

Is this the best Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie? No, I'd say the 1990 and 2007 ones have way more depth and much better stories. But is it a fun movie? Yes, and ultimately, isn't that what many of us want when we buy a ticket to see Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? The plot may be all kinds of generic and filled with some noticeable holes, but they do have a good grip on the team's personality and there's plenty of entertaining action and legitimately enjoyable banter along the way. It likely won't pull at your heartstrings, but they do manage to work in the message about the importance of family, too.

Very young TMNT fans will likely have a blast as they're able overlook the plot's numerous issues and just appreciate the visuals, laughs, and fighting. As for everyone else, if you're a TMNT fan that's been enjoying the recent trailers and clips, odds are you'll have a decent time. It likely won't blow you away or have you reflecting on it for very long, but it's an okay way to spend a couple of hours. But if the trailers and clips have left a bad taste in your mouth or have you feeling mostly uninterested, I seriously doubt the final product will change your mind. Honestly, that crowd would be better off seeing Guardians of the Galaxy or Dawn of the Planet of the Apes again (both are awesome, by the way).

If director Jonathan Liebesman's reboot does well enough at the global box office to warrant a sequel, I'm really hoping the next project will have a far more compelling narrative and take more steps to expand the mythos. All in all, this is a fun albeit mostly forgettable experience. The visuals, action, and humor are solid, but everything else comes off feeling pretty cliche. Oh, and if you do wind up strongly disliking the movie but still love the franchise, please remember the animated show on Nick and the IDW series are both consistently excellent!

132 Comments
Posted by pingclang

Looking forward to seeing this afternoon. I'm not big on the redesigns but I realize this is a completely new incarnation, not the Mirage Turtles. That said, if its at least entertaining, I can deal.

Online
Posted by k4tzm4n

3 stars..sounds about right. Can't wait to see it. Great review.

This is one the better reviews I've read from this movie. It's nice to hear someone take a fair and open approach.

Nice reveiw, it was a very enjoyable read. 3 stars was really all I was expecting out of this flick to be honest.

@noj said:

This is a great review and what I expected after seeing the trailers. I figured it wouldnt be anything other than a fun popcorn flick, and you know what thats okay! Not every movie has to be super deep or groundbreaking. This looks like a good time.

@lvenger said:

A fair enough review Gregg and I guess it turned out how you thought it would. A fun popcorn flick, nothing more, nothing less. That's not enough to make me waste money on a Michael Bay related film that doesn't do justice to yet another famous and well loved 80s franchise but it is a balanced critique nonetheless on your part.

After months of hype and defending the project from the critics. An honest review from Katzman. kudos.

Hell will freeze over before I spend money on this turd. But I may be interested in finding a torrent at least.

Thanks for reading and for the kind words!

@darkbeam said:

Please just tell me Gregg does Leo go off in the movie?Because if he's not cool I'm not going to be very happy.Also is he a good leader?

"Go off" as in kick all kinds of booty? He has a moment or two to shine. I wouldn't say he's the standout turtle, though. As for his abilities as a leader... well, he tries? I don't want to spoil anything.

@k4tzm4n What did you think of the changes to the origin in the rebooted comics? And which do you prefer, the origin in the comics where Splinter was always a rat or the origin in the cartoons where he used to be human?

On paper, I'm not a big fan of the idea. However, they made it work really well. If anyone reads what the new IDW origin is and has negative thoughts, SECRET HISTORY OF THE FOOT CLAN will fix that for them. It's a terrific limited series and easily one of my favorite TMNT stories. As for which I prefer... I have to say I prefer Hamato Yoshi being turned into a rat. It gives the character a little more depth since he knows what it's like to have a (somewhat) normal human life and then must fade into the sewers and can't interact with the rest of society. It also tends to allow for a more meaningful conflict with Oroku Saki.

Nah, I will just pass this. A robot Shredder. What a ridicilous idea.

He's not a robot, it's just an "upgraded" version of his armor which makes him stronger/more durable. Given the fact the turtles are more powerful, I'd say it's reasonable. But hey, if you don't like the design, you don't like the design.

@lvenger said:

A fair enough review Gregg and I guess it turned out how you thought it would. A fun popcorn flick, nothing more, nothing less. That's not enough to make me waste money on a Michael Bay related film that doesn't do justice to yet another famous and well loved 80s franchise but it is a balanced critique nonetheless on your part.

Don't worry man, I plan on seeing it anyways, So i'll tell you if it's worth it :)

"But if the trailers and clips have left a bad taste in your mouth or have you feeling mostly uninterested, I seriously doubt the final product will change your mind. Honestly, that crowd would be better off seeing Guardians of the Galaxy or Dawn of the Planet of the Apes again (both are awesome, by the way)." a.k.a. it's not worth his time :P I think it's fair to say people like lvenger -- people that have seen the trailers and clips and have negative impression of the movie -- would only be okay with the changes if they were backed by a legitimately good script and a compelling narrative. That isn't the case here, unfortunately.

The new RoboCop was given 3 stars and I enjoyed it. It won't be perfect, but I have a feeling it'll be a fun ride.

I enjoyed both movies as well (I called TMNT fun like, twice, right?), but that doesn't mean I think they warrant a bump to 4-stars -- a score we reserve for experiences we REALLY like. Hopefully I made my reasoning clear enough in the reviews.

Staff
Edited by aspenation_366

I still can't wait to go see the brand new TMNT movie, but please give Megan Fox a chance here. She hasn't playing much action movies recently and her last one was Jonah Hex. Hopefully she can do a fine job as April O' Neil, despite the dialogues that Michael Bay have wrote.

Edited by NightFang

This movie has been getting nothing, but mixed to negative reviews.

Edited by StMichalofWilson

At least it's a decent three stars. Probably rent it

Posted by nickthedevil

It's Katz. Those three stars probably came from him solely from his turtle-bias :P

Posted by redbird3rdboywonder

This movie only deserves 2 years

Posted by Rainja

If comicvine gives this movie 3 stars it must be great. Same thing with Man of Steel and Transformers. If i went by this sites reviews i would never have watched them when they turned out to be pretty good. Just sayi

Edited by k4tzm4n

@rainja said:

If comicvine gives this movie 3 stars it must be great. Same thing with Man of Steel and Transformers. If i went by this sites reviews i would never have watched them when they turned out to be pretty good. Just sayi

I strongly recommend judging the review by the written portion and not just the star rating. This review -- as well as the TF4 one -- blatantly suggest seeing it if you have certain expectations (fun action/comedy, no strong interest in plot/script/performances). I mean, right in the final paragraph I say, "As for everyone else, if you're a TMNT fan that's been enjoying the recent trailers and clips, odds are you'll have a decent time. It likely won't blow you away or have you reflecting on it for very long, but it's an okay way to spend a couple of hours." I also call it fun at least twice, I believe. So, that quote seems to apply to you and suggests checking it out! The same held true in the TF4 review. Also, I reviewed Man of Steel and gave it a very positive review, so I'm not sure why you added that to the list.

Staff
Edited by chaos911

Yeah I had a feeling it wasn't gonna be an plot driven award winning movie. I'm gonna see it and probably have a blast watching it. I mean I love the 1990 one but it didn't get the greatest reviews either

Posted by Fallingcliffs

I'm seeing it tomorrow, i'm sure it'll satisfy me and I have a hard time believing this isn't better than that abomination of an 07 movie...I'm sorry but that storyline sucked and was very "out there" to say the least. They turned April into a samurai I mean...just so many things wrong with it, Leo going into self exile I also felt was lame.

I think this movie will be much better honestly from what I'm hearing and reading overall. I'll post again once I see it give it my TMNT movie rating from best to worst.

Posted by MrDirector786

Nice review. I'm going to try to see it some time this weekend.

Posted by _Genesis_

I can't wait to see the movie

Posted by Squalleon

I may see it and I may not, depends when it opens.
I have Guardians to see first!

Edited by ForeverMan

Yep, still sounds like exactly the type of movie that I am not interested in. Good review.

Posted by fullmetaladam

Just bought the 8 trades, 4 micro trades and Secret History Of The Foot Clan trade (IDW) in the comixology TMNT sale. Will take a while to read them so I'll wait until I'm finished and just get this movie from Netflix later on.

Posted by fullmetaladam

P.S. Am I the only one whose favourite Turtles movie was " Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Secret Of The Ooze"? Loved me some Tokka and Rahzar. :)

Posted by NerdGirlSabrina

I'll see it next week. The old 1990 version is waiting to cheer me up when I get home if this sucks.

Same here lol

Posted by RisingBean

@risingbean said:

I'll see it next week. The old 1990 version is waiting to cheer me up when I get home if this sucks.

Same here lol

It's not a bad plan. That movie was great. The new one...well I'm hoping.

With that said, welcome the the Vine.

Posted by k4tzm4n

Really curious to see what everyone else thinks now that it's out. The movie getting ripped apart on RT is no surprise, but I have a feeling it's something many fans will think is okay.

Staff
Posted by mogo1

Have to wait for next to see it but I'm super psyched. I think the not good but fun statement will be dead on

Every commercial I see makes me want to see it more. I love the silly/fun tone of it all

Edited by BiteMe-Fanboy

After reading the review I would think the rating would be one star.

Posted by The_Martian

Anyone else notice it was basically the plot to the first Amazing Spider-Man movie?

Edited by k4tzm4n

@biteme_fanboy said:

After reading the review I would think the rating would be one star.

I honestly don't understand how you reached that conclusion after reading the review.

Biggest compliments in the review:

Captures the spirit of the popular characters well

Mostly good visuals

Legitimately exciting action sequences

Consistently enjoyable banter between the turtles

Biggest criticisms in the review:

Cliche plot that has some noticeable holes and makes a few unnecessary changes

Villains have no depth, also have some generic/uninspired dialogue

Splinter looks fake compared to the rest

Just because I don't think it's a good movie doesn't mean I think it's abysmal. It's essentially silly popcorn fun and overall, I had an okay time. If you saw it and think it deserves a 1, that's totally fine and you have every right to think that. But I did my best to make my opinions clear enough in the review and tried my hardest to justify the score.

Staff
Posted by laflux

Sounds more like 2.5 stars tbh.

Online
Posted by chem86

@nickxh said:

Well, I'm off to go see Guardians of the Galaxy again. :P

This... I LOVEEEE TMNT, but just can't find any desire to see this movie. If it's anything related to his transformers movies, I'm happy pretending this movie just doesn't exist.

Posted by k4tzm4n

@laflux said:

Sounds more like 2.5 stars tbh.

We can't give half-stars.

Staff
Posted by laflux
Online
Posted by Guardiandevil83

Dude the original got horrible reviews too

Posted by M1cAL

i've been telling ppl for weeks that all i'm expecting from this movie is for it to be fun. so with that in mind, im pumped!! it's passed the point of complaining bout the character designs, so lets just sit back & enjoy (or not) the ride

Posted by StormShadow_X
Edited by CaptainMarvel4Ever

@stormshadow_x said:

@captainmarvel4ever:

Telling people to see Guardians on a TMNT review. That's low :p

I don't want to support a movie like TMNT that's bastardizing something we comic fans love. If we pay for this, then it's like saying "yes, ruin what we loved as a child for your own profit".

Posted by StormShadow_X

@captainmarvel4ever:

Why? It's a Ok film and if you're a fan. You'll like it. GOTG is already filled to the brim with fanboys. When a reviewer on youtube called the film out on its problems are video got disliked too the core :p. Maybe its because I thought TMNT and GOTG were eon the same level.

Posted by CaptainMarvel4Ever

@stormshadow_x: "Ok" is not a very sound endorsement (but it is one of the better reviews I've heard) and I don't want to spend money on "Ok". Guardians of the Galaxy earned those fans by being a quality film that respects the source material. So if I had to choose between a film that takes something us fan loves and ruins it, or a film that celebrates fans by making a successful film out of an obscure comic, I'd say all my support id going to Marvel, James Gunn, and the Guardians of the Galaxy.

Posted by StormShadow_X

@captainmarvel4ever:

Guardians Of the Galaxy Wouldn't be anywhere without the Hype Of Avengers, which isn't a bad thing. It didn't earn anything. Nor did most of the Marvel Movies. The Thor Franchise is the weakest and the Last two Ironman films were lackluster compared too the first. Avengers itself was not that good of a film but the way it was built up was good. The Movie itself was Generic. I'm all for Marvel or DC to do films about amazing characters that don't have the benefit of being famous but GOTG is living off the Hype of previous Marvel Movies which weren't that good. Guardians Of the Galaxy itself is a "ok" film that wouldn't be here without the fan boys and the movies that came before which most aren't that amazing either.

How was TMNT ruined? At the core the Turtles have always been about Family, something it did well. The Action was okay and movie wasn't meant to be a blockbuster. Also you're the negative guy who everywhere I go bring DC down and the idea of a Captain Marvel Movie. I see your reasoning why but it's not fair that Marvel can do a unknown character even with it's list of "ok" movies while DC Can't. You could at least stop telling people to see another movie on this movies review. It makes you seem like a Marvel Fanboy who will like anything they put out.

Edited by RoTheKid

Eeh...this may be a rental for me. :-/

Edited by Guardiandevil83

I just saw it. Like, just now! Splinter and Shredder were badass!

Posted by Maddpanda531

Just saw it. Alright movie.

Too much Megan Fox.

Not enough turtle puns.

Posted by NerdGirlSabrina

@risingbean:

@nerdgirlsabrina said:

@risingbean said:

I'll see it next week. The old 1990 version is waiting to cheer me up when I get home if this sucks.

Same here lol

It's not a bad plan. That movie was great. The new one...well I'm hoping.

With that said, welcome the the Vine.

I know. I remember when I had the VHS of it and watched it all the time. I did see the new one. It wasn't bad but I didn't get the same feelings as watching the 1990s version. And thanks for the welcome.

Posted by AmazingWebHead

All in all, not as bad as everyone thought it would be. (And the 2007 movie didn't have depth. Mikey and Donnie were friggin' extras.)

But I still think Sarah Michelle Gellar would've made a better April.

LOVE how they brought back Shredder's "turtle soup" line.

Posted by CaptainMarvel4Ever

@stormshadow_x: Maybe Avengers hype does help, but that doesn't change the fact that an obscure got a movie, that's not only sticking close to the source material, but is a really really good movie. That film is a victory for fanboys everywhere, a flag we firmly planted in the box office that says "Our time is now". Even with Avengers backing it up, there's no denying that the film was advertised well, and is a really good film, earning most of that success on it's own merit.

Yes, the TMNT movie is not the worst thing to ever come out, and yes it's not too bad by Bay standards, but it's not a great film. I am willing to admit that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is a silly concept, but at the same time it's a very important and serious franchise. Don't get me wrong, I can understand liking a shallow film, one of my favorites is the first Mortal Kombat movie. It's a B movie at heart, but it has nice sets, good actors, great fighting, and sticks close to the source material, so I like it. I would also love to see a Youngblood movie by Brett Ratner,one of the most shallow comic books of all time getting a film by one of the cheapest directors of all time, because it's a stupid franchise and I don't really want much from it. However franchises about beloved comic series or characters, like Superman or the X-Men deserve to be handled well and with respect. TMNT falls wheresoever in between Youngblood and Superman, it's kinda silly, but still a beloved franchise. The point is, while I can accept some of the changes and creative decisions made for this film, it's still a poor effort and we deserve more. I don't want Hollywood to think they can pump something cheep out and expect us fans to pay no matter what. So if this film was released with no other fanboy films around, I would say "Yeah might as well go see it" but considering we have Guardians out, I want to send a message "Treat us right, and we'll make it rain".

Posted by RisingBean

@nerdgirlsabrina: I'll see the new one next week. One of my buddies saw it and liked it, so I have hope.

And no problem at all on the welcomes. I'm sure you'll meet tons of cool people (You're already well on your way!) and get involved in many an interesting conversation.

Posted by ULTRAstarkiller

@k4tzm4n: I thought the movie was good, I agree that Splinter looked fake...I mean really fake. Lol. I enjoyed pretty much everything else except Splinter not being a human originally (I really love that from the new show and 03 one).

My favorite scene was when Mikey was all "I'll always be right here" *touches Megan Fox's chest* lmao

Edited by Warren X

Think I'll wait till its on dvd, save some of my money for a bit lol

Posted by Jake Fury

nice work katz

Edited by Fallingcliffs

I saw it, honestly I enjoyed it. First want to say it was MUCH better than the 3rd TMNT and that horrible 2007 movie(which still if you ask me as a TMNT fan had the worst, most far fetched storyline even crazier and more unpractical than the 3rd which at least made sense and wasn't "so out there")

I'd rate it the third best TMNT movie, original imo overall is still the best, then the sequel and THEN TMNT 2014, TMNT III and that crappy excuse for a lazy, unoriginal movie in 2007.

That being said, as far as the action sequences go I'd say both the first original film and this one were about even. This movie was just more dramatic due to well 2014 CGI, the size of the turtles etc and Shredder's suit was pretty badass I admit. The magnetic/retractable knives/blades were cool I admit.

Fox was an alright O'neil I actually was surprised by her performance, felt she did a better job in TMNT than Transformers to be honest. Cause let's face it, no way in hell a girl THAT hot would ever be interested in a dork like Shia's character in the first Transformers...

This, a reporter if they see something will obsess over it at least. Seen it with Lois, April and even Clark Kent. So it's not out of the league of "ridiculousness" to me.

My local paper gave it zero stars, it's definitely not nearly that bad. I'd give it 2 and half honestly or 3 and half out of 5 honestly.

Overall the movie stays true to the TMNT and Splinter, Shredder with Karai working for him. The only thing they changed which I won't go into for spoiler reasons is the whole relationship between the turtles, splinter and april. Like the current TMNT cartoon show, they made some "slight changes" with April and the Turtles there but you'll see. It's not enough for me or shouldn't be for any true blue TMNT fan to go "omg this change ruined my childhood" because the core story is still there, that change and some others I won't get into with Splinter and Shredder's history I won't get into also. They give Splinter a good rivalry with Shredder, but they do make it seem like there's a past history there when in this incarnation there clearly isn't. Splinter was never in Japan with Shredder here nor was he even human turned into a rat via mutagen. So just be prepared for some change there. If you're looking for a film that stays 100% true to the original comic book story, this may not be the TMNT movie for you.

Posted by HuiZe

Didn't expect much anyway.

Posted by Dedpool

Thoroughly enjoyed the movie. And as with every comic based movie or event I get inspired to go look up stuff like the new IDW comic series (not so new) and realized that the change in origin for the movie that everyone is bitching about, came from the new comic. It didn't bother me much to begin with, and my daughter liked it actually, but I just find it funny fans are hating but they're not up on the new comic, cause if they were then they' have known that and cried foul way back when, and the comic would've been cancelled like the Image title was, but nope, still going strong and making changes along the way.