Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles tells the story of April O’Neil (Megan Fox), a young up-and-coming journalist at a TV station, who is struggling to break away from fluff stories into more serious ones. One night, she’s riding her bike near the docks when she witnesses a robbery by the Foot Clan, a group that has been terrorizing the city, which is thwarted by a mysterious apprehender. Later, she sees people screaming and leaving the subway, so she darts in to try and get the scoop for a story. In the process, she discovers the Ninja Turtles, brutish yet goofy martial-arts trained crusaders, and works together with them to stop the Foot Clan for good.
The movie starts out pretty serious in tone, but not serious enough that you believe you’re in for Dark Knight-esque suspense and drama. Fox is a bit unbelievable as the super-hot, yet intellectual, inspiring journalist and, since she carries the first part of the movie on her own, you don’t ever really buy that this movie is going to be a masterpiece.
The tone suffers from the bullwhip effect once the turtles are on screen. They are so goofy, cartoony, and kiddy that it’s hard to take the movie seriously. Is it serious or goofy? It tried (rather unsuccessfully) so hard in the first half to establish itself as a serious movie, this sudden transition disoriented me.
Overall, the plot is pretty generic and bland. Bad guy wants to take over city, bad guy has henchmen who are doing his bidding, heroes appear and save the day. This movie didn’t really make me feel anything, which is a bad sign. Yes, I laughed whenever Michelangelo or some of the other turtles were quipping on screen, but other than that, I wasn’t invested. Even in the most intense scenes, my heart rate remained pretty steady as it did throughout the entire film.
People have complained of the hulking, fierce designs of the turtles. Personally, I didn’t mind them and thought it was an interesting interpretation of the dudes who are normally so quirky and harmless. The new designs at least made it believable that they were a force to be reckoned with.
It’s not the best movie in the world, but it certainly isn’t the world. It’s unlikely that this incarnation of the TMNT will resurrect the franchise to its former 80s glory, but that’s ok. I do think families with older children will enjoy this movie very much. I don’t think the film was geared towards that demographic; however, I feel, despite its PG-13 rating, it’s perfect for them. It’s clean, funny and certainly harmless–something you don’t find much of (outside of animates films) today.
While Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is not going to be the blockbuster of the summer, it might be worth checking out in the dollar theatre or for a few nostalgic kicks and giggles.