Film Review: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

My stepdaughter bought this film as an early Father’s Day gift, and having watched it, let’s offer up a review!

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (or ‘Hero’ Turtles as the cartoon was back in the 90s) formed a big part of my childhood. The show was huge, and spawned three feature films, and over the years additional TV shows and films have come along. Make no mistake, TMNT is a serious business.

Indeed, business is an appropriate word. The Turtles are now in the grip of Michael Bay (who brought us the big screen adaptations of another major cartoon, Transformers), and the first of his Turtles films came out in 2014, with the sequel coming out this year. He and the studio have wasted no time in getting the sequel made – clearly the films are marketable and money-making. Is the first one any good?

I’d heard less-than favourable reviews from friends, but I try to approach any film I see with an open mind. That said, I wasn’t too thrilled with Bay’s Transformers films (definitely a case of style over substance), but I tried to keep that out of mind with TMNT. The acting isn’t exactly mind-blowing, and the plot is obvious, and the villains are extremely one-dimensional. So far, the review is not off to a great start, but allow me to elaborate.

Megan Fox is not an especially great actress. She is not terrible, but she wasn’t the right choice to play April O’Neill. The turtles themselves are a bit… well, dull. The cartoon incarnations all had pretty distinct personalities, and whilst they are still different here, it’s not to the same extent. The generally serious tone of the movie is at odds with the spirit of the original. Shredder was never a particularly ‘fleshed out’ bad guy in the cartoon, but here he is a cardboard cut out, completely bland and easily replaced by any other generic villain. His partner is crime is motivated by… money. Gee, how original…

Some of the action sequences are pretty good, and the film looks the part. It’s clearly a very polished production – style vs substance comes back to mind. It is not a bad movie – it is just average, lacking any flair or charisma. It certainly won’t appeal to diehard fans of the original material.

6.5/10

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