Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: A Michael Bay Abomination
Over three years of anticipation, worry, rumor-milling, and trolling have brought me to this point. Well, it’s brought all of us to this point. If you grew up in the 80’s and 90’s like me… well based on the title of this post and if you’re still reading I don’t have to finish that sentence. Most of you know me well enough from what I’ve been writing about this for years.
I’m finally going to discuss my highly-anticipated review of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I warn you now, there will be spoilers. Lots of them. And by doing so, I will be doing you a favor. I will not pull any punches on this. And forgive me for my complete inability to be objective regarding what is essentially a thesis for aspiring motion-capture students. In addition to reviewing the “film,” I also will take this opportunity to share in more detail than ever before what I have been doing to cope with the attempted murder on my childhood. So without further ado, I give you “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: A Michael Bay Abomination.”It was first announced by Michael Bay in 2011 at a Nickelodeon convention that he would be producing a live-action reboot of one of my all-time favorite TV shows. In doing so, Bay mentioned-very insistently I might add-that the turtles would be “aliens from another planet.” My immediate internal rage was the first time in my life that I realized that there was a purist in me. Meaning, I yearned for, if not demanded, that the story be told from one of the actual origin renditions. Thankfully many other fans felt the same way and took to the Internet expressing outrage and frustration.
Yes, liberties can be taken when adapting a reboot for a new generation, but creating a new character (Eric Sacs) and making him solely responsible for the creation of the turtles (and Splinter) on purpose is just ridiculous. Then his reasoning behind creating the turtles in the first place was that he was going to contaminate the city with a toxin POISONING THE WATER SUPPLY! Where have I heard that before? Shame on the writers for taking a major plot point from Batman and using it in your shit. FOR SHAME!! And that the mutagen running through the turtles bloodstream was the only cure. Oh and guess what the project to create the turtles was called? Project Renaissance. Too subtle? Too on the nose?
Initially it was rumored that Sacs (played by William Fichtner) would play The Shredder himself, and in one of my only sighs of relief in this crap fest, was played by a Japanese actor. In the movie, Sacs explains to April that he was born in Japan on a military base and that his father had died in Vietnam. After his death, the man known as Shredder-who is never really referenced by any other name in his story-took him in and raised him.
April O’Neil, a young news reporter who wants to be taken more seriously and take on more serious stories affecting NYC. Cliché but acceptable character told entirely from medium shots of Megan Fox from the chest up or behind never missing an opportunity to show her cleavage and ass. Oh and every time she stares Leonardo or Splinter down, if you look closely, you can see April trying to check out their packages. Moving on.
The turtles themselves (visually speaking) have been a major objection by pretty much every fanboy who grew up on the shows and original movies masterfully created in Jim Henson’s Creature Shop. Apparently I never got the memo that three decades later, they had to look like Jar Jar Binks and Shrek on steroids. The dialogue between themselves, April, and Splinter were infested with campy pop-culture references like Hogwarts, Fortress of Solitude, and Xavier Academy. Pretty much every major summer blockbuster from the last 15 years was referenced. I wouldn’t have minded if just one of those were mentioned, but all of them in the same line of dialogue is just unacceptable and the writer’s desperate attempt to make the audience relate to the turtles on some kind of personal level instead of actually offering time for the turtles to develop in the story. Oh that’s another thing, there is virtually no character development from anyone throughout the entire movie. NONE! As far as pizza is concerned, it is only introduced once without any explanation or reasoning as to how/why they love pizza so much to explain to a new generation. They do however show a young April feeding them pizza in the laboratory where they were created. Oh did I also forget to mention that April’s father helped create the turtles and Splinter with Sacs? These bastards even re-created almost shot for shot a scene from the 1990 film where Leonardo slices the pizza in midair only to have Splinter’s slice land on his head! THEY DID THAT!!! ARRRGGHHH!!
“Cowabunga” is uttered only twice in the whole movie. Both in the third act with less than 15 minutes left. One by Michelangelo, the other by Raphael. Michelangelo says his right as they’re about to fight The Shredder in the big showdown and the other is at the end when the turtles defeat him. They defeat him by overcoming Shredder with a childhood game they played which is essentially a version of leapfrog. Yeah, because leapfrog is going to outsmart and overcome a trained samurai warrior.
It’s already been confirmed that a sequel will be made and is set to open in 2016. My only hope is that someone in production actually listens to what the fans were saying and do say as a result of this film. Maybe redesign the turtles to look more like the original films. That is, no nostrils, no lips, you know, look more like reptiles and less like crazy halloween makeup.
In addition to my outrage on my site and for my sanity, I’ve been doing a number of things TMNT related as a form of nerd therapy to keep me a fan of this franchise that has motivated me to enter martial arts and learning about sibling rivalry at its finest. What have I been up to? Last year I posted my own list of who and how the TMNT movie should have been made. I’m on my second draft of my own feature length fan script, I have written web-series shorts about the turtles as senior citizens, and I also started creating a graphic comic book/stop-motion series. Be on the lookout for my stuff in the future.
So, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014): 101 very fast-moving minutes with no substance, bland characters, weak storyline, and made me work my gag-reflex more ways than I ever thought I would have to. I’m saddened by this. I’m insulted by this. And I’m glad I didn’t have to pay to watch it. Instead, you could watch some of these fan films that are SO much better. If you MUST see it, save your $15 for a movie ticket and pay $4 from Redbox or wait for Netflix to carry it in a few months.