Extremely cartoony, but full of heart. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is a movie that I’ve always wanted in theory. I grew up watching or reading the turtles and the idea of a live action movie seems great until you actually see it. I didn’t spend money going to see it in theatres because it never looked that great, but I did catch it on DVD when it came out. I can’t remember generally how I felt about that movie, and I really couldn’t remember much about it at all. I was going through all of my movies and finally decided to give this movie another chance to see if it has grown on me over the years or not. I also forgot that Michael Bay produced this movie which is very apparent when you watch it.
The first thing I noticed when watching this movie was that Michael Bay did in fact produce this movie, but what surprised me more that he wasn’t the director. It could be that he was producing it and may have been on set, I’m not sure, but it felt very much like his movie that he was directing. The visual style, the angles, the flares and sexual references, everything seemed to fit right in with your typical kind of Michael Bay movie. He has this weird visual style that really feels most similar to his work on the Transformers movies.
The other thing I noticed was how familiar the movie actually felt to some other movies. One of the movies came out a few years before this and the other came out in the same year. The Amazing Spider-Man 1 and 2. If you watch this movie and haven’t seen those then make sure you watch them so you can see just how familiar it really feels. Every plot point outside of the characters being turtles felt ripped straight from those movies.
In all fairness though, the plot isn’t that deep that I’ll give it a pass for feeling similar since I’m sure that before Spider-Man we have probably seen this plot in other movies before. Everything is pretty basic about this movie, so the real draw comes from the turtles themselves, the action, and the rest of the characters. That’s the only chance this movie has at being enjoyable in any way.
Thankfully though, if you don’t look too much into the overall quality, this movie is actually enjoyable to an extent. I don’t see it as being entirely smart or actually standout as being a gem of any kind, but it does have heart and is a lot of fun. It’s interesting that Megan Fox plays in both this and Transformers, but in this case she plays more of the Shia LaBeouf character from the Transformer movies. I also completely forgot that Will Arnett was in this movie and he was a lot of fun to see.
As I said though, the real draw comes from the turtles, the characters, and the action. The characters outside of the Turtles, April and Vern are all one note and bland especially Shredder and Eric Sacks. As villains, they needed to have a little more depth, but they were just your typical kind of mustache twirling villain that had a plan that worked only as being a stupid idea that would only work for the sake of a movie. I guess I can’t fault it for that since this is a movie but still.
The Turtles though are actually impressive as far as style and actual character go. I would say that the CGI or motion capture for the turtles does look a little weird or more alien than anything else, but I never had much of a problem with that. I also like that even with them being CGI, they actually had quite a bit of depth. If you get past the ridiculous notion that April was tied to their backstory, they actually have a really good origin. It only gets better with their development throughout the film most notably from Raphael.
All of the turtles have their usual personalities that we know and love, but the real standout it Raphael who goes through the most development throughout the film. At first he’s reluctant to accept Leonardo as the leader and is more arrogant, but by the end of the film he reveals what was holding him back and fully accepts his role on the team. As I said before, this movie has a lot of heart and this is one of the instances.
The only other thing to really point out is the action overall and Shredder as a formidable foe for the turtles. Shredder looks like the Shredder that we know but if he magically found some Transformers tech and crossed over into this world. I’m not entirely on board with his design, but he was also pretty enjoyable to watch. The major downside being that we just don’t get enough of him as the villain. The action though overall is quite impressive and stuck out to me the most. It was thrilling and engaging with some great swooping camera shots especially during the chase scene on the mountain. I do respect it for having better visual action than I remember it having.
This movie is as forgettable as it is enjoyable for the moment. It’s one of those movies that you live in the moment with and as soon as it’s over you start to forget about it. I’m sure that in a few days I will have already forgotten about it. If you are a fan of the Ninja Turtles or even the Transformers movies then I’m sure you’ll enjoy this one. I don’t think this is for your average moviegoer and I think hits better with kids rather than adults. It’s weird though because the target is for kids, but it has a lot of inappropriate jokes like the Transformers movies that I just don’t understand the need for. In the end, it’s extremely cartoony but very much full of heart.