Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014) – Review

Directed by Jonathan Liebesman
Written by Josh Applebaum, Andre Nemec, Evan Daugherty
Starring Megan Fox, Will Arnett, William Fichtner
When a kingpin threatens New York City, a group of mutated turtle warriors must emerge from the shadows to protect their home.

Frankly, I was too old to be really excited (but I still was) when Megan Fox leant under her hood in Transformers. I was also way too old too get excited about TMNT the first time around. So what chance for this then, the latest vehicle that tries to convince us (despite some very good examples to the contrary this year) that Hollywood actually has run out of imagination almost entirely?
Well, you might be right to assume that it’s on a hiding to nothing straight from the outset. I had breathed a sigh of relief the other week when my kids decided not to watch this when we went to the cinema, choosing The Maze Runner instead, but it was a choice at the time between that and this that could have gone horribly wrong, and with hindsight, perhaps should not have been offered in the first place. Still, like the good reviewer I am, I still sat down with this earlier today, a quiet Sunday afternoon, a couple of weeks before Christmas, just to make sure I hadn’t missed anything important and  by association, hadn’t let you, my faithful reader, down. I mean, really, how could I in all good conscience draw up my long-list and shortlist for the years’ best films if I hadn’t seen those that may (or may not) have made it in there, just through sheer negligence? Bad, bad Steve. Well, anyway, time to put that right.
“I know you want to be a serious journalist, but sometimes it’s nice to just give 
people at little froth”
Hmm, sage words perhaps, not to mention timely. As reporter April (Fox) jumps up and down on a trampette in the middle of New York City on the first day of spring for a news story about losing ‘that winter weight’, we are already abundantly aware that she needs to be careful what she wishes for, thanks not least to that over-long narrated animated introduction that tells the audience pretty much what they know already. This is a story about some mutated turtles. Teenage ones. That are ninjas. Duh.
When she then witnesses an attempted robbery by the notorious Foot Clan, before it is curtailed by a masked vigilante, she takes the story to her news editor, who without a shred of evidence, ridicules April for not doing her job. A young, beautiful, misunderstood reporter doing the best she can, believed by no-one. Surely this can’t be right? Justice will surely be served when the truth comes out, right?

As I said, I’m not a big Turtles fan. I didn’t take to the original, altogether cutsier versions, and frankly, I like these ones less than that. At least the half-shelled teenagers from my younger days were relatively normal, in superhero reptillian circles at least, adn not the annoying versions they are today. Perhaps it’s just that I’m getting older, but these turtles somehow seem more vapid and more likely to know who the Kardashians are better than I do, and I haven’t lived in a sewer my whole life.

Predictably, the plot is completely ridiculous, as is the teeth-grating script. Only a mutated reptile could really get away with saying most of what ends up on screen, which is just as well. A decent-ish performance from William Fichtner is hampered by being in such a bloody awful offering and this is a shame, but nobody made him do it, I’m guessing. Megan Fox’s appearance is less of a surprise, I suppose, given her lack of big screen time of late and if we’re honest, the best part of her performance came when leaning out of a truck, allowing Will Arnett’s character, a leery co-worker, the opportunity to gawp at her backside. The existence of that shot and the decision to keep it in speaks volumes about the level at which we’re working and the content we are being asked to swallow.

With some outstanding FX, there is bang for your buck, and the CGI is very impressive, not least on the turtles themselves. This doesn’t make up for the horrible plot and mostly dreadful acting that you have to put up with in order to see the eye candy. Like Transformers, while it may look great, it seriously needs a shot in the arm when it comes to soul. Avoid if you can my friends. I may have had to watch it, but you don’t have to. Unnecessary and pointless is fine if you’re making it cool or funny. This is neither, I’m, afraid.

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