Okay, first things first, ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ is better than you think it will be. It’s better than it deserves to be…but it still has many problems.
Having no previous knowledge of the ‘Ninja Turtles’ franchise, or any nostalgic regard for them, I found the film to serve as a great introduction to the characters, because really that is the one thing that stops this movie from falling to ‘Transformers’ sequel levels of quality: likeable characters.
The turtles are at the heart of the film, rather than the human characters, and are given enough development that it is hard not to care about them by the end of the film. It is easy to see why the quartet of crime-fighting reptiles is so well loved; they are quirky, fun and energetic. While the special effects are a little half-baked, their personalities outshine their appearances.
But there are two sides to the characterisation coin in ‘Ninja Turtles’ and the other is that of the human characters. Megan Fox is talentless as usual, though at least she has more to do than the eye candy she was in ‘Transformers’. While there are still shades of sexism in ‘Ninja Turtles’ its negligible compared to every single female supporting character in a Michael Bay film ever. As for the other humans…who are they again? Not a single other human character comes off as more memorable than a cardboard biscuit, especially the stupid, unthreatening antagonists. It’s difficult to even remember what the threat really was.
The overarching plot is so mind-numbingly stupid and usually just an excuse for the turtles to participate in outlandish action set pieces (though these are pretty good action set pieces). And, unfortunately, the film overall just feels a bit too far on the silly side. Trying to ground these turtles in the real world lets the writers get away with a few legitimately funny gags but at the same time discredits the film’s believability. And you might say, ‘But it’s the ‘Ninja Turtles’, what do you expect?’
Well, I’ve seen many films with silly premises this year. I’ve seen apes riding horses, raccoons riding trees and dragons riding dragons but all these films and their characters believed in their own universes. ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ does not. Only one film springs to mind when comparing the quality of this film to another, the first ‘Transformers’, and while that may not seem unexpected, it is a far better level of quality than I expected after that other franchise’s abysmal fourth installment. But let’s hope ‘Ninja Turtle’s sequels don’t follow the same pattern.
For ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ is not what it could be but it is better than you think it will be, and exactly what it wants to be. For achieving that much, I say Cowabunga!
READ: Daniel’s Review