So it appears that Michael Bay wants to destroy almost every property that holds some nostalgic joy for anyone born in or around the 80’s. The turtles started as comic book heroes intentionally riffing on Frank Millers style of writing but did not truly take off until they starred in a TV series aimed at children. After the TV series was a hit we had the first film which was something in between the comic and TV, a dark, gritty romp with comedy elements that did not betray the source material. Now it’s 2014 and after 4 films we have a new live action fare from producer Michael Bay and directed by Jonathan Liebesman.
Not pictured here; Artists. These assholes are laughing all the way to the bank.
Our story starts with April O’Neil (Megan Fox) attempting to report on a mysterious vigilante fighting back against the foot clan, dragging her camera man Vernon Fenwick (Will Arnett) into the investigation. Meanwhile Eric Sachs (William Fichtner) vows to stop the foot clan from attacking and stealing from the populous. Our heroes Leonardo (Johnny Knoxville), Donatello (Jeremy Howard), Michelangelo (Noël Fisher) and Raphael (Alan Richton) are trained by splinter (Tony Shalhoub) to fight back against the foot while living in the sewers. When April O’Neil is revealed to have played a key role in the creation of the turtles, she is put in danger and must work with the them to stop Shredder (Tohoru Masamune) from doing something involving mutagen.
Not the worst thing in this movie.
So, let’s get to the characters, April is fine and works within the universe of the turtles, I am not a fan of Megan Fox but she seems to be trying here, Will Arnett is her comedy sidekick and shares much of his screen time with her. The turtles are pretty big and that does not always work, when fighting it seems like nothing can oppose them even when they are fighting heavily armoured vehicles BUT they have got the personalities right. Splinter seems to be affected by this less and despite a few changes to the origin story he is Splinter, tail and all. Shredder is a transformer style robot and this is the biggest issue, a slow lumbering giant suit of armour goes up against a super fast bunch of turtles expecting to win, it just does not seem thought out but Bay has to get his transformers in somehow.
Left foot then right foot, come on Shredder we have practised this do not embarrass yourself in the giant robot armour.
The story is actually not that bad, it matches up with the older cartoons but as the turtles are bigger so are the enemies which means we see gun brandishing troops vs turtles instead of the traditional foot ninjas. Everyone has a role to play and Raphael learns his lesson about team work through a solo defeat against Shredformer. April learning about her father and his ties to Sach make for a subplot but it isn’t required in a film like this nor is the change to the origin story that shoe horns in characters for no reason.
If you loved the origin before prepare to be disappointed.
All in all this film is mediocre and that is probably the best that can be expected when you have Bay and Liebesman (The director of Wrath of the Titans for fuck sake, who thought he was a good choice?) bastardising a well loved property. Fingers crossed there is no sequel.
I give this a Sean Astin (2nd worst score) since my love of the original series kept me watching but the film left me wandering how much Bay influenced everything.