“A shell-packed action film full of nostalgia!”
Thanks to Paramount Pictures, we were among the first people in Australia to see ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ at its Australian premiere. This is our review of the film, but – as usual – no matter what we say, we recommend that you still go to your local cinema and see the film because there is no better critic than yourself!
Based on the iconic comic book created by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird in 1984, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles follows the adventures of turtles Leonardo, Donatello, Michelangelo and Raphael, who, after being test subjects for experiments, became mutants. Their father, Splinter (a rat and fellow victim of laboratory testing), adopts and trains them in the art of ninjutsu so that they are able to protect themselves and the citizens of New York City.
The turtles’ lives change when they meet April O’Neill (Megan Fox), a reporter investigating a terrorist organization known as ‘The Foot’, which is under the command of a mysterious warrior who calls himself ‘Shredder.’
Directed by Jonathan Liebesman (Battle: L.A.), this new take on the Ninja Turtles hit cinemas amidst major criticism by fans of the beloved half-shell heroes, who were apprehensive about Michael Bay’s appointment as producer. The master of explosions and silly jokes, Bay claimed, in the early stages of production, that the turtles might be aliens, rather than mutants, prompting an angry response from fans. And they were further outraged by the new look of their beloved mutants, and upon hearing the news that Shredder was set to be played by William Fichtner (Armageddon, Prison Break). Along with all the ninja turtle fans, we found there was nothing to fear; fortunately, the film is not what Bay haters expected. The TMNT reboot is a nostalgic, action-packed ride, remaining true to the characters and delivering a storyline that could easily be taken from any of the cartoon episodes. Some tweaks have been made to the turtles’ origins, but don’t worry – they aren’t aliens.
The ‘human’ cast members truly serve as supports, as the turtles are the real stars of the film. Despite some silly jokes made by April O’Neill’s cameraman, Verne (Will Arnett), the human characters are not along the lines of those portrayed by John Turturro or Ramon Rodriguez in the Transformers saga. Moreover, the comedy in the film works perfectly, as most of the jokes are courtesy of Michelangelo, with his unique childish style.
The special effects and action scenes are great. The turtles steal the spotlight and their personalities are what we expect. Michelangelo is the clown of the gang, Leo is the leader who clashes constantly with Raphael (who tests his authority), while Donatello is presented as a geeky genius (and despite how much we hate the fact that he wears huge eyeglasses, even when fighting, his personality and Bo Staff skills make you overlook that tiny detail.) Additionally, Splinter kicks some serious ass, and even reminded us of the first time we saw Yoda fighting with a light saber. We have to say that his look is even more ratlike than in previous versions, making him more unappealing to some viewers. (What do you expect? He’s a huge rat!)
Speaking of humans, fans will be happy to know that despite early rumours, William Fichtner does not play the Shredder, but merely a kingpin who works for him (thank God!). By the way, the Shredder looks badass, his iconic armor now enhanced by some hi-tech updates, courtesy of Fichtner’s millionaire character, Eric Sacks. Despite claiming to be a huge ninja turtles fan, and doing her best to revive the character of April O’Neill, Megan Fox gives a very mediocre performance, which is mostly redeemed by the fact that she wears the iconic yellow jacket most of the time. Another disappointment was the rushed and underdeveloped exit of William Fichtner’s character, which seemed strange after the pains taken to develop his character throughout the film.
Overall, Liebesman’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film exceeded the expectations of many viewers, and Michael Bay’s influence seems very minimal. The film delivers nostalgia, action, and some really cool references to the previous films from the 90s (diehard fans will recognize a couple of scenes). You may not hear the word ‘Cowabunga’ uttered with the same energy of earlier productions, but you’re sure to enjoy this new adventure of the four heroic ninja turtles (who, for sure, will be back.)
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – In cinemas across Australia September 11