I just got back from a matinee of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as murdered by Michael Bay. I came back and surfed the Urban Dictionary, whose definitions of Michael Bay were individually more clever than the entire plot of the film.
If you enjoyed Transformers, then TMNT will please you. Hot girls in hopelessly tight outfits giggle and twist in revealing and precarious ways. Everything explodes. I mean, there is a scene in the trailer where a steel tower collapses, and the solid pieces of steel explode as they bend. We’ve got to stop using nitroglycerin as a fixative in industrial paints, people. The turtles land with cement-exploding force. Turtle acrobats leap through solid walls,, that explode. Craters, squibs, and fog machine industries are secure as long as Michael Bay continues to get film rights.
Everything but the transforming sound effects from Transformers has been recycled here.
The turtles are played by the Incredible Hulk, with perhaps a glimmer of voice acting talent in Donatello’s lines (needless to say he gets the fewest lines). Ninjitsu, that martial art designed for small, wiry Japanese gardener type bad-asses, is based entirely on balance, precision, and control. Wire-Fu 840-degree spins precede every other blow, wildly telegraphed, or completely immune to physics. I had really hoped that the CGI turtles meant that they would be able to use actual ninjitsu with motion capture. Instead of agile precision martial artists, the Hulk-Turtles toss shipping containers around, bench-press large portions of buildings, and catch themselves from a 90+-story fall on their legs.
I mean, if you can fall 90+ stories and catch yourselves on your legs without every bone in your body exploding, there is no reason to freak out that you’re falling, much less a chance to have a forced we’re about to die last-seconds dialogue.
Then there is the tragic violation of the Turtles’ mythology. The ninja rivalry between Shredder and Splinter is gone. They are no longer ancient rival Ninja masters. Splinter got a single 100-page flip book of Ninjitsu floating in the New York sewer system (which is more believable than exploding solid metal girders), teaches himself to be a Ninja master, and then teaches his ‘sons’. Revision has always been part of the story (ever since the 1980’s cartoon made Heather O’Niell not black as a ‘black Irish’ joke from the original), but wow. Instead they instantly become arch-enemies in a single second and then have a long and almost completely useless fight.
There were some witty dialogue moments between the turtles themselves, and every other character vomited recycled lines that could have been, and probably were, clipped whole from a library of prior action-adventure films.
The Foot Clan does not contain any ninjas except for The Shredder. I guess the idea of a ninja clan with ninjas in it is too much for my second-worst director of the decade to grasp. They’re all plastic-mask wearing special ops types with assault rifles, and no identifying marks on them at all. They talk about returning to victory (from what never mentioned, over what… never mentioned).
There were some perks. There were some clever moments of dialogue, and the flashback scene to pre-teen Turtles were absolutely adorable and fun. That’s 5 minutes worth of a 90-minute movie.
The American worship of Family as the fourth member of the Trinity is perhaps the only redeeming value here. Splinter saw April’s love for her family and decided to show it to the turtles. Fine. Cool.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles without the Ninja, the Teenagers (they are built bigger than NFL linebackers), and the Turtles (velociraptor suits and shells shoved over the Incredible Hulk).
The story is a mutant indeed. Michael Bay, I am commanded to pray for those who persecute me. You made the list.
This movie really, truly sucks the life out of my soul to even think about it. The fact that movies this crappy make a lot of money in America makes me think sad thoughts about our country.