Several years after the famous/infamous series Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles had been laid to rest on the big screen, we have been presented with a reboot, which it may have admittedly been high time for in some regard (though I did want to see a follow-up to 2007's TMNT). And ultimately, it's a reboot that cannot seem to figure out for the life of itself if it wants to be a good upgrade to the original films (which look horribly dated now) and still pay tribute to its predecessors/source material--or if it just wants to take a a giant dump on them.
We are introduced to the four ninja turtles--Michelangelo, Donatello, Raphael and Leonardo--all having been upgraded visually thanks to better CGI--and Splinter, their rodent master--trying to defend the city against the Foot Clan and their master Shredder, a samurai. Familiar storyline, for those who have seen at least the first 1990 film.
We are also introduced to April O'Neil, who is perhaps one of the main subjects of how this reboot sometimes takes a giant dump on its predecessors--partially by casting Megan Fox as April. There goes our hope for acting down the tube. (And why, you may ask? Well, um... Michael Bay is involved heavily with this film. Producer, as a matter of fact.) And although the new origin storyline is acceptable for me, it is also probably going to make a lot of fans mad. What's more upsetting is the absence of Casey Jones and his replacing with Vernon Fenwick (Will Arnett), who is honestly a bit of a perv. (Casey's absence is supposed to be fixed in the upcoming sequel.)
As you can see, there has been a lot of modifying to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Some of it's good, for sure--for example, the hideout is much better now thanks to the turtles using modern-day technology now to spy on what's going on. Plus, Shredder's new armor is pretty darn awesome (even if his weird voice makes you go "Wha...?") Some of it's also not so good. I already mentioned the changes to the human characters, but a couple turtles themselves go through some personality changes of sorts. Raphael actually becomes a bit of a wimp late in the film. And Donatello is suddenly a glasses-wearing nerd.
These changes, despite themselves, are hardly the only reason that this movie falls short most of the way through. The issue is how shockingly slow the movie is early on. We don't even see much in the way of actual action for almost the entire first half of the movie--a couple quick skirmishes, that's about it. Meanwhile we're left with... Megan Fox and a rather annoying Will Arnett.
Once we do get into the action, it's pretty cool, to be sure. One thing you can be sure of from Michael Bay--even if he's only producing--is that action and special effects geeks like myself will be gawking (even if on a lesser level than in his other movies). We get to watch a pretty darn cool fight between Shredder and Splinter, and there is an extended car/truck chase/battle sequence in the snow that stands out in the film as its most memorable part.
It's sad, but the truth is that a lot of what's wrong with this film is that we aren't getting *enough* action. The rest of the movie tends to be unfortunately dull at times. The turtles' wisecracks are lacking now most of the way (part of what made the original movie a guilty pleasure of sorts), and we don't even see a whole lot of the turtles themselves during that first third or half or so of the movie.
There's potential, for sure. There are a couple funny parts, and if they decide to ramp up the action in the next film, that could actually help them a lot--with regards to at least being a bit more entertaining, anyway. It's tough to say, though. There will be some other things that will have to change in the process to get a significantly better movie. We will also have to remember that the Ninja Turtles series, even at its best, isn't A-grade worthy and probably never will be.