Direction: Jonathan Liebesman; Cast: Megan Fox, Alan Ritchson, Jeremy Howard, Pete Ploszek, Noel Fisher, Will Arnett, Danny Woodburn, William Fichtner, Johnny Knoxville; Screenplay: Josh Appelbaum, Andre Nemec, Evan Daugherty. Based on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles by Peter Laird; Editing: Joel Negron, Glen Scantlebury; Producer: Michael Bay, etc; Music: Brian Tyler; Genre: Sci-Fi Action Comedy; Distributor: Paramount Pictures; Location: New York; Running Time: 101 minutes
Technical assessment: 3 Moral Assessment: 3 CINEMA rating: V13
April O’Neil (Meg Ryan) wants to be taken seriously as a journalist at New York’s Channel 5. But this cannot happen as long as she is assigned to bit segments of exercise and trampoline jumps. So she chases a lead about the notorious Foot Clan led by Shredder (Masamune) as they are about to unload something at the docks. However, April catches a shadowy figure who takes out the foot soldiers one by one and convinces her of the existence of a vigilante who will protect the city against the Foot Clan. April tries to sell her story to her editor Bernadette (Goldberg) but without hard proof, she ends up as the news team’s joke of a reporter. April, encounters the vigilante once again as the Foot Clan holds hostage the train commuters, but this time she realizes that the vigilantes are four mutated turtle humanoids trained in ninja techniques. She brings this story to Bernadette and eventually gets fired. April then goes to Sacks, her father’s former laboratory partner who helped developed a mutagen aimed to heal people. Apparently, the laboratory caught fire and the lab turtles and mouse used for experimentation were saved by a young April which later transformed into mutated creatures. Unaware that Sacks is behind the Foot Clan, April unintentionally leads them to the turtles’ lair. Three turtles—Leo, Donnie and Michael—are captured so Sacks can extract the mutagens in their genes. April, together with Raphael, free the captured turtles and attack Shredder before they are able to release the toxin to the city.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (TMNT) is one of those beloved franchises with a solid fanbase from the 90s. Perhaps producer Michael Bay thought this was enough reason to resurrect the series without updating its elements. Production-wise TMNT delivers what is expected on a silver platter. The action sequences are fun and dynamic but offers nothing new. The computer generated effects are well crafted but little effort has been placed in trying to differentiate the turtle's characters from one another. The humans are cardboard flat and dry. Michael Bay being Michael Bay has his signature noise and explosions every possible time. Is the movie worth your while? Maybe, if you belong to the 90s Gen Y or have nothing better to do.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles can be seen as the perennial quest of good versus bad and good triumphing in the end. The question is if this was placed to make the movie palatable and mask the narrative shortcoming and obsession with explosion. Trying to force a moral to the story, one can point how people are willing to seek and fight for the truth. And how the young should be made aware of their responsibility to society especially if they are good and able to do so. While motivations of the characters for seeking and fighting truth are arguable, TMNT to an extent offers a glimpse of heroism, selflessness and the commitment to be our brother's protector. Of course, it takes effort to decipher these messages amidst the standard explosions required by the producer.