Review: ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’: Half-shells with half a plot

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Paramount Pictures

Running through the dark streets of New York City, staying hidden while fighting the bad guys, learning the art of ninjutsu, and doing all this with your brothers by your side. Sounds great, right? What about being a six-foot tall turtle who is raised by a sensei who happens to be a rat?

All of this, and more, is in the modern retelling of the ‘90s hit “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.”
But honestly, is more always better? In the original story, there are four turtles who happen to be mutants, who happen to be ninjas, and who also happen to be teenagers. The turtles, named after the Italian Renaissance artists Leonardo, Donatello, Michelangelo, and Raphael, are brothers who are raised by another ninja-mutant who is a rat named Splinter.

Granted, the original story was full of corny jokes and the “great” animation of the ‘80s and ’90s, but everyone who watched it could have a laugh at the adorable pizza-obsessed turtles.
The same, however, cannot be said of the 2014 remake of “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” directed by Jonathan Liebesman.

This film starts off with New York journalist April O’Neil (Megan Fox) trying to cover a recent attack and robbery by the notorious “Foot Clan,” one of New York’s largest gangs.

After getting shut down by everyone from the man at the harbor where the crime took place to her boss, Bernadette Thompson (Whoopi Goldberg), at Channel 6 News, April decides that only plausible thing to do is to go back to the harbor. Alone. In the middle of the night. In New York City.

After reaching the harbor, April realizes that the Foot Clan is back. She does what any sane person would do: takes pictures. What is her safety worth when she can get a photo of one of the biggest gangs in New York City?

Don’t worry, though, a mysterious vigilante comes to save the day. The next day, however, no one believes April when she says that there was an additional attack and that someone stopped it.

After another attack, April sees not one but the four vigilantes and is able to follow the four and take a picture of them as they celebrate the victory against the Foot Clan. What April fails to realize that her flash is on, and the four realize that she is there and sees them. When she sees them up close, though, she notices that the four “men” are not human at all. They delete the photo before April can even ask for her saviors’ names.

Get this, the four “men” are actually the teenage mutant ninja turtles themselves. Didn’t see that one coming, I bet. After seeing the turtles and talking to them, April gets so excited that the next day she tells her boss all about these six-foot-tall talking turtles, and things don’t go exactly according to plan. But then the Ninja Turtles come and save the day.

And that practically sums up the rest of the movie.

Not much else happens in the movie, other than too many slow motion scenes, unrealistic “action” scenes, and many more boxes of pizza.

Between bad one-liners, Fox’s lack of emotional range, a plot line that lacks any depth, and the absence of the original series’s childish humor, this movie was a major letdown to the many who enjoyed the watching the “Turtles” on their Saturday morning cartoons as a child.
If your inner ten-year-old self started fangirling the moment you heard that a remake was happening, don’t go and waste ten dollars on a movie that will only leave you disappointed.

Our Grade: D
Rating: PG-13
Length: 101 minutes
Genre: Action
Director: Jonathan Liebesman
Starring: Megan Fox, Will Arnett, William Fichtner