Saturday, February 7, 2015

Review: "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" Reboot is Actually Good

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 8 (of 2014) by Leroy Douresseaux

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014)
Running time:  101 minutes (1 hour, 41 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for sci-fi action violence
DIRECTOR:  Jonathan Liebesman
WRITERS:  Josh Appelbaum, André Nemec, and Evan Daugherty (based on characters created by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird)
PRODUCERS:  Michael Bay, Ian Bryce, Andrew Form , Bradley Fuller, Scott Mednick, and Galen Walker
CINEMATOGRAPHER:  Luis Carvalho (D.o.P.)
EDITORS:  Joel Negron and Glen Scantlebury
COMPOSER:  Brian Tyler

MARTIAL ARTS/FANTASY/ACTION with elements of comedy

Starring:  Megan Fox, Will Arnett, William Fichtner, Tohoru Masamune, Whoopi Goldberg, Minae Noji, Abby Elliot, Pete Ploszek, Danny Woodburn, and the voices of Alan Ritchson, Noel Fisher, Jeremy Howard, Johnny Knoxville, and Tony Shalhoub

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is a 2014 martial arts fantasy and action film from director Jonathan Liebesman.  The film is based on the media franchise, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (also known as the “Ninja Turtles” or by the abbreviation, “TMNT”), which began with a black and white comic book created by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird and first published in 1984.

This recent film is also a reboot of the TMNT film franchise, which began with a 1990 film and its two sequels (released by New Line Cinema).  Warner Bros. Pictures released a computer-animated TMNT film, also entitled Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in 2007.  The new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie focuses on a group of mutated turtle warriors that emerge from the shadows to protect their home, New York City, and the TV reporter who helps them.

The film introduces April O'Neil (Megan Fox), a television news reporter at station Channel 6.  She has been researching a gang called the “Foot Clan,” but few people take her or her investigation seriously.  April's cameraman, Vern Fenwick (Will Arnett), humors her, but would rather date April than believe in her as a serious reporter.  April's boss, Bernadette Thompson (Whoopi Goldberg), tolerates the young reporter's ambitions, but is deliberately oblivious of April's findings.

April tracks members the Foot Clan and witnesses their attack on a subway station.  There, April meets a group of vigilantes determined to foil the clan.  Much to her shock, however, they are four teenage mutant ninja turtlesRaphael (Alan Ritchson), Michelangelo (Noel Fisher), Donatello (Jeremy Howard), and Leonardo (Pete Ploszek and Johnny Knoxville).  They introduce April to their mentor and surrogate father, Splinter (Tony Shalhoub), a mutated, anthropomorphic rat who is a master of the ninja arts.  April also gets caught up in Splinter and the turtles' war against the Foot Clan's leader, The Shredder (Tohoru Masamune), who has a connection to April's past.

Michael Bay and his production company, Platinum Dunes, are two of the entities behind Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2014.  Bay, who has dedicated his efforts as a film director to the Transformers movie franchise for the last decade, has also restarted many movie franchises through remakes and reboots.  Thankfully, this new Ninja Turtles movie is not like Bay's Transformers films or like some of his horror movie reboots.

Many of the sound effects in this movie sound like sound effects in Transformers movies.  However, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2014 director, Jonathan Liebesman, keeps the Michael Bay touches to a minimum.  Using the work of writers Josh Appelbaum, André Nemec, and Evan Daugherty, Liebesman makes a straight-forward movie.  It manages to be cute (as when the Turtles bang out a hip hop beat with nunchucks and beat-boxing).  The film also manages to offer well-staged martial arts fights and the kind of explosive action sequences that the original film could not.  The film also hits some nice notes about the bonds of family and friendship.  This movie has the kind of story and action that makes it serious-minded enough to appeal to older audiences while entertaining younger viewers.

I know that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2014 got a lot of bad, poor, and mixed reviews, but these critics and reviewers probably take either themselves or this movie too seriously (or both).  For a good time, however, invite these Turtles over, and, of course, enjoy this movie with pizza.

6 of 10

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

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