Ninja Turtles 2014

tmnt2014I saw the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie. It’s not a good movie, but I liked it. I walked out of the theater with that excited feeling you get after seeing an action movie, and the rest of the crowd seemed pretty content as well.

More than anything, this movie has made me realize how much I hate nerds. No, this movie is not going to win any awards. It’s not deep. It’s not artsy. But it was never supposed to be. It’s a summer action blockbuster. It’s not supposed to make you think, it’s just supposed to be fun. So shut up, nerds, and just friggin’ Enjoy A Thing.

I may be a little biased, of course, so take that with a grain of salt.

Anyway, while my overall opinion on the movie is “I had a good time,” there were plenty of things that caused my nerdy self to squirm.

First thing: Splinter. I don’t mind the new physical design, but what’s the deal with his voice? I understand that he’s not a Japanese man-turned-rat here, but he just doesn’t sound very Splintery. And doing an Italian accent? Yeesh. Also, what even is going on with his tail? Can it just extend and retract at will? Because that’s what it looked like. And that’s just stupid. I don’t care if he’s a mutant or not. It’s dumb and is probably the thing that bugged me the most.

I also didn’t care for Shredder’s suit. The gauntlets covered in retractable blades are one thing, but the fact that they shoot out and then fly back into the gauntlets? That’s a bit too silly, even for me. But I get it; if I were eight years old, I would be over the moon for a Shredder with gloves that shoot boomerang blades. If fact, it’s probably something I doodled in a schoolbook back when I was that age.

It also feels Shredder almost seemed like he was shoehorned into a movie where he didn’t really belong. He wasn’t really the big bad ninja crime lord that we know and love, he was essentially just the muscle for the real villain of the film. He had absolutely nothing in the way of character development. Yes, his inclusion made for some good (and characteristically brutal) fight scenes, but that could have been accomplished by making the Foot Clan actual ninjas rather than your run-of-the-mill private army. I know you’re modernizing it for the Call of Duty generation, but… is that really necessary? My point is that Shredder would have better served as the main villain of the inevitable sequel.

You know what? Karai should have been the ninja boss of this movie. She was there the whole damn time, but she didn’t really do anything. And it would have worked perfectly, too. Turtles warm up on Shredder’s apprentice in the first movie, and then move onto the main main in the sequel. It practically writes itself.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles suffers the same problem as the live-action Transformers movies: too much reliance on humans when people are there specifically to see the titular non-human characters. I don’t give a rat’s patoot about Megan Fox. Sure, she can pal around with them, but she should not be the main character of the film. On the other hand, that did allow for Will Arnett to have plenty of screen time, and that’s never a bad thing.

The whole chase/mountainside scene that formed the middle of the film was completely unnecessary and out of character for the franchise. It just felt really weird. It took me a while, but I’ve realized that Ninja Turtles is actually just a classic James Bond flick in disguise. I could go into detail about how I came to that conclusion, but that’s another post. It’d probably be longer than this one, even.

So what’s good about it? The Turtles are great, it’s just that they don’t get enough focus or characterization because it’s gotta be all Megan Fox all the time in this one. And I don’t care what anyone says, I like the new designs (they’re just a little too tall). I love that Donatello wears glasses, and I never thought that I’d like Raph as a massive bruiser as much as I do. The fight scenes pleased me to no end, aside from Splinter’s extendable tail and Shredder’s overblown hardware. It was funny; a very good percentage of the jokes made me laugh out loud. Karai was in it. She didn’t really do anything, but she’s established at least. Maybe she’ll have a bigger actual role in the sequel.

At the end of the day, though, I enjoyed it. Like I said at the top, it’s not a good movie, but it’s fun enough if you just take it on its own terms. If you’re looking for actual good TMNT media, check out the Nickelodeon cartoon or the current comic series. The former is excellent and the latter is outstanding. Seriously, go get you some of that. I love that comic.

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