Four turtles, Leonardo (Pete Ploszek), Raphael (Alan Ritchson), Michelangelo (Noel Fisher), and Donatello (Jeremy Howard), and their master, a rat named Splinter (Danny Woodburn), were mutated by a mysterious experiment. Fifteen years later, the four brothers must protect New York City from the Foot Clan, led by Shredder (Tohoru Masamune).
I was in an interesting place growing up with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles because I had not one but two series I could call mine. I was at the tail end of the original cartoon that started in the 1980s, plus there was another series in the early 2000s that I also watched. One thing that I have always enjoyed about the TMNT franchise as a whole is that each generation has their own incarnation and each one is different. So having seen a few different versions of the characters, I was looking forward to seeing this interpretation.
In every new version of the turtles, it is very important that the familial relationship between the turtles and their various personalities are correctly translated. That might be what Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles does best. Each of the turtles’ personalities are exactly what is to be expected from them. I don’t want to go into what makes them such great characters and why I like them so much because of their dynamic, so as long as you understand the turtles were faithfully portrayed here then we’re good.
I really liked the look of the turtles. In most incarnations, the main visual distinction between the four brothers have been the colors of their masks, if they weren’t holding their weapons. Here, each of them have something unique about them that fit into their personality, such as Donatello’s goggles, Michelangelo’s surfer-shell necklaces and Raphael’s bandanna. Even their physical appearances differed slightly. It may not be much but these small differences were a nice touch that really made them stand out from previous versions of the characters.
Throughout the movie, I was having a hard time telling if it was trying to be serious or playful. It did poked fun at itself several times. I mean, the series has always had a ridiculous premise anyway and is pretty much a spoof. But hey, that’s comics. For the most part, it did well to understand that and never became overly serious. There were times it felt like it was trying to show a serious side but those moments didn’t last too long and it moved on before it embarrassed itself.
Although the film was around an hour and forty-five minutes long, it felt like it moved quickly and not necessarily in a good way. You can feel Michael Bay’s influence, for better or worse. The movie mostly follows April O’Neil (Megan Fox) but quickly introduces us to the titular turtles, then is followed by one action piece after another. It doesn’t take any time to establish the villains, other than letting the audience they are tough.
There are two villains in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder and Eric Sacks. Most of the time spent with the villains is spent with Sacks, mostly because he has a personal connection to April. This left Shredder relegated to being the muscle. Shredder isn’t supposed to be simply the muscle. He is supposed to be the one giving orders, not taking them. He is briefly seen outside of his suit (which is pretty cool by the way) early on then after that he is only in the suit. As much as this film seemed to get the turtles right, it really dropped the ball on the franchise’s most iconic bad guy.
I thought Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was GOOD :-). Although Shredder was lacking, the rest of the main characters from the TMNT mythos were portrayed well. Despite the normal run time, it still feels rushed, sacrificing development for any character who wasn’t one of the turtles for action. I still had fun but I couldn’t help think there was missed potential to be a great film.
April O’Neil: What are you?
Leonardo: Well, miss, we’re ninjas.
Raphael: We’re mutants.
Donatello: Technically, we’re turtles.
Michelangelo: Oh, and we’re teenagers. But we can still have adult conversations.
April: You’re… Ninja Mutant Turtle Teenagers?
Donatello: Well when you put it like that it sounds ridiculous.
Cast & Crew
Jonathan Liebesman – Director
Josh Applebaum – Writer
Andre Nemec – Writer
Evan Daugherty – Writer
Bryan Tyler – Composer
Megan Fox – April O’Neil
Will Arnett – Vernon Fenwick
William Fichtner – Eric Sacks
Pete Ploszek – Leonardo
Johnny Knoxville – Leonardo (voice)
Alan Ritchson – Raphael
Noel Fisher – Michelangelo
Jeremy Howard – Donatello
Danny Woodburn – Splinter
Tony Shalhoub – Splinter (voice)
Tohoru Masamune – Shredder
Whoopi Goldberg – Bernadette Thompson
Minae Noji – Karai
Abby Elliott – Taylor
Paul Fitzgerald – Dr. O’Neil
Malina Weissman – Young April O’Neil