Monday, February 27, 2017

Superhero Media: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014)

Why does everyone seem to hate this film so much? I started watching expecting a flaming pile of garbage, but found I actually enjoyed a fair bit of it. Don't get me wrong, it's nowhere near as good as the first live action Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990) or Turtles Forever, but the action is good and I was certainly never bored throughout. Whilst I will also agree that Megan Fox is a terrible actor and should have had much less screen time, I actually liked the idea of her having a larger role in the Turtle's backstory. I think that's the problem actually, the film takes such liberties with the (already nebulous) TMNT canon that the "hardcore" fans feel somehow betrayed, with that odd kind of entitlement that people have for the media they love. Yes, Splinter learning Ninjitzu from a book is a bit silly, but is it any more silly than copying the moves of his master in the old films? Hell, the entire TNMT franchise started out as a parody/tribute to Frank Miller's run on Daredevil, so is there really any point drawing a line on how serious the characters and story need to be? 

Speaking of characters, I also hear/read a lot of complaints about how the Turtles look in this film and the sequel, a contention I had agreed with, until I actually saw this film. Yes, the Turtles look odd at over six foot tall and the nostrils are a bit much, but aside from that, I grew quite fond of their new design. Each Turtle is in similar, yet subtly different attire, each evoking a Samurai and/or Shaolin aesthetic, though made out of garbage and detritus. Leo's chest "armour" is made of disposable chopsticks, Donnie's Kusazuri is actually the solar cells that power his gear and Mikey has sewn together two pairs of sneakers to fit his feet. That's some really clever design work that a lot of people will have missed. Little touches like that and the beatboxing scene in the lift really bring up the level of this film, making up for the stumble over Shredder's identity and Fox's terrible acting. 

Before you start posting nasty comments below, I'm not saying that this is a good film, or even good TMNT, but it is fun to watch and held my interest well enough. Is it some kind of betrayal to the franchise? No. If TMNT is broad enough to include the original comic, the '80s cartoon and a rapping xmas album, there's room enough for this version. If you don't like it, that's fine, it's probably just not aimed at you. For me, It's a fun ride with some clever elements and decent fight scenes, basically all I need from TMNT.


  1. My grandaughter loves all the turtle films, even the ones from last century.

  2. It's always great when the young appreciate the classics.