Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Turtles Slow To Impress

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles brings out the kid in you…by making you want to throw a tantrum!


ARTH VADER (AV): How many, Ponitificator? How many times must we live through the re-telling of a non-sensical origin story? Every time a Batman, Superman, Fantastic Four or Spider-Man franchise gets a re-boot, we (the audience) has to suffer through the bumbling retelling of a hero’s origin. Aren’t we past this? Every kid in America knows the Turtles were the bi-product of a chemically-induced mutation. Why am I sitting in reboot after reboot of this stories? They’re not necessary. Sure this one told it with a new kind of flair but in the end, we’re watching something we already know. And the argument over new kids, new audience is bunk. Yeah, thats right i said it! Hey I don’t need the ‘from-the-beginning’ back story on every movie, TV show and web series I watch and forcing me to sit through this one was a bad way to start, What were your thoughts, P-Man? Did you just love seeing yet another retold origin? 

THE PONTIFICATOR (TP): Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have been around since 1984 and have spawned everything from cartoons, toys, films and all kinds of merchandising. This film is part of a very long phenomenon known as Turtle Power and can’t very much stray from continuity since there is hardly an angle that hasn’t been covered with these teenaged ninja reptiles. It didn’t really bother me to see the origin again Vader, although wouldn’t it be cool if just once they do the origin in the second or third film (although I’m not saying there should be more Turtles films)?


AV: I’m not pulling any punches here, Ponty (no not even Karate kicks). Every facet of this movie was a train wreck. Casting? Megan Fox had no business being in this film. Her flat, tired delivery was dull at best. Whoopi Goldberg, what are you doing? Stop it! You’re better than this! Will Arnett? Dude, you voiced Batman in the Lego Movie. My how the aspiring have fallen. Bill Fitchner? This was a new low for you, buddy. Director Jonathan “Battle LA” Liebesman; there were moments of brilliance, drowned out by the rest of this film’s mediocrity. Lastly, I found the acting as plastic as the over-priced action figures I’m not going to buy. Pontificator, did you have anything nice to say about the direction of this flick?

TP: Megan Fox takes the lead here (did I just say that?) as April O’Neil and while her performance is passable, there is nothing noteworthy in her delivery. Backed up by William Fitchner (the only other name I recognize), there isn’t much for him to do besides be a bad guy playing at being a good guy (but we knew from the start that he was going to be bad). The Turtles themselves are brought to life with motion-capture and CGI with the only name I recognize there being Johnny Knoxville (as the voice of Leonardo) meaning…anyone could have been cast as the Turtles (no acting skills required…see Megan Fox). The pace of the film reminded me of the old cartoon with things seeming to happen, just to happen, but on the upside, I didn’t fall asleep (was that nice enough Vader?).


AV: When you spend $125 million on the production of a movie, I expect a better end product than this. Sure, sure the visual effects  were good. But name a good movie, just one, where the effects were so good you forgot how bad the screenplay was? Can’t think of one? That’s because it doesn’t exist. Look, I’m the first one to state how much I love this stuff but for Christmas sake, Hollywood, for $125 million you’re telling me you can’t spend a few bucks on writers that could try and make sense of it all? C’mon, Hollywood, what are we doing here? Saying a movie looks good is like saying a person looks good. The next comment is usually, “yeah, and…?” Looks good but so do a lot of things that aren’t good for me. 

TP: The special effects were pretty good, but I really expected better seeing as how the original 1990 film’s animatronics and costuming still hold up pretty well today. The Turtles certainly looked more real than they did all those years ago, but they just didn’t seem to have come far enough considering some of the incredible stuff being seen in films these days. The occasional use of 3D was nice (those knives really came at me), but was too sparse to justify even using it. Sometimes the effects bordered on the ridiculous (the whole truck down the mountain scene) but when the subject is mutated ninja turtles…it’s all good…I guess.


AV: When co-creators Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird first created the Teenage Mutant Turtles in western Massachusetts in the mid 1980’s, they were poking fun at comic book hero archetypes that were big at the time. The New Mutants (a junior team of X-Men who were teens), Wolverine and Daredevil constantly seemed to be at war with Ninjas–even the X-Man Psylock was trained as a ninja. Who the heck knows what the turtle reference was, but the point is the book was dark, gritty, gruesome and just slightly disturbing. It was a hit and for all these reasons. they were true anti-heroes and somewhere between all the kid’s TV shows and action figures and pizza endorsements they have lost their way. What we have instead is blatant money grab properties that are pun per at us every few years to remind us–and our kids–just how gullible we are and how easily we can be suckered into the bad purchase. 

TP: Lordy… where do I begin here? Let’s start with April O’Neil redecorating her office with a ton of “evidence” that the Turtles exist, to show her boss…but never shows her boss the film and video evidence she has (and subsequently gets fired for having no evidence). Then, after that, she goes and shows Sacks (the bad guy unbeknownst to only her since I called that from the beginning) who immediately believes her (showing the actual strength of the evidence that she didn’t show her boss). Umm…. what? Later, the bad guys need to recover the mutagen from the blood of the Turtles for their master plan (more on that later) but take three of the Turtles leaving Splinter for dead. Umm… doesn’t Splinter also have the mutagen in his blood? Why not take him also if the goal is to get as much mutagen as possible? When April O’Neil finally catches up to where the Turtles are being held captive, instead of just going about freeing them quietly, she decides to scream Raphael’s name as he fights Shredder, thus alerting the ultimate bad guy that they are there. Great stealth tactic. After Shredder beats the bejesus out of Raphael he simply leaves the area… instead of say, killing O’Neil and her companion so they can’t release the other Turtles. Yeah… that made sense. I suppose it was more important to make sure the master plan, taking over New York City, went off without a hitch (while leaving four hitches behind). Yes, you read that right, taking over New York City is the master plan. Later still, when O’Neil and her companion confront Sack in New York (to stop this great master plan), armed with a gun, Sacks keeps his distance and shoots uselessly at the shelves they are hiding behind… instead of just walking up to them and finishing them off. Yes, I know it’s a PG-13 film, but that is still no excuse for all the ridiculous plot holes. 


AV: (Sigh) Looks likely we’ll see at least two more of these films. Hey maybe we can get all the main pizza chains to sponsor the next installment. Don’t think so? If you go to Pizza, you can click on the homepage,and see “Donatello’s favorites” or “Raphael’s choice”. No, TMNT, No! 

TP: Well, they can always make more Turtles films, and with them ending the film hinting that Shredder may have introduced the mutagen into his system as he lay there giving his best road kill impression, I wouldn’t be surprised if we see the Turtles again. As it is with most films, the box office results will speak truth to power.

ARTH VADER rates Teenage Mutant Turtles: This movie, with its hideous, grotesque FX renderings of the turtle teens, is a film no one asked for.Yes, it has done more than $280 million in worldwide box-office that almost puts it in the black as product but this movie is such an obvious money grab, with gratuitous dialogue and an uninspired screenplay, I couldn’t enjoy this film even for a moment. While I’m aware it is not for me, I would be hard-pressed to know of anyone that got anything meaningful out of this thing. I give this travesty two (2) measly, radioactive Busted Blocks and hope to God this film crawls back down onto the sewer it crawled out of.

THE PONTIFICATOR rates Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: This was a fun film and I can certainly see the appeal of it to younger audiences or even adults that just want to suspend themselves in an ocean of “happenings,” but for me the gaping plot holes made it hard to digest. While it looked good, it could have looked better and could have been written better, thus only mutating five (5) busted blocks while leaving the rest in the sewer. 

Teenage Mutant Turtles: 3.5 / 10 Busted Blocks

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