Thursday 30 October 2014

Movie Review - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have passed the glory days; nobody could get enough of them in the 1990s, but these days they only continue to be in the public eye with the reasonably popular CGI animated series. Being absent from film since 2007's weak TMNT, the turtles have come back in a standard Hollywood reboot - but one that doesn't really do them justice.

Journalist April O'Neil (Megan Fox) desperately tries to get her voice heard when she claims a group of vigilantes are secretly fighting off the Foot Clan, a gang of criminals hell bent on ruling New York City, lead by the tyrannical Shredder (Tohoru Masamune). Her tenacious efforts soon expose these mysterious vigilantes: four humanoid turtles dubbed Leonardo (Johnny Knoxville), Raphael (Alan Ritchson), Michelangelo (Noel Fisher) and Donatello (Jeremy Howard). Lead by their loyal master Splinter (Danny Woodburn), they are tasked with fending off Shredder and his allies as they attempt to take over the city, and O'Neil discovers her relationship with them is far more complex than she initially thought.

Using motion capturing techniques, the turtles themselves are brought to life exceptionally; as expected from a high budget Hollywood blockbuster, the effects are top notch. The motion capture translates to extremely polished believable animation, and the voice work from the talented cast is just as good. The casting of Knoxville was met with mixed reactions, and while Leonardo is missing his characteristics as a brave leader, Knoxville still manages to deliver a great voice with his limited material. Ritchson, Fisher and Howard give it their all, and even Megan Fox is decent despite being terribly miscast.

But the script here is extremely weak, lacking a coherent structure, and pitting the turtles against incredibly poor villains - yes, the Shredders depiction really sucks. This in turn makes the few plot twists lose any of their desired impact and limits the space for character development. The movie never takes itself too seriously but at the same time never really tries to adopt an emotional focus to its story. The action scenes dazzle as always, and its humour is approachable to wide audiences, but in the end Ninja Turtles is just a mediocre experience; there's fun to be had, but not much else.