Again...too much popcorn. I do this to myself almost every time my wife and I go to the movies. The taste of those light, buttery kernels are as close to heaven as we're going to get right now, I think. Plus, it helps when you have $5 in concession gift cards you pretty much got for free. For your reading enjoyment, here is a wonderful human being who I resembled in the late stages of my "night at the movies" festivities.
What are we talking about? Oh yeah...Teenage...Mutant...Ninja...Turtles. Anyone from my generation understands the lore of TMNT, specifically because these pizza-eating, little hulk-type creatures originated in, the one and only, Dover, New Hampshire. I remember spending hours upon hours playing the SNES (Super Nintendo Entertainment System for any of you too cool for vintage video game systems) TMNT video game. The premise was simple: fight all the foot clan and get to a big boss battle at the end of every level. These were the kinds of video games that caught my ADD-distracted attention and kept it for an abnormally long amounts of time when I was a child. The golden years of video gaming, if you will.
But a new TMNT wave has been upon us for a few weeks now--one that blends the mega-diva look of Megan Fox, the BOOM and POW of a Michael Bay production, and unfortunately, another lackluster glimpse at Shredder. Why is Shredder so difficult to get right? We'll get there, but first of all, it's amazing that a non-Marvel, non-DC comic brand such as "Mirage Comics" has done so well since 1984, especially since Marvel/DC has continually ruled the film, comics, and merchandise superhero worlds for the past however long. When you think of the "greatest of all time" superheroes and comic books, you may not instinctively think of TMNT, but they are profound, nonetheless, in American Comic lore. There have been mergers and adaptations that have not always worked, but over the long haul, TMNT has weathered the storm of criticism and poorly made cartoons and, that alone, allows for a golf clap.
In this 2014 reboot, however, there is not much variation from Michael Bay's other movies, meaning if you've seen Transformers, you've seen everything you need to know about Mr. Bay. There's a lot of high-tech machinery, some science fiction-y type of conflict, and a lot of explosions. TMNT is no different. For the most part, the '14 reboot is lightyears better than films before its time, but shouldn't filmmakers be striving for a bit more than "good enough"? I think so. Regardless, going into the movie, I had a few very big concerns:
1) I feared that the turtles themselves would be nothing but miniature versions of the "Incredible Hulk".
2) Megan Fox would absolutely butcher the role of April O'Neil, and
3) Shredder would look and act like just another Michael Bay Transformer.
I was correct about 2 out of 3 of my assumptions, but even then, I feel like the movie was a success. Let me explain:
#1 The turtles were mini-hulks, but what else were they going to be? Being mutant and ninjas can only mean a couple of things: large muscles and gigantic green skin. It wasn't a problem at all, considering the overall plot, but it didn't add to the mystique of the turtle "legend" in the movie, either. In fact, Michael Bay completely ignored that, altogether. Instead, he decided to make them (and Splinter) into science experiments performed by April O'Neil's father. He focused a lot of time and camera work to make this happen, which speaking strictly about the movie's plot, it worked.
Besides, it's definitely better than watching this again. Am I right?
#2 **SPOILER IN THIS SENTENCE**: Megan Fox was great, minus a few obviously cheesy screams (see RAPHAELLLL!!!!!! just after the turtles are captured and Raphael is fighting Shredder 1 vs. 1), but she managed to capture the stubborn, persistent, but playful side of April that makes her the turtles' main squeeze, and does it well, in fact. She doesn't try to be witty, nor humorous, and sticks to the script while letting the other characters take on those important traits, so touchee, Megan Fox, I'm glad we can finally bask in at least one of your film undertakings. Plus, I'm glad there was no cheesy romantic scintillation anywhere in this. Will Arnett might have wanted it, but you and Michael Bay shot that down pretty quickly.
And yet, you went with this guy in Transformers...
Could he look any creepier? Seriously Labeouf, stop going all John Mayer on us, please.
#3 And, finally, WHY IS IT SO HARD TO CAPTURE THE ESSENCE OF SHREDDER?!? Don't ask me. He is one of the most badass villains ever created and yet, we can't even enjoy the fruits of the TMNT world without film gurus, directors, and producers absolutely butchering Shredder's sulky, furious personality. Let me give you a hint: just because Shredder doesn't exactly talk much, it doesn't mean he doesn't have a personality. YES! He has an awesome, devilish personality that is a plight of its own. Instead, he is consistently characterized as a silent, broody type that allows his "foot soldiers" to do his dirty work.
Now, I will say that this reboot FINALLY captures Shredder as the ultimate karate guru, as witnessed in the scenes when he absolutely tools on the turtles, but I'm sorry, that is not enough to allow me to give the movie credit. Take away the "Transformer" suit and Shredder is just another "sensai". If you're thinking about going to see the movie just for him, think again. It's not worth it, friends.
But overall, this movie was a surprisingly funny 2 hours of super enjoyable production. There is plenty of action, suspense, and laugh out loud moments. Besides Spiderman, there are not many superheroes that can attract ages 8+ and do it well, but TMNT absolutely falls under this realm.
Here's my rating: 4/5 - entertaining, but could have done more with Shredder's badassery and April's stubborn...ery.
As always, I end with something you'd never guess--a dog wearing a wig. Your dreams have come true...I know.
Until next time,