Friday, August 29, 2014

Moonlight Movie Reviews - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Is reviewing this one totally pointless yet?

This is gonna be really short, folks, but I have been meaning to post it forever, and I just haven't had any time to do it. So, yeah, maybe there aren't many left who want to see the new "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" film that haven't already, but, well, I saw it, so here's my review in a nutshell.

"Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" is a film based on a comic book about 4 turtles that have become mutated to the size of humans, trained in ninja arts by an equally mutated rat, and now that they're in their teens, are secretly running around New York stopping crimes perpetrated by an evil organization known as The Foot run by the mysterious Shredder. Also investigating the Foot Clan is a beautiful TV news reporter named April O'Neil, who discovers the turtles and works together with them to unravel the Shredder's secret plot against the city.

Sounds pretty legit, right? I mean, not unlike the Turtles we've all known and loved in prior films and several animated (and one live-action) TV shows. Incidentally, no, I have not seen all the TV shows, so I don't know how loyal any of those were to the first one, which I grew up watching as a casual afternoon viewer. Well, honestly, overall, this film isn't terribly unacceptable. Nope, it's not. It's actually a fun turtles film. The plot is generic, the characters take some getting used to, and I don't really feel Megan Fox is the most captivating leading lady. I'm not even talking about her looks, though admittedly, I have only really found her attractive in the first Transformers film (even in Jennifer's Body, I was more interested in Amanda Seyfried). I just mean that while she is serviceable  as the lead human in this film, I'd have to say... she just barely passes for me. Her sidekick is TV fave Will Arnett as cameraman Vernon Fenwick, and he's no Casey Jones, but he's good as usual. The CGI Turtles and the heavily armored Shredder almost feel like side characters in retrospect though. Even William Fichtner's devious character was more memorable than the Shredder. Granted, I saw this two or three weeks back. The CGI characters (and Shredder) are much like the rest of the film, adequate but not as memorable or endearing as the 90's film version. Luckily, the film is entertaining, full of great jokes and action, excellent effects and other Michael Bay popcorn movie stuff that many people love him for, and that many people hate him for. Myself, as with all movies, I like to enjoy it for the good while still making note of the bad. No film is totally bad. Well, maybe just a few. And even many excellent movies have flaws (I don't know if I want to say that no movie is perfect; there are a few that sure seem like it). As I said, I did enjoy this flick. But, there was something I took issue with more than anything else...

I really did not like the look of the Turtles! I hated their lips, I didn't like Donatello's uniquely designed face. I applaud the attempts to make each look different on a creative level, but really, they're not supposed to look different, so why do that? I thought these guys were pretty ugly and a bit too imposing. I got used to them though and maybe even learned to like them to some degree because of the fun factor of the film and the more likable aspects of their personalities, though, again, they didn't compare to the 90's versions. But, then there's Splinter. Oh, Splinter, our mutated ninja rat sensei. Splinter was HIDEOUS! He was HORRIFYING! He looked like a giant, diseased rat monster! And he didn't even talk with an accent. Or at least not much of one. He really made it hard to like this movie, and I hate to say that, because I love Tony Shalhoub!

As for April, as I said, she was serviceable. The yellow jacket was a nice touch, but can someone tell me why it's so hard to just do a live-action version of a comic or cartoon that is loyal to the source. I mean, what is the big deal with making April really look like April? Here's proof from "gotta include her on my crush of the week someday" cosplayer Ani-Mia that cartoon April works beautifully in the real world! Why do the movies HAVE to be so different? I'd pay to watch a Turtles film with this April for sure!

At any rate, I'll stick by what I said. The new movie is fun. It's entertaining. It's got cool visuals. I still prefer the old Turtles films though, and I'm still waiting for a film with an April like the one pictured above. Seriously. But I don't discourage anyone who generally enjoys the Ninja Turtles from seeing the film. The biggest problem was the way the CGI characters looked. It is simply a fun ride with characters you kinda have to push yourself to view as the same old friends we know and love. Not effortless viewing, but harmless and essentially enjoyable viewing.

Oh course, I enjoyed the film with a pizza of my own in-hand at the Alamo Drafthouse Village. Yep, there were fun clips before the film from things like the Ninja Turtles animated shows and video game, older films, commercials, openings for many Turtles knockoff shows, and more. Even that weird concert video and a weird appearance on Oprah!

Before, I end this up, I've been collecting action figures more and more lately, the 6-7 inch sizes usually, much larger than my preference as a kid, and I was a bit disappointed that the new film didn't have a proper 6 inch line. Just a bit disappointed, since I wasn't really dying for these guys on my shelf, and also because I discovered something better! Now on store shelves, 6 inch (or maybe 7, I haven't checked on that detail yet) action figures based on the 1990 film!

The only problem here is there is no April figure (or Splinter, or Shredder; though frankly, I'd prefer Turtles 2 April anyway). Regardless, I do hope to get this set sooner or later! And, who knows, maybe a second wave of more characters will eventually come along. Casey Jones would be cool to have too!

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