The beloved cartoon "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" has had a few live-action adaptations in the past, but the 2014 version is the first to combine the crime-fighting turtles' story with modern CGI. When reporter April O'Neil meets the four iconic turtles, she soon discovers that they are aiming to take down the notorious Foot Clan wreaking havoc on New York City. The film may drift from its source material at times, but it features the same wise-cracking, adrenaline,loving mutant turtles that have become an integral part of many a childhood.
April O'Neil (Megan Fox) is a reporter for Channel 6 who wants nothing more than to do serious investigative reporting. Her cameraman Vernon Fenwick (Will Arnett) hears her out, but it soon becomes obvious that he has a romantic interest in the beautiful young reporter. Following an attack by the Foot Clan, a notorious gang that runs the city, April comes face to face with four giant turtles wearing masks and wielding Asian-style weaponry. She attempts to photograph them secretly, but they discover her and warn her not to let anyone know of their existence.
After her encounter, April has a shocking realization. She had four pet turtles in the lab where her father worked, and she had named them Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael and Michelangelo. She wonders if there may be some connection. Her father had been working with a man named Eric Sacks (William Fichtner), who turns out to be a disciple of Foot Clan leader Shredder (Tohoru Masamune). April's father had found out about an evil plan they had to poison New York City, so he set the lab on fire, killing himself in the process.
When April tries to get her boss (Whoopi Goldberg) to believe her story about four mutant ninja turtles who are fighting the Foot Clan, the boss is unwilling to believe the crazy tale. Nevertheless, April holds to her story. Meanwhile, Sacks discovers that the Turtles were a result of a mutagen connected to his evil plot. Shredder set out to capture the Turtles while the Turtles themselves set out to defeat Shredder and his minions.
Audiences looking for a nostalgic look back at their favorite cartoon may come away disappointed as "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" takes some creative license when it comes to the source material. For instance, the Turtles' connection to April is new. In addition, the Turtles get a completely revamped look as well as some new abilities. However, aside from some minor differences that may grate on dedicated fans' nerves, the film actually sticks pretty closely to the original stories, and the Turtles' attitudes and personalities are right in line with their previous incarnations.
Although the plot is somewhat spotty, the personality, visuals and action of this Michael Bay-produced film should keep fans eager for more. The CGI is spectacular, with incredible detail going into the physique, movements and individual differences among the four Turtles. Shredder is a knife-covered CG masterpiece who makes for a formidable foe, and the fights between him and the Turtles are some of the most exciting sequences in the film. Viewers looking for a deep plot may be disappointed, but those looking for a fun action flick with plenty of humor are sure to enjoy this take on the classic franchise.
The Turtles were created using motion-capture suits, but their voices bring them to life thanks to the work of some talented actors. Johnny Knoxville is fits perfectly as Leonardo, and Alan Ritchson gives character and depth to Raphael. Michelangelo is expertly portrayed by Noah Fisher while Jeremy Howard is excellent as Donatello. Fox may not convey a lot of emotion as April, but she does have some redeeming scenes. Fichtner is brilliant as always in his villainous role, and Arnett gives a great turn as the love-struck cameraman.
"Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" hit U.S. theaters on Aug. 11, 2014. It received an MPAA rating of PG-13 for its sci-fi action violence, so it may not be suitable for younger viewers. The film fits into the categories of action, adventure, comedy, sci-fi and fantasy. Dark but undoubtedly humorous and action-packed, this film has a lot to offer both for fans of the original series and for newcomers to the franchise.