In May of the year 1984, creators Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird released a little book called "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles," published by Mirage Studios. Three years later, a friend of mine told me about these characters, and finding them interesting, he let me read the first issues, and I was impressed with these little-known, independent characters. Shortly after, the first television series was released, and the turtles became an instant phenomenon. From there, the first films were released and the turtles seemed invincible. Throughout the years following, the turtles went through some ups and downs, having the comic books published by various companies, and they had various television shows, both live-action and animated. Now in 2014, the turtles have another successful animated series on Nickelodeon and the comic books being published from IDW are well written and have fresh, new stories to tell. The turtles are back, so why not have a new film as well?
When the teaser trailer was released for this new turtles movie, there were mixed reactions to it. I'm guilty of not wanting to watch this new film, and the whole look and feel for the film seemed off. By the time the second trailer was released, the film drew me in, and despite not wanting to see it, I gave in and watched it on the second weekend of its release. Going in with an open mind, not wanting to compare these new 2014 turtles to the turtles of the 80's and 90's, I went into the movie theater with excitement, and I wanted to have fun watching this film. Nothing more, nothing less, I wanted to judge it for entertainment value. You also have to remember that the original turtles (comic books, movies, and television series), didn't have the technology that we have today. In the original turtles show, there was no internet, there were no smart phones, tablets, or MP3 players, Walkman's and VHS tapes were the "in" thing. So these turtles are different, for this day and age, so naturally they have to look and act different, but their personalities can remain the same.
The film itself has its good and bad moments, there are a lot of plot holes that were left unexplained. Plot wise, this movie is weak. The origin of the turtles is very similar to the current IDW series, but the difference is Splinter isn't (or wasn't ever) Hamato Yoshi. The history that Hamato Yoshi and Oroku Saki (the Shredder) have doesn't apply to this film, and this leaves the question open, "So why does the Shredder want to kill Splinter and the turtles that badly?" Karai, known as the Shredder's grand-daughter in the comics and Splinter's daughter in the new 2012 animated series, is in the film also, but her character falls flat, because she's never identified as such, so the audience doesn't really care for her. Splinter looks very CGI, and he has a very different character design, but in ways this works, because during some fight scenes, he's able to use his tail; something that wasn't an option in the earlier live-action films. The turtles have a different design that we're not used to seeing, but after awhile, their new look doesn't affect their appearances in the film. The Shredder's armor looks awesome, albeit overdone, but in the film it's stated that it has an upgrade. If the armor has an upgrade, it would've been nice to see the original suit, and this follows what I've mentioned before about plot holes.
April O'Neil, as performed by Megan Fox, not bad. This is an actress that's had a bad reputation in the past, and I wasn't sure how she'd do as April, but she did great. She showed how strong April is as a character, and we see that she'd stop at nothing to get her story, no matter if her life is at risk. Vernon Fenwick, as performed by Will Arnett, was kind of a nerdy character, but he's always there for April, so it's good to see that someone's got her back. The Foot Clan were much different than their previous interpretations, because they used guns and had no form of Ninjutsu or any other kind of fighting skills, and that's what they're known for. All they did was shoot at people and the turtles. Yeah...Okay. The fight scenes were great. The Shredder is finally shown as a tough opponent, and his movements are fast. Finally, in a live action turtles movie, the Shredder is given justice as the main villain, and we see how great of a warrior he really is. People do die in this film, and it's debatable to classify this as a kid-friendly film, but it's definitely not a film suited for small children.
Overall, the plot is weak, where the villain wants to infect the people in the city with a toxin, then his partner comes in with an antidote that will heal the people, and he makes bank with his antidote. The origins are similar to the IDW comic book series, where April O'Neil names Splinter and the turtles, the difference being is that April is a little girl when she names them in this film. Splinter learning the art of Ninjutsu from a book he finds in the sewer makes us realize how intelligent he has become. Seeing the turtles as "kids" was fun to watch, seeing how troublesome and irresponsible they used to be. Shredder's origin wasn't really there like it was told in previous interpretations. The action scenes were fun, exciting, and entertaining, the filmmakers did a great job with these scenes. The personalities of each turtle were spot-on, and in this film it's Michelangelo who has a crush on April, and the chemistry between these two characters were fun to watch. The elevator scene was hilarious to watch, and that's all I will say about this. True fans of this series (comics, movies, and animated shows), may enjoy this film, but some fans have standards that might not be met here. My opinion is this, if you love the turtles, give this film a look-see, as a film, not comparing it to previous interpretations, because it IS entertaining. Go in with a positive attitude, don't do comparisons, go to have fun, and be prepared for some awesome fight scenes. Keep in mind that these are the 2014 turtles, not the 80's or 90's turtles, with that in mind, prepare for a new look for the characters in the film. I rate this film a 3 out of 5 stars. I'm big on plot when it comes to films, not special effects or anything else, and this film isn't bad, it's just not great. A sequel has been mentioned, and now that the origins have been told, maybe the second film will focus more on plot and not on trying to set things up, but only time will tell.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014 film) is directed by Jonathan Liebesman, produced by Michael Bay, Andrew Form, Bradley Fuller, Galen Walker, Scott Mednick, and Ian Bryce, screenplay by Josh Appelbaum, André Nemec, and Evan Daugherty. Based on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles by Peter Laird and Kevin Eastman. Production company is Nickelodeon Movies and Platinum Dunes. Distributed by Paramount Pictures.