Tale as old as time… or at least as old as the 1980’s. That’s right, folks… the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are back yet again in this newest and explodingist manifestation.
So, yeah… like a lot of people, when I heard that this new version was coming our way courtesy of the only man who (allegedly) gets his jollies from watching explosions and slow motion 180 degree pans of tired sweaty people, Michael Bay… I was not happy. I’ve never been what you would call a “die-hard” fan of the turtles, but I do like them and was pretty sure that Bay was going turn my boys in green into a joke… or at least more of a joke of their former selves.
So, popcorn in hand and an uneasy feeling in my gut, I sat down and prepared to watch Mikey, Donnie, Raph and Leo get beaten with a baseball bat made of pure stupidity into a whole new dumbed down level of existence.
Strangely, though… it didn’t happen. While it’s not great, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is a decent action piece with some likeable characters and a pretty straightforward plot.
Yeah, I know this was not a movie actually directed by Michael Bay, but you can feel his sweaty clammy hands all over it. It looks like a Bay movie, it smells like a Bay movie… this is a Bay movie.
That being said, Bay movies are infamous for having unnecessarily complicated plots, Transformers: Age of Extinction being the latest and lamest example of it, but here… it’s actually pretty simple. The Shredder needs something to do something evil, the turtles have it, fights ensue, action ensues…. and the whole time I actually understood why things were happening. Not having to wade through a complicated plot needlessly flopped on people like a smothering blanket, was unusually refreshing.
The fact that the turtles were well characterized was only a plus as well. Not only do they retain the traits that we all know and love (Leo being the leader, Donnie being the brains, Mikey being the idiot, and Raphael being the jerk jock), but visually, they are more distinct than they have ever been. Sure, the actual design is a little ugly, but given that they are teenaged turtles who have been mutated by toxic waste, how attractive were you honestly expecting them to be?
As expected, though, the movie has problems… the biggest of which is that it is annoyingly over-directed as most things that the Bay touches is. The camera swings from turtle to turtle as though the operator is drunk, slow-motion explosions, product placement… everything about Bay movies that are annoying. Basically, if you hate the way Bay makes movies, you’re going to hate this movie as well because, even though it’s not an actual Bay movie, it has all of the irritating Hallmarks. Kind of like how Poltergeist isn’t really a Spielberg movie, but it has all of Spielberg’s fingerprints all over it? It’s like that, but with a terrible director.
But, that being said, I’m not stuck-up enough to deny that I actually enjoyed this reptilian reboot. It delivered what it promised, it wasn’t stuck too far up its own rear end, and the action that I saw was fun and original.
The downside to it all is that, despite the fact that I enjoyed Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, it wasn’t very memorable. I remember almost none of the minutia and details. Only the action and some of the funny stuff. This is the cinematic equivalent of Chinese food… it tastes good, you’ll feel like you never ate anything an hour later, but despite it all you should just be good and gosh darned grateful that it didn’t give you diarrhea.