It’s been seven years since the last Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie, aptly titled TMNT in order to distance itself from the trilogy that came decades before it. The new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film is more of a reboot and lies outside the realm of the previous universe, it’s produced by Transformers director Michael Bay (which the marketing for the film never shuts up about) and is directed by Wrath of the Titans director Jonathan Liebesman. With that combination you get a lot of action, some fun, but a general lack in character-depth and plot holes you can ignore if you’re just there to see the turtles and feel a bit nostalgic about the whole thing.
April O’Neill (Megan Fox) is an intrepid reporter the likes of Lois Lane. However, she has yet to catch her big break and her dreams are shattered more and more with every fluffy piece of news that she has to report. Her cameraman Vernon (Will Arnett) has to listen to a lot of her constant complaints with a light heart, since he’s crushing on her. Crime has increased over the years in New York City because of a group called the Foot Clan, run by the famous ninja turtles villain Shredder (Tohoru Masamune).
Living underneath the sewers of NYC, the ninja turtles–Donatello, Leonardo, Raphael, and Michelangelo (Jeremy Howard, Johnny Knoxville (voice of), Alan Ritchson, and Noel Fisher respectively)–are well, ninjas. Mutated and taught by their father and master Splinter (voice of Tony Shalhoub), they protect the city from the Foot Clan, but always without being seen. When April gets in contact with her father’s old lab partner, Eric Sachs (William Fichtner), events begin spiraling out of everyone’s control.
One of the things you can appreciate about the newest incarnation of the teenage mutant ninja turtles, is that it doesn’t try to take itself too seriously, unlike its direct predecessor. It still carries the bit of fun and spontaneity of the original cartoon, so what it lacks in plot or character development is made up for in entertainment value. It may not be the movie turtle fans were hoping for, but it doesn’t completely suck either, and that’s pretty much on par with the director/producer team who made it.
Also, outside of the audience already knowing that the turtles are mutated (if you can’t already tell, the giveaway is also in the title!) they link their mutation to April and her father, making it far more believable of how they come to be the way they are. And while Megan Fox is completely underutilized in other movies, she has enough of a presence here without being overbearing and too much of the useless damsel. Will Arnett is funny… sometimes. And William Fichtner as Eric Sachs is too much of the stereotypical bad guy to be taken too seriously.
One of the most disappointing aspects of the film is actually Shredder. He’s one of the turtles’ ultimate enemy and yet he’s reduced to a second-hand character whose armor looks like he walked straight out of a Transformers movie. He never really shreds anyone, but clomps around sheathing the several knives attached to his metal suit. He doesn’t get nearly as much screen time as Fichtner, making the plot veer towards a more business-orientated, suit-wearing fest that is underwhelming and doesn’t have quite the impact as it should.
Some plot points may be questionable, most will be raising their eyebrows at things during the movie, and the villains of the story are underwhelming at best, disappointing at worst. But if you’re there simply to see the ninja turtles, then you won’t be too disappointed, since they retain much of their personality and character traits that helped make the cartoon so popular. An average movie, with good moments sprinkled here and there and lots of nostalgia abound.