I grew up with the TMNT. I had nearly every toy made. I even had a couple of costumes. I was excited when I was 8 years old that they were making a live action movie. I got to say, from an 8 year old’s perspective it didn’t disappoint. I had a mix of emotions when I was going to see the 2014 not so “live” action movie. Early on there was talk that the Turtles would be from outer space and other horrible rumors. Because of this my biggest emotion was fear, fear that producers would ruin one of my childhood favorites. (some spoilers ahead)
The movie begins with a really cool comic book feel during the opening credits. We then jump right into the story. It is the same old Turtle story, The Foot Clan is terrorising New York, lead by the ruthless Shredder. April O’Neil (Megan Fox) is not a hard-hitting reporter in this version, but she wants to be, BAD! She is trying to get information about the latest crime from a dock worker when she is reminded by her camera man Vernon Fenwick (Will Arnett) that they have to go into the city and do a piece on trampoline bird exercises.
The back story of April is a lot different in this version. It is a little odd and awkward. I kind of liked it, but they should have cleaned it up a little bit. There was too much “thinking out loud” to get April to come to the conclusion that the Turtles were her childhood pets/her dad’s lab experiment.
I actually enjoyed the new CGI Turtles. They were able to do a lot of things that actors in rubber suits couldn’t do. It was done well enough that once you get lost in the story you don’t even realize that they are CGI. The plot itself is so over predictable it actually gets a little boring in spots. The action scenes for the most part are shot really well, but they too drag on a bit.
One of the common themes amongst the entire Turtles franchise that this movie stays true to, is that Raphael is the only Turtle with any glimpse at character development. He is always the outsider and seems bitter because he is not the leader. It is evident from the cartoons and even from the original films that Raph is the stronger fighter of the brothers, and this movie makes no bones about continuing that distinction. Raph is the biggest, strongest, and roughest of all the brothers. However, this physical strength is just the tip of the iceberg for Raph. His real strength is actually drawn from what he views as a weakness. Let me explain…
The apostle Paul once wrote to the Christians in Corinth about how “power is perfected in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9). His point there was that the weaker he was, the more he needed to rely on Jesus. The more he relied on Jesus, the stronger he actually became. Something for all of us to remember. With Raphael, as he spills his heart to his brothers near the end of the film, a scene which was surprisingly resonating, he explains that all his threats to leave and go on his own were only because he didn’t think he was good enough to be with them. He pushed them away so as not to expose his perceived weaknesses by comparison. In reality, it was all four brothers coming together as a team, and as a family, which made them each stronger. They lifted each other up and gave each other strength. As Christians, Jesus lifts us up and gives us his strength.
I enjoyed the vintage references of “Cowabunga” and skateboards. They all keep their traditional personalities, especially Michaelangelo. There are also great Pizza Hut commercials placed throughout the film which is typical of these types of films. Just like a pizza can be a little shallow or pretty deep in its toppings, a movie can be either shallow or deep in many regards. When it comes to TMNT, I think there are some aspects of the family element that are a little deeper than you might initially give it credit for.
In once scene, Splinter is dueling Shredder and is beginning to lose the fight. Splinter lowers a few gates to cut himself off from the turtles so they don’t interfere and get hurt themselves. As he’s doing this, Michaelangelo and Donatello call out to him, “Master!”, “Sensei!”. Leonardo does as well, but then as he becomes more frantic in trying to reach Splinter, he calls him “Dad!”. Chew your popcorn at the right moment and you might not hear it. It seems like a very small thing, but I think it speaks volumes about the depth of their relationship. Leo sees splinter as not just his master, or his sensei, but as his dad. To be fair, it’s likely that all the turtles viewed him this way, but Leo puts a voice to it. There’s a lot to be said for Leo being the leader of the turtles and having this connection with Splinter. I thought it was a nice touch at this moment in the film which gave us just a very quick touch of some depth to this family.
I was impressed that they kept the language down. It almost seemed forced when they did curse and it was only towards the end that I caught it. The movie is rated PG13 and I would that is a pretty fair rating,I would use caution taking a kid under 10.
I give this movie a rating of 3/5