Mention the term ‘reboot’ in some quieter circles of the internet and you’re liable for a pasting. The slightest hint that an older story is being retold causes people to lose their freaking minds. Mild mannered 30-somethings start proclaiming that their childhoods are being violated as if under an attack from a Viking horde, which of course is utter nonsense. So … Director Jonathan Liebesman has remade Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and guess what?! It’s actually a fun action film, possibly even better than the 1990 version and, judging by the screaming nine year olds who were in my cinema, the only audience that matters seem to agree. This may not be the definitive Ninja Turtles experience, but it’s far from the worst thing that has had the Turtles name slapped on it over the years.
So New York City is under threat from the evil Foot Clan, a gang of ragamuffins who are running amuck, untouched by authorities. Luckily, the dogged April O’Neil (Megan Fox) is hot on their heels, in search of the big news story that will finally make her a legitimate reporter. One fateful evening, Ms O'Neil witnesses the Foot Clan in action and the efforts of four vigilantes who are prepared to fight back on behalf of the city. This leads April to discover who the vigilantes are and uncover secrets about her own past. The vigilantes are four ninja Turtles who, whilst young and brash, must unite for their greater challenge in the form of an old foe returning to wreak havoc on the city: the infamous Shredder.
This film has a tonne of issues which I could easily needle away at. For instance, the story is paint-by-numbers, the graphics are choppy and it all felt a tad rushed, but despite these flaws it still won me over. This may have been because my expectations were set so low and possibly because I’ve had zero to do with the franchise for the past fifteen years. But maybe that’s the trick when it comes to these major releases; maybe we all need to just stop being so nostalgically invested and we’ll possibly enjoy ourselves again. It’s a move for kids. Teenage. Mutant. Ninja. Turtles. Read that ridiculous series of adjectives back again. If you’re looking for character depth and plot development from the kids genre, I suggest it’s time you pick up a book or think about graduating to a different kind of cinema. As a superhero film, it’s on par with Sam Raimi’s Spiderman
: not exactly ground-breaking but it gets the job done.
In terms of the performances, the biggest shock coming out of this film was Megan Fox as April O’Neil, who up until this point in her career has only ever been paraded about in skimpy clothes, leaning suggestively over things. She’s not going to steal any roles from Meryl Streep any time soon, but she did well given the material. Will Arnett plays Vernon Fenwick, who is essentially April O’Neil’s sidekick and is around primarily for comic relief, and a half-baked plotline of him having a crush on O’Neil. William Fichtner, as Eric Sacks, turns in yet another solid showing. The man has an uncanny ability to bring gravitas to even the most silly of situations; just the kind of performance this role was crying out for. The Turtles themselves are voiced by Johnny Knoxville (Leonardo), Alan Ritchson (Raphael), Jeremy Howard (Donatello) and Noel Fisher (Michelangelo). Whilst they are distinct from one another, there isn’t a lot for either performer to do and honestly they get lost in all the CGI wizardry.
This film may not be every fan’s cup of tea, but it does at least capture the spirit of adventure that makes the Ninja Turtles such an endearing franchise. Whilst I wish that studios could make films which both capture the hearts of fresh young audiences as well as gratify the cynical peter-pan fanboys, the reality is it’s difficult to satisfy both camps. Give this film a chance and you may be surprised how much you actually enjoy yourself, and if not … just wait til the next reboot comes around the bend.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles opens in cinemas Thursday the 11th of September.
If you see the film and agree or disagree with my thoughts feel free to launch your hate mail below or come over to our Facebook page and tell me how wrong I am.
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