Well they have done it again! First Transformers, then GI Joe and now the Turtle’s. I am frantically trying to accrue the rights to M.A.S.K ,Thundercats and the Atari 2600 before another piece of my childhood is run into the ground. The worst part is not that it is bad, it’s that it is so bland. The film manages to simultaneously avoid being a straight up good film or the so bad it’s good category. Despite this, the film has made a killing at the box office and a sequel has already been green lit.
How director Jonathan Liebesman has managed to take such distinctive and interesting characters and strip them of any and all personality is borderline impressive. Those who grew up with the cartoon will fondly remember Leonardo (leader), Donatello (scientist), Raphael (cool but crude) and Michelangelo (is a party dude) but will be surprised to learn that they have been replaced with Leonardo who now voiced by a man that oozes zen like leadership….Johnny Knoxville who I assume mistakenly walked by the booth that was recording Michelangelo’s dialogue and wasn’t discovered until it was too late. Donatello, who now wears glasses to show how smart he instead of the inventions his cartoon counterpart was known for. Raphael has been stripped of any defining character traits and Michelangelo has morphed into an annoying $ex predator who makes uncomfortable references to his “shell hardening” while looking over an unconscious Megan Fox.
I am unsure if Fox ever recovers from her early encounter with the heroes is a half shell and perhaps a concussion would go some way to explain why her “acting” involves repeating the thing she has just been told, to herself in a low whisper. It is as if the character is so stupid she cannot process what she has been told unless she says it out loud. At one point the bad guy flat out tells her that he is the villain of the piece, which prompts Fox to pause and try to process this information before finally coming to the conclusion “it was you”. HE JUST TOLD YOU IT WAS HIM!!!! You are supposed to be an investigative reporter woman. The reason for the casting of Fox is summed up in one scene where she is hanging out the window of a van, while the camera leers at her displaying her most valuable……..asset.
The action scenes are from the Bourne school of just keep shaking the camera so the audience will be too distracted by their headaches to complain that they can’t see anything. Producer Michael Bay has responded to criticism by saying that the film is “for teenage boys” but this doesn’t excuse such a bland take on what is, I admit, a ridiculously high concept. Guardians of the Galaxy has already shown that movies aimed at younger audiences don’t have to be an incoherent mess in order to make money. Hell, even the 2007 Turtles animated movie showed how much excitement and drama you could get from the characters, the conflict between Raphael and Leonardo being particularly well done. It’s too dark for kids and too far removed from the source material for older fans like myself.
Shredder has been replaced with some sort of chrome cross between Iron Man, Wolverine and the kitchen knife drawer. His conflict and hatred of Splinter is never addressed as the two of them have seemingly never met before and have no reason to have animosity to each other. The never ending supply of Foot Clan soldiers is never explained as they are able to terrorise the city for years in broad daylight without any repercussions. The Turtles themselves have that creepy Polar Express dead eye look to them.
And just when you think it can’t get any worse, the end credit plays the theme song “Shell Shocked”, which makes you long for the days of Vanilla Ice. In fact the one positive from this film is that it has managed to make the original live action movie appear far better than it actually was. In the words of another Will Arnett character “you made a huge mistake”.