Nostalgia is a powerful thing, but aren’t we usually nostalgic for good things?
Or maybe “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” qualifies as a guilty pleasure for some. For the rest of us that equation falls far heavier on the “guilt” side than the “pleasure,” so the new live-action film about, well, you know, is not a cause for celebration.
The movie itself does nothing to change that, although it’s not exactly a disaster. It’s just kind of a mess, as unfocused and immature as the four mutant turtles at its core. Stuff happens, stuff blows up and this is probably a good time to mention that Michael Bay produced the film.
Jonathan Liebesman directed it, but Bay’s heavy hand is everywhere, particularly in the chaotic action scenes, but also in the often-ridiculous dialogue and story. And we haven’t even mentioned the prospect of Megan Fox playing a TV reporter stuck doing puff pieces who longs for a Real Story.
So, Megan Fox plays a TV reporter stuck doing puff pieces who longs for a Real Story.
You know, no matter how many times you type that sentence, it never seems like a good idea.
Fox’s character, April O’Neil, is actually what holds the story together. New York is in the grip of a crime wave led by Shredder (Tohoru Masamune) and his Foot Clan. April wants to get to the bottom of the story, which amuses Vernon (Will Arnett), her cameraman, and annoys her boss (Whoopi Goldberg, barely trying at all). One night she goes down alone to the docks, as one does, and sees the Foot Clan up to some kind of mischief or other. Then a shadowy figure comes from out of nowhere and fights off the bad guys.
But April still doesn’t have enough proof to go with the story, so when a panicked crowd runs out of the subway, she runs in, to see what the ruckus is. The Foot Clan is at it again, but this time four of these figures fight them off. April follows them and eventually meets Leonardo (Johnny Knoxville), Michelangelo (Noel Fisher), Raphael (Alan Ritchson) and Donatello (Jeremy Howard).
They are, of course, turtles. Teenage turtles. Mutants. “And we’re ninjas!”
They’ll get the order right eventually. There is an absurd coincidence that sets the rest of the story in motion, and serves as a bonding device between April and the turtles, as well as their mentor Splinter (Tony Shalhoub). William Fincher is on hand playing the type of character he usually plays, which is perhaps a spoiler, but really, you won’t be thinking about that very much when you’re watching the tractor-trailer slide down the snowy mountain hell-bent for leather, with bad guys in pursuit and a 500-foot drop just ahead.
Did we mention Michael Bay produced this?
There are some laughs, in truth. And as silly as that mountain action scene sounds — and is — it’s somewhat entertaining, on a ridiculous sort of level.
And yes, maybe this is too serious an evaluation of a film based on a TV show based on a comic that was a goof to begin with. “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” has somehow managed to stay in the popular culture for a couple of decades, so someone somewhere must be doing something right.
Just not these someones, not every often.
‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’
Rated: PG-13 for sci-fi action violence.