Movies You Should Be Watching: ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has been the surprise movie of the season. Was it outstanding? No. Did they innovate the children’s movie genre? Not really. But the movie managed to not suck, and that was a major victory.
I didn’t want to see the movie, but we’ve been making a habit of taking our small children to the movies whenever possible because a giant screen and tub of popcorn can calm the most rowdy of children. Entering the theater, I was prepared to hate the movie. From trailers I knew that these turtles had human nostrils and Megan Fox somehow won the role of April O’Neil, reason enough to project a few Razzie Award wins in the future. But in the end, I came out smiling.
I’ll preface my review with saying I was a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fan as a child, but pizza eating mutated turtles start to lose their luster once puberty hits. Still, I have fond memories of the turtles of my youth, and I didn’t want Megan Fox’s excessively pursed lips or Will Arnett’s skeezy old man humor to sully that.
The movie is a lot of what you would expect. It follows Fox’s O’Neil as she discovers these mutant vigilantes. There is a nefarious plot to take over the world. Michelangelo says “Cowabunga” and Raphael even adds his gruff spin to the term. This movie wins in how the origin story is given depth. The plot is balanced between reality and the ridiculousness that is the Ninja Turtles franchise. And the fight sequences are serious, not a string of gags and weak jokes. The biggest surprise of it all is that Megan Fox delivered the goods in her role. Though she was objectified gratuitously like we have come to expect of Michael Bay productions (i.e. the entire Transformers franchise), she was strong-willed and intelligent. Her character had dimension.
These weren’t the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles of my childhood. Leonardo had virtually no presence or personality – which was gravely disappointing. Donatello was hacking systems and a bit more nerdy than I remember him. Michelangelo had a hoverboard, epic beat boxing skills, and danced to Gwen Stefani’s “Hollaback Girl”. And Raphael managed to have even more angst. But, it was exactly the movie that it needed to be. It was lighthearted, comical, and entertaining for everyone in the theater, from age 2 to 92 (though the targeted demographic seems to be tweens).
So would I encourage everyone to run out and see it? No, I wouldn’t go that far. It wasn’t a memorable or transformative experience. But don’t feel like the cost of admission would be a waste either. For what it’s worth, watching Megan Fox transcend the hypersexuality that has plagued her career was a great experience even if she had to do it alongside Arnett. The movie is definitely worth the matinee price.
Check out the trailer below!
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