Sunday, January 17, 2016

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles; fantasy action comedy, USA, 2014; D: Jonathan Liebesman, S: Alan Ritchson (voice), Noel Fisher (voice), Johnny Knoxville (voice), Jeremy Howard (voice), Megan Fox, Will Arnett, William Fichtner, Tohoru Masamune, Whoopi Goldberg, Tony Shalhoub (voice)

New York. While investigating about the activities of the criminal Foot Clan, reporter April O'Neill stumbles upon four humanoid teenage ninja turtles: Raphael, Michelangelo, Donatello and Leonardo. They mutated into their form after O'Neill's father destroyed his laboratory, realising his experiments about mutations would be misued by Mr. Sacks and Shredder. The Foot Clan attacks and kidnaps the three turtles to extract their mutagen and use it as a poison gas, which would enable them to ear a lot of money by cleaning it later up. However, April and Raphael save the turtles. In the showdown on the roof of a building, the poison is stopped while Shredder falls from the building.

Those who complained at Barron's original live action '90 film, should watch the 2014 "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" and realise what a real weak Turtles film would have looked like. The first 15 minutes are actually quite well made, as only April O'Neill (Megan Fox in a good performance) is seen investigating the criminal activity of the Foot Clan, which conjures up a slight sense of mystery and anticipation, but as soon as the Turtles show up, slide down the sever - and one of them farts - it all goes downhill from there. The whole film is one giant action sequence - which would not have been a problem if it was as inventive or as brilliantly choreographed as a J. Woo film - which are the predictable 'over-the-top' stuff with little spirit or wit.

Also, the design of the Turtles themselves is misguided: they look intimidating, extreme, like Turtles on steroids; a blend of Schwarzenegger and the Orcs from "The Lord of the Rings". The '90 film tried to be so unobtrusive, casual and down-to-earth, it was as if it shared our world, and you could almost imagine that a Turtle might enter your living room. Here, you know everything in this world is exggerated and fake, and thus impossible. In the entire film, there are only two good jokes. One is the post-credit scene of the two Turtles "camouflaging" themselves as a bra cup on a poster. But in the sole film, it takes a while, yet then a minute of greatness shows up: while the four Turtles are in an elevator, waiting, the monotone "blip" sounds of each storey is heard - and spontaneously, Michelangelo starts drumming in tune to it, and creates music out of it, while the three other Turtles join him. It is so full of life, charm and wit, you realise it is their finest hour - and that this is the entire dimension of the good part of the film. The cinematography, visual effects, editing, etc., everything technical is done perfectly - but they deliver a product as bland and forgettable as a glass of water. Barron and the original '90 "Ninja Turtles" can sleep safely with this remake: they are still the unreachable ideal.


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