There isn't enough liquor in the world

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014)

01

Changing gears this week, we bring to you a shitfest of epic proportions.   Which isn’t altogether inappropriate for this site, because really, what’s more horrifying than watching your childhood flushed down the toilet?  Grab your nunchaku and put in the call to Pizza Hut—‘cause HH is about to get a dose of overproduced, Hollywood schlock under the guise of turtle power.

Sweaty’s Stats

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Action: SMASH BOOM CRASH SCREAM WHOO CRUNCH

Writing: *weeps uncontrollably*

Desgin: horrifying; headed right into the uncanny valley and never came back

Bottom line: the suck ratio on this one is astronomically high.  Kids might like it, but hardcore fans are going to find a lot of problems with this movie.

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Summary

Those who know me know that I am a hardcore TMNT fan from the beginning to the end.  I own most of the comics all the way from the original Mirage run to the modern IDW books, I’ve watched every episode of all three cartoons more than once, and I’ve seen the first movie enough times to quote it.  I’ve been to comic-con panels and drunken movie screenings; I have figurines and posters decorating my walls, and I regularly chat with other fans online regarding the property.  Yes, I’m a dork.

I say this because most people’s understanding of the turtles comes from the old, goofy cartoon; but there is legacy with this property that has spanned through generations and iterations, known only to those of us who have kept on with it through the years.  There are plenty of causal fans who remember it nostalgically and will go to this movie expecting very little—those are the people who will excuse the many, many flaws of this movie because “it’s just a dumb movie about giant turtles,” instead of realizing that yes, you can actually create a compelling, exciting, heartfelt story revolving around ridiculous, fantastic characters.

02

For instance, talking raccoons and giant tree men.

That said: no one involved in the making of this movie gave a shit.  First off, I hope you guys watching this flick are big Megan Fox fans, because the Fox to turtle ratio of this film is about 20:1.  And I really hope you’re not here to see any goddamn amount of martial arts, because BayLiebesman just effectively erased the “ninja” from ninja turtles.  Considering that they enlisted every damn martial arts-proficient stunt person in Hollywood for this movie, that fact alone is almost criminal.

With re-writes, re-shoots, and re-casts, this movie has been plagued by trouble from the start.  Brought to life by three screenwriters and no less than ten producers and executive producers, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that there were far too many cooks dipping their sticks in this shitpot.  Much like the over-stylized designs of the titular characters, you get the impression throughout that this movie was over-produced.  There is nothing—nothing–that isn’t cranked all the way to eleven in this film.

03

Emphasis on the crank.

We begin with some generic moving of boxes at the docks, as bad guys are wont to do.  These bad guys though?  Not ninjas.  Nope, fuck that noise.  Because in this movie about anthropomorphic talking turtle-men, having a gang of shadowy assassins just isn’t realistic enough.

04

Cue the, “b-b-but Bay just PRODUCED this turd” crowd. As if this movie didn’t have his stink all over it.

So, the Foot Clan is now a paramilitary force, wearing weird plastic masks and wielding guns.  They are for some reason terrorizing the city, though it’s unclear exactly why.  Because: evil, I guess.  Megan Fox, plucky little reporter that she’s trying to be, moves the plot along by inevitably getting herself involved in a hostage situation with the Foot.  When Karai, single deadliest kunoichi (female ninja) of the TMNT universe notices that Fox is taking pics of them, she … pulls a gun on her.  Sigh.

Enter our heroes, finally making their first real appearance twenty minutes into the goddamn film.  They save the day, Megan Fox follows them, and we finally get a little bit of turtle banter.  And even though she recognizes them as the pets she once had, her name doesn’t ring a bell to them even though they still go by the names that she named them.  Because Splinter told them that it was a great spirit who rescued them, effectively deifying the already magnified character of April O’Neil, catapulting her into a role even more important than the title characters themselves.  Siiiigh.

The turtles return home and get their asses beat by Splinter, who I hope you’re not expecting to be the kind, fatherly figure he’s always been in every freaking iteration of the turtles, because now he’s just kind of an asshole.  An asshole voiced by the guy from Monk.

05

And he fights about as well as him, too.

If you’ve been on the internet in the last few months, then you know everyone freaked out that Shredder was a white guy (William Fichtner); to fix this, they shoehorned in a shadowed figure to be Shredder instead.  Except most of the movie was already shot, so it doesn’t make any damn sense in the context of the actual film.  Eric Sacks (and yes, that’s what they actually named him) is the public figure schmoozing, shaking hands, paying off the cops and pretty much being Shredder from the 2k3 cartoon series.  Except that he isn’t, which makes his role completely useless.  And Karai is in there too, uselessly standing by in the action scenes while her men get pummeled by giant turtles.

06

Pictured: another interesting character set aside for The April O’Neil: the Movie.

Meanwhile, Megan Fox pays a visit to Sacks for her scoop, because Sacks worked in a laboratory with her dad back in the day, experimenting on her turtles.  What follows is a convoluted, totally unnecessary backstory involving the turtles, Splinter, Shredder, Sacks, the O’Neils, probably someone’s grandma … I don’t know.  It’s a mess.  And none of it explains why the Shredder has any sort of beef with the turtles; really he just wants to get rid of them because they beat up some of his Foot soldiers.  Which erases pretty much the biggest part of ninja turtle lore.  Oh and Sacks is like, the adopted son of the Shredder now, or something.  I don’t know.  At this point I couldn’t get enough alcohol in my body.

07

Pictured: my nemesis.

So just to recap: the turtles are the pets of the girl who’s the daughter of the guy who was friend-turned-enemy of the guy who was the son of the Shredder. So, the Shredder has this blood vendetta against his adopted son’s rival’s daughter’s pets, for some reason.  Yup.  Three screenwriters, people.

Moving on.  Sacks says he and Mr. O’Neil were working to create a cure for a … possible chemical attack on the city?  Because there was some legend in Japan where that same thing happened?  Okay, look.  The point is, they made mutagen.  Unfortunately it was all destroyed when Mr. O’Neil set fire to the lab, which killed him and … almost killed his daughter too, since she was in the lab at the time.  Siiiiiiiiiiiiiiigh.

Knowing that giant turtles full of mutagen blood are walking around the city, Shredder and Sacks start hunting them down, because they need that mutagen to carry out their own chemical attack on the city.  The only explanation for which being that they can then sell a cure for it afterwards.  Even though Sacks is beyond rich to begin with and the Foot already have immunity from the cops and can terrorize the city freely, and … okay you know what?  I’m not going to try and make sense of this plot anymore.

We get a flashback of the turtles being raised by Splinter, and the scene is actually pretty cool.  Watching Splinter tend to infant turtles is beyond cute, and the kid turtles are far less creepy than their adult counterparts.  Then the whole thing shits the bed by showing that Splinter just found a fucking book on karate in the sewers and learned to be a ninja master from it.  Because no one working on this film has the slightest inkling of how martial arts works.

Splinter then gives us this whole exposition on who Sacks really is and then tells them about the Shredder, which also doesn’t make any goddamn sense that he would know anything about any of it, since the morons making this film erased the whole Splinter/Shredder rivalry, and … oh god, I’m doing it again.  There is not enough alcohol in the world to get me through this review.

08

The Foot conveniently track Megan Fox right to the turtles’ lair, where, now fifty minutes into the movie, we get our first real battle scene.  The movie attempts at an epic fight between Shredder and Splinter here, but Edward Shredderhands is so absolutely ridiculous looking in that armor, it’s mindboggling that anyone thought it was the least bit menacing.  Not only is the entire thing covered in blades, he can shoot the blades from his arms now, and … the blades return to him like boomerangs.

09

Even the goddamn cartoons make more sense than this movie.

The turtles get captured, Sacks gives his bad guy diatribe on how they plan to poison the city (because don’t kid yourself—he’s the villain of this movie).  Raphael and Megan Fox, having escaped capture, enlist the help of Vernon because I guess he’s the only one with a car in this film, and they all trot off the rescue the others.  A long action sequence finally follows, but it’s rife with issues.

Now look: I’m a gal who LOVES action.  I adore war movies, gangster flicks, car chases—anything with a huge, well-choreographed, Braveheart-esque hack-and-slash battle just makes my nipples into diamonds.  That said, the action sequences in this film are fucking stupid.  It’s bad enough they took the “ninja” out of ninja turtles, but there is nothing redeeming in how the action scenes are shot.  Much like Transformers, everything is a fast cut; you can’t focus on anything long enough to enjoy it.  Plus, it’s like the makers of this film just decided to say fuck it entirely to the laws of physics, which is really goddamn confusing considering that they think the Foot Clan being ninjas is to “unrealistic.”  I mean, I can suspend disbelief for something if it works.  If the action is compelling, it doesn’t have to play by the rules.  But a turtle can’t bust out from the side of a van like it’s goddamn paper, come on.

Raphael Hulk-smashes his way through to rescuing his bros, where the Shredder shows up for no reason, and he just … steps on Raph’s back and walks away.  Meanwhile Megan Fox pushes some random buttons that overdose the rest of the turtles on adrenaline, which saves them and ‘roids them out, so bonus, I guess?  Anyhoo, an all-out brawl ensues between gun-toting Foot and turtles, and boy are the turtles in for it, because you can’t fight against bullets and—wait, no.  No, it turns out they can, because they’re naturally bulletproof.  Their goddamn turtle shells repel bullets.

10

Lots of smashing and exploding happens, with rocket launchers and guns and big trucks because this is really just Bayformers with turtles in it.  After escaping the Foot, our heroes return to the Big Apple to have the final showdown with Megatron, I mean Shredder.  Loudly.  In broad daylight.  In a city filled with people.  Because fuck ninjas, am I right?

11

Oh you thought I was joking about Megatron? Ha ha ha … ha … ha … /weeps

Also, Megan Fox shows up again, proving that there cannot be a single goddamn scene in this movie—even the final showdown between turtles and Shredder—without her.  Oh and everybody falls off of skyscrapers and lives.  And then I slit my wrists, the end.

Final Thoughts

There are small places in the movie where it goes right: some of the turtles’ banter is funny, Leo and Raph’s nonchalant fistbump is cool, and turtle babies in little blankets?  Too goddamn cute.  But that just makes it all the more heartbreaking, in a way.  I so desperately wanted a great TMNT film, one that was a little darker, a little more adult perhaps, with great action and snappy dialogue.  Something that would be appealing to both kids and adult fans.  And with CGI where it is today, come on–we could have gotten a visually stunning addition to the turtles’ multiverse.  But instead we got this:

12

Pictured: nightmares.

This ball of suck is cleaning up at the box office, so we can unfortunately expect more of these.  I can see kids enjoying the action and such, but this won’t be a movie that has any staying power.  It’s another generic action film, ready to be forgotten.  This will in no way create a new generation of turtle fans, and that’s something I find sad.  The movie is not good, but it’s “not good” in a way that feels bad to me.  It just doesn’t capture the things that drew me to, and then later held me fast to, what we fans really love about this strange little property.  Family, humor—badass ninja action—all of these elements are missing from the film.

While I don’t feel it necessary to use the overused term, “raping my childhood,” I will say that this movie is certainly a blight on the TMNT legacy.  Thankfully, the property is still in the hands of much more capable people in the form of the comics, and of course the utterly fantastic Nickelodeon cartoon.  With references to everything from the early Mirage comics to Vanilla Ice, the Nicktoon guys have proved time and time again that they aren’t just casual fans; no, these dudes are hardcore shellheads, and that’s exactly who you want in charge of things.  My advice?  Skip this crap and watch the ‘toon instead.

13

14 15

17

Pictured: some goddamn fucking ninjas goddamnit, fuck

Score: 4/10, go back and watch the original movie instead

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IMDB for this abomination of all that is pizza-loving

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