Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is a fun movie. It has some fun characters (mostly just the four Turtles), they kind of go through a journey (although all the human characters end the movie in the same place they began, giving us no real arc), and there’s action and conflict with moments of comedic relief. They got the characters of Michelangelo, Donatello, Leonardo, and Raphael pretty spot on, which is pretty much what carried me through this movie.
Here are the cliff notes:
The Ninja Turtles get an updated origin, Splinter learned Ninjitsu from a manual he found in the sewer as opposed to watching and mimicking his human sensei, and they have a connection to April O’Neil (Megan Fox) prior to being mutants that I didn’t completely hate. Although (SPOILER ALERT!) her dad setting fire to his lab with his daughter in the building kind of makes you glad he’s dead.
Shredder is just called Master Shredder, with no mention of his real name, Oroku Saki, keeping him as two dimensional as the film’s other two villains Sacks and Karai. This is one of those movies where bad guys are just bad because you need conflict, and their master plan truly doesn’t make much sense. Yet, when it came to why Splinter raised the Turtles to be good, there’s actually a fairly good reason for it, with a bit of heart. Granted it’s silly and cheesy, but it’s something at least.
I’ve seen so many negative reviews about this film from either fanboys like me or critics who just don’t know how to have a good time at a theater anymore. So I wanted to do something different and get the opinion of someone in this film’s demographic. This is where Caleb (age 7) comes in.
While waiting for my friend after the movie, I was standing near a TMNT display in the lobby of the Arclight Theater in Hollywood. There was a boy getting his picture taken, who wouldn’t take his eyes off the Donatello mask I was wearing around my neck (don’t judge). I talked to his mom and asked if it was okay for me to interview Caleb to learn what he thought of the movie. She let me ask him five quick questions:
Q. What was your favorite part of the movie?
A. I liked when they went down the hill in the snow. That was cool! And when they fought Shredder.
Q. Do you have a favorite Ninja Turtle?
A. Michelangelo! He’s funny!
Q. Did you think Shredder looked cool?
A. No. He was scary. I didn’t like him.
Q. Do you watch the current cartoon series or was this your first time seeing these characters?
A. I like the cartoon on Nickelodeon.
(His mom, Jennifer, mentioned that he watches it all of the time)
Q. Last question, Caleb. If 10 means this was the best movie you saw all year and 1 means it’s the worst, what score would you give this movie?
(He thought for a moment)
A. 7! No, 8! 8!
And there you have it. This kid gave Jonathan Liebesman’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles the fine score of 8!
Since this movie was made more for Caleb than it was me, his score of 8 has more merit over my fanboy, cynical score of 7. Thank you Caleb and Jennifer for helping me with my review. If you’re a fan of the Ninja Turtles, you’re almost definitely going to enjoy the four brothers in the film, as they are dead on what you want from them.
I don’t want to believe that Michael Bay had much say in this film as a producer, but I can’t help but notice that the human characters all suck and the villains are flat and uninteresting, just like in the Transformers franchise. Still, I came for Ninja Turtles, and I left happy with how the four of them were portrayed.
I agree with some of the harsher reviews that are out there, but after talking to Caleb I gave my review a second thought. In the end, I had fun and I felt as a fan of this franchise it was worth seeing. If you have kids, or have the ability to bring out your inner child, I say go see this film, if for no other reason than to see your favorite heroes in a half shell kick a lot of butt.