The new “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” (TMNT) feature — directed by Jonathan Leibsman — didn’t give me much reason to care about the half-shelled heroes and their struggles.
The movie follows four mutated turtles — Leonardo, Michelangelo, Raphael and Donatello — that have been taught martial arts by a mutated rat. They live in the sewer and love pop culture and Pizza Hut pizza.
Their enemy is a Japanese clan known as The Foot, led by a shadowy, evil dude who wears a robotic Samurai suit.
The Foot clan has been secretly plotting to take over the city using a poisonous gas, but they already appear to be a well-structured and established organization that is capable of taking an entire subway full of people hostage. During the climactic roof battle, poisonous gas is about to be released; yet, police and civilians alike stand on the street, getting in the way of falling debris.
The film is 98-percent action and 2-percent character development. Each turtle is given a single trait — one is brainy, one is a doofus, etc. — and a different color headband. Important plot points are boringly told to us in voiceover or by some supporting character — in other words, Leibsman and crew are going for the absolute bare minimum.
This is a kids’ movie, so none of that is very surprising. What’s more surprising is that the screenplay is credited to three people: Josh Appelbaum, Andre Nemec, Daughtery? The story is as thin as the thinnest napkin.
The visual effects, however, do look very good, including the turtles themselves. You can see every vein, scratch, dimple and wrinkle on their faces and bodies.
Oh, and Megan Fox plays the human protagonist, a TV news reporter who’s tired of being given fluff pieces and whose father just so happens to be the one who mutated the turtles and their rat Sensei.
Her character serves no purpose other than to get in the way of things and stand off to the side while the Turtles kick butt. While the other human characters —played by the likes of William Fichtner and Will Arnett — are having a grand, old time hamming it up, Fox insists on taking her character seriously.
The kiddies should be entertained, and grown-up Turtle fan boys who wish they were kids will probably be entertained, too. For me, this movie pretty much eliminated any interest I might have had in the Turtles before.