Comic Book Movie Review: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

teenage-mutant-ninja-turtles-posterI didn’t see this movie in theaters, mainly because I hated how the Turtles looked, and didn’t want to waste money on a movie I may dislike.  I figured I’ll just wait for it to be released on DVD, and get it from Netflix.  I don’t mind watching possibly bad movies with Netflix, a I feel like my money goes to the quality things I watch, and not the crap.  And so it’s with this thought That I watched Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  (Coincidentally, Jacob watched at the same time I did, in a different location.)  I’ll just say I do not regret my decision to wait.

I have been a TMNT fan since I was a wee little lad.  I was first introduced to them with the original cartoon.  After that, my brother and I found some collections of the original comics, and read them until the covers fell off.  I loved the movies, freaking out when I saw a poster for Secret of the Ooze.  Between my childhood and a few years ago, I didn’t have much contact with the franchise.  I saw and loved the animated TMNT movie, but I didn’t watch the television cartoon.  It was a dark time in which I didn’t have DVR.  Those were dark times.  I got back into the franchise a few years ago with the launch of IDW’s series, and the Nickelodeon series.  I really enjoy both and recommend them to everyone. I tried to have an open mind about this new movie.  I wanted to be pleasantly surprised by it.  After all, a few people I know said it was enjoyable.  However, I did not like it all.  (Some spoilers below.)

I know this movie wasn’t directed by Michael Bay, but I kept thinking about how much it reminded me of his Transformer movies.  My biggest complaint about those movies is that it always seems like the Transformers are side characters in their own movies.  The story is about the humans (at least the fourth didn’t have Shia LaBouf), and the Transformers are only there for exposition explaining why they’re there and action sequences.  When I watch a Transformers movie, that’s not what I want.  Likewise, when I watch a Ninja Turtles movie, that’s not what I want.  I don’t want the story to be about April O’Neil and Vernon Fenwick.  I want the Ninja Turtles to have the character development.  Without character development in this movie, you’re relying on the audiences’ previous attachment to these characters when you have emotional moments.  For the first movie in a franchise, that’s terrible storytelling.

I don’t mind the general premise of the movie.  Here, the Turtles and Splinter were lab experiments that April’s father was working on.  After a fire destroyed the lab, they found themselves in the sewers.  Years pass, the Turtles mutate, and Shredder is there because he’s the Ninja Turtles most recognizable villain.  Really.  That’s his connection in this movie.  He’s partnering with another scientist to spread the mutagen over New York City.  We’re told the Foot Clan has a major presence in the city, but there’s nothing really showing that.  The Turtles have no previous history with the foot clan at all.

To me, they missed the point of why Shredder is the Turtle’s biggest villain.  It’s because of the history they have, whether that be in the versions in which Splinter is Hamato Yoshi or is his pet rat, or like in the current comics, the Turtles and Splinter are Yoshi and his sons re-incarnated.  There’s a reason for them to be fighting that is personal.  It’s not just good guys versus bad guys.  In this movie, that is all it is.  The Turtles are fighting Shredder because they’re the good guys, and he’s the bad guy.  Nothing personal.  Nothing emotional.  So, when they have the final battle between the two, it doesn’t really mean anything.  (Let’s just ignore that April get’s the final blow against Shredder.)

While those are my main complaints with the movie, here are some of my other thoughts.

  • I don’t know when the movie is supposed to be set, but is it ever possible for their to be snow covered mountains right outside of New York City while the people within the city aren’t wearing winter coats?
  • Mastering ninjitsu by reading a book, and then teaching others to master it is jut silly.
  • I couldn’t help thinking that Will Arnet was just trying to be Hank Azaria in Godzilla.
  • I didn’t really have a problem with the Turtles’ voices or dialogue.  Just wish they would have been a bigger focus.

Regardless, the movie was successful enough for a sequel to be made. Hopefully it’ll be a better product than this one.  More than likely I’ll end up seeing that movie at some point also, though at this early stage, its unlikely it’ll see any of my money.



  1. I love the original live action TMNT- so naturally, I wasn’t impressed with this one.

    The real key is to realize the old movie is an 80’s Ninja Movie (which is awesome), while this was just another generic superhero flick.


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