Let me get this out of the way – the movie wasn’t necessarily bad. It was just short and competent enough to be passable. The turtle fight-scenes, when they happened, were enjoyable. They did ninja things with nice mo-capped martial arts. But the main problem is the use of the IP – the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Since I got the good out of the way, let me get into the nerdy, fan-boy bad.
The Turtles Look Like Monsters
I guess they were going for realistic or wanting convincing facial expressions – as anything physically fake wouldn’t fit in with modern CGI-fests that movies are. Because of this, there is no connection to these ‘turtles’. Yes, they are mutants, but even with the original comics, they were definitely turtles. Because of this new look, we lose the connection that they are cute animals. Think about it – you could (and I did back in the day) visit a costumed ninja turtle at a theme park. But these 2014 movie turtles? Way too over-designed and ugly to be as convincing in real-life. Sure, people aren’t really going to be conversing with costumed ninja turtles on a daily-basis, but there is connection between what you can physical see and touch, with what is obviously headed toward the domain of the uncanny valley. So, we lose the ‘character’ factor.
Shredder is no Longer the Villain – But This White Guy is?
So, it did seem weird that this great actor, William Fictner, played a rather one-dimensional bad guy when we have the popular and already established Shredder. In the movie, shredder gets very little time and we get this forced subplot about Eric Sacks knowing April’s dad and that he’s friends with Shredder. It was very out of place – I mean, Shredder’s name is Oroku Saki, and this new villain is Eric Sakcs – so similar. The rumor is that the Shredder we see in the movies was added in later. Eric Sacks was supposed to be in the armor the whole time and April’s father. Reshoots were done to change the story around – which explains the forced and oddly explained subplot. I mean, if that doesn’t confirm they don’t know what the hell they are doing, you’re just as mindless as the rest of them. Let’s not get into the wasted potential of Karai…Shredder’s daughter. I guess if Eric Sacks was originally Shredder, then they never really had a story to tell there in the first place.
April is the Star of the Film
The turtles are secondary characters. We don’t see them as much as April, and Will Arnett’s character has more lines than any of the turtles. That’s just wrong. The movie is only an hour and a half, the budget isn’t as big as a typical Michael Bay film – which means profit was the primary concern here. Spend as little money as possible on post-production CGI work in order to make bank. Whether that was the intent of the production company, studio, or director, who knows. But a TMNT movie should be about the turtles. And don’t get me started on Splinter – him and Shredder never met before, so their fight was as anti-climatic as you can get. Such disservice.
So far, the movie is making good money. Maybe they’ll spend more time on making a better second film? I hope. The options are either this movie bombs and the turtles take a different approach in the future, or we get a sequel that may have potential. I’m partial to the former. See this movie if you just want an excuse to go to the movies – and there’s nothing wrong with renting it down the road. Keep your expectations in check.