Not despising Megan Fox’s character should be the minimum criteria for ANY positive film review.
New York City journalist April O’Neil (Megan Fox) dreams of something bigger than fluff reports – just like every other reporter. While trying to catch a break investigating a gang calling themselves “The Foot Clan,” April discovers four vigilantes who are fighting back…and they prefer not to be seen doing it. After she finally catches up to them, she realizes who they are (a big departure from previous incarnations of this tale), a revelation that not only puts her in the line of fire but also gives the existence of the vigilantes away to their greatest enemy (say it with me now): the Shredder!
First off, Michael Bay didn’t direct this movie; he just produced it along with Nickelodeon – maybe all Bay films should be made this way! The real question herein seems to be “Who is the new Turtles movie for?” With a PG-13 rating, the film pushes the violence while still remaining family friendly, but it does manage to straddle the divide between newer, younger fans and those who grew up with the original Turtles. Remember the black and white comic? It wasn’t for kids; in fact, one of the best Turtles movies was the recent mashup of four of the best-known incarnations, from the colorless original to the kiddiest-friendly version. After seeing the newest finished film, the best answer is: everyone. Old fans get the familiar tropes, new fans get a fresh introduction, and everyone meets in the middle for a fun action comedy.
This newest incarnation banks heavily on Megan Fox in the lead role, and (surprise!) she does okay. The worst part of the film, however, is the “hilarious” way everyone treats April like a beautiful idiot – you know, the same way people treat Ms. Fox. From mere innuendo to blatant sexism, Will Arnett’s character is the worst offender (listen for “the candy conversation” for details) and even Whoopi Goldberg’s editor-in-chief treats her like a fool. While this is part of the plot (sort of), the sexism doesn’t end afterward. Yes, she’s pretty, we get it, but was this done to make audiences feel sorry for April or Megan Fox? It would have also been nice to see William Fichtner do something different, but hey, at least he’s getting work.
The look of the Raphael, Michelangelo, Leonardo, and Donatello seem influenced by the alien incarnation Micheal Bay once floated to angry fans – April actually jokes about it in-character – mostly in the odd way their heads and eyes look. Fortunately, the overall effect of having all-CGI motion-capture heroes works well, especially when taking on their nemesis: it’s pretty epic if on a small scale. The humor, the sewers, and even the pizza (now a product placement, of course) is all here, and the action sequences are a good mix of the same. With the above exceptions, much of this production went right when there was every opportunity for it to have gone completely wrong.
Whether this will be another one-shot (like the all-animated CGI TMNT movie) or the start of a new franchise, their fate will rely heavily on whether the Turtles can stand up to a second weekend of Guardians of the Galaxy. That said, however, with a 2014 filled with more Hercules movies than you can shake a Bo staff at, it’s nice to see a decently made revival of four teenage mutant ninja turtles and one kick-ass rat.
(a three skull recommendation out of four)