The 400-Word-Review: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
By Sean Collier
August 18, 2014

The Lone Reptilian

Without forethought, without intention, without a plan, without a target, without justification, without reason, without art and without mercy, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have returned.

God help our childhoods. And our children.

The longstanding Turtles franchise received an unexpectedly worthy live-action feature in 1990, which in turn received two less-beloved sequels. A computer-animated version appeared to little fanfare in 2007, making the latest Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles — both the 1990 and 2014 versions use that name, while the animated flick was just TMNT — a second big-screen reboot, to go along with countless re-launchings in other media.

This time, feckless helmer Jonathan Liebesman is at the wheel. It was assuredly not the performance of his previous snoozers Wrath of the Titans and Battle: Los Angeles that got him the gig, but rather his ability and willingness to shamelessly ape Michael Bay (the film’s producer and seemingly its muse). A script was patched together by the trio of Josh Appelbaum, André Nemec and Evan Daugherty.

I won’t harp on individual offenses too much, but every individual named in the previous paragraph should be utterly ashamed of themselves.

The biggest problem isn’t that the story is derivative and dull (though it is) or that the characters are broad and soulless (though they are) or that the whole film is generally unpleasant to experience (though it really, really is). No, the truly unforgivable problem here is demographic in nature.

It seems that the jerks responsible for this reptilian mess wanted to follow in Marvel’s footsteps and hit both younger crowds and the Millennials most familiar with the source material. Fine! All well and good. Except, of course, that we’re in the hands of imbeciles, who can’t handle that task. So we get a movie that’s woefully inappropriate for both groups. Those above the age of 12 or so will be put off by juvenile-at-best humor, dull dialogue and a Swiss-cheese plot. Children will undoubtedly be entertained by action sequences and giggle at mild vulgarity, but be bored to tears at the super-serious, camp-free exposition.

And more upsettingly, those children will be exposed to a kinetic, hyper-violent mess that packs the once-benign franchise with guns aplenty and demolishes innocent bystanders. If nothing else, this franchise is supposed to be innocuous fun, not a troubling action spectacle. There are contenders, but I can think of no tentpole release that failed this spectacularly.

My Rating: 1/10