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REVIEW — “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”

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1990s “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” nostalgia fanatics beware: This is not the film for you. The new version of “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” does an excellent job introducing these fun characters to a new audience, but doesn’t forget what pleased us older fans in the first place. While there are plenty of flaws with this remake/reboot they really nailed the Turtles, and that’s what is important.

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Surprisingly, Michael Bay’s (“Transformers” series) production company Platinum Dunes allowed the writers/director to stick closer to the comic book property than some of the older films did. While the origin was altered the characters are still genetically enhanced by Ooze, and they did a better job of explaining that process than in past iterations. The tone, overall, was a little darker like the comics were originally, and I’m a fan of that. I can’t stress enough how well they handled the actual Turtles this time around. They looked amazing, the action scenes they were in were bad-ass, and their connection/relationship with each other was spot-on.

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The problem with TMNT is that the behind-the-scenes people (DAMN YOU MICHAEL BAY) felt like we needed a more human element, and the main character this time around was April O’Neal (played HORRIBLY by Megan Fox). This is a story of a woman trying to be a big shot, and discovering what happened to her past, as opposed to being about four brothers that happen to be Ninja Turtles. The scenes with the turtles REALLY WORKED, but there just wasn’t enough of that for me. The human characters were lame, offered forced comic relief, and were under-developed (except for O’Neal).

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The writing /plot this time around was extremely weak as well. Not only did they tell us the same origin story 4 different ways in order to fluff the run time, but they shoe-horned in some awful excuse for how Master Splinter became a Master, and was able to train his “sons.” Add to this some miscasting for the voice work (really? Johnny Knoxville for Leonardo?), and you have some poor decisions on part of what should have been the main characters. The plot itself was clichéd, and has been done so many times I could tell exactly what would happen by about 15 minutes in. I give them credit for how they handled Shredder, he looked SO COOL, but he was grossly underutilized considering he’s meant to be the main villain.

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As a whole you have to understand that this film was made FOR CHILDREN, and not for us wanting more substance. The kids in my theater, most of who had never HEARD of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles before (inexplicably), were having a blast with Michelangelo, and I had a blast with my favorite character Raphael, who they did PERFECTLY. This is definitely a family film that even hardcore turtle purists can enjoy. In terms of quality for adults this is a 3/5 as it is not a very GOOD movie, but I’d give it a 4.5/5 for kids. They should enjoy the crap out of this, and it never gets too dark. zz6

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