If you stand by the 1990 live action TMNT movie as the definitive representation of the Turtles on the big screen then you should hold onto your seats because Michael Bay's NINJA TURTLES will change that idea for you. Bay's TURTLES delivers the goods in a major way, and after you see TMNT (2014) you'll be wishing that everything that has come before it would just disappear off the face of the earth.
That's not to say that the new NINJA TURTLES movie is perfect. It's not, but damn, it is pretty close. TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES (2014) is high energy, and it's funny too. But it has some flaws in its screenplay. You can time the jokes out on your watch, and 'Vern' played by Will Arnett is there for comic relief only. In fact, we don't really even need him in the storyline when it comes down to it because he really has nothing to do in the story except deliver one-liners. Some audiences might have problems with the lightweight storyline of the film too, but one must remember that we're entering into a comic book world when we enter the movie theater, and once we're inside villians don't always need to have motiviation for their actions or a conflicting moral center.
The Turtles steal the show here as one would imagine, and the performances by Megan Fox, Will Arnett and William Fichtner almost aren't worth mentioning. Bay could've brought in non-actors for the roles and it wouldn't have mattered as the Turtles are so magnetic visually, electric in their personalities, and so well fleshed out that one almost ignores anything else on the screen over the course of the films running time .
If you've ever had any problems with CGI, let Bay's TMNT put that to rest forever. If nothing else, the new TMNT is proof that when CGI is done right, it can make for one of the best movie going experiences one can have. These Turtles don't feel like computer generated characters and these aren't actors in foam rubber suits, these Turtles, in how they are brought in front of the camera in the film often times feel like real beings.
TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES is really fun. The 3-D that one may experience the film in is the best 3-D experience of 2014. Yet, there is so much action and things moving at such a fast pace, that when combined with the gritty and dark feelings of the New York landscape, at times you will have a difficult time keeping up with the movie visually. There are a lot of highs in the new Turtles film, but there are also many lows that are used to present exposition, backstory and comic relief. Here is where the film has its only problems. The low points, and not all of them, come through somewhat clunky at times. In particular a scene with Fichtner and Fox at the 'Eric Sacks' mansion is especially difficult to swallow in the second act. Screenwriters Josh Applebaum, Andre Nemec and Evan Daughterty, didn't set out to re-invent the wheel with TMNT, and while the script is filled with big action setpieces and timed out one-liners, it is also updated with a really smart and clever pop culture asethetic as well. The 2014 Ninja Turtles have embraced hip-hop and technology while still managing to relish in their pizza and skateboarding.
Don't go into the 2014 NINJA TURTLES expecting the same experience one gets from the '90s live action movies. TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES is new and different. It comes to the big screen as a perfect amalgamation of all of the Turtles that have been created before it. It has the darkness of the early Eastman/Laird comic books, the sense of humor of the '90s live action movies and the over-the-top comic-book action of the animated series. It's filled with emotion too. There are some big and emotional moments in the first half of the movie that might be too much for young kids even.
Director Jonathan Liebesman has done an outstanding job here with the new Ninja Turtles movie. He brings the Turtles to the big screen with such finesse visually. One could debate that Liebesman is a sort of Michael Bay protégé as they both share a similar visual style that features lighting fast cutting on big action sequences and sweeping 360 camera movements that capture that action and the emotional moments of the characters. There is even a shot in the new TURTLES movie where the camera descends from high up above a NYC alley, goes down through the buildings and continues to go even farther downward into a manhole as the Foot Clan gather below for an attack. This shot directly echoes the unforgettable shot of a bomb launching from the belly of the airplane which eventually falls through the clouds and onto a battleship destroyer in Bay's 2001 film, PEARL HARBOR. Then, the design of the metal mush-faced 'Shredder' is all too remiscient of the facial design for 'Megatron' in Bay's TRANSFORMERS films as well.
But with the action sequences in TURTLES, Liebesman "Out-Bays" Michael Bay. The action sequences in TURTLES are unforgettable and wonderfully frenetic. Watch for the full length sequence from the film's trailer of the semi-truck sliding down the snowy hillside with the Turtles and Foot Clan in chase. It might be the best action sequence of the last 10 or 20 years in the CGI era.
The finale of the new Turtles movie which features a battle with Shredder and the Turtles will also leave your jaw stuck on the floor after the film is over . Liebesman really dazzles in the finale with his use of Sergio Leone like visuals and symmetrical framing of Shredder as he walks across a rooftop through the fumes of a fire for a final showdown. For some strange reason, the final moments of TURTLES too feel like they were inspired in some way by KING KONG (1933), but you don't know why. Maybe it's because of the Fay Wray like close-ups on Megan Fox in peril. It's weird, but this certainly isn't a bad thing. TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES just might be the best comic book film of 2014.