A few weeks ago, I reviewed Transformers: Age of Extinction, which I gave a rather low score to. Most of my friends who read the review said that they understood where I was coming from and that they agreed with my critiques, but some people thought that it was ridiculous for me to even bother criticizing such a ridiculous film. I think that I can understand what they’re saying; why should I even bother reviewing a film that is nothing but an obvious cash grab? Upon watching the movie, it’s quite obvious that even Michael Bay himself didn’t care about the quality of the film; it’s just another sequel to a disappointing franchise that somehow rakes in boatloads of cash. Why would I even bother complaining about such a movie? Well, in my mind, that’s exactly what a movie critic does: review all films, both good and bad, and give them their day in court. To give a pass to a movie like Age of Extinction just because it’s self-aware wouldn’t be fair to masterpieces of the action sci-fi genre such as Empire Strikes Back or The Avengers. If those films represent the heights that a film like Transformers can reach, then of course I have to give Age of Extinction an awful rating. Reviewing bad films is just part of the job, and it’s something that I have to do right now with the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie.
Most boys from my generation know the basic story of the Ninja Turtles. Four young turtles along with a friendly rat named Splinter become covered in radioactive slime and grow up to become a fierce crime-fighting team with Splinter at the helm. In this film, a young reporter named April O’Neil, played by Megan Fox, discovers the existence of the turtles during one of their skirmishes with the Foot Clan, a local crime syndicate under the command of the evil Shredder. The film plays out from there exactly as we’d expect; one fight scene after another with very little character development in between.
In all of my reviews, I try to list positives before I start complaining about the movie, but I’m afraid that this film’s list of “pros” is shorter than a bachelor’s grocery list. The one thing that I can say is that I enjoyed Will Arnett, who played April’s partner from the news crew. He was the only person who I found to be consistently entertaining throughout the movie. Besides that, I didn’t find TMNT to be enjoyable at all.
As most people know, this film is produced by Michael Bay and directed by Jonathon Liebesman, although it really feels like Bay was the one making the big decisions during the film’s production. I am not exaggerating when I say that TMNT feels like Transformers 3 with giant turtles and gang members instead of giant robots. There are all of the Michael Bay trademarks: the cameras switch too quickly during action scenes, there’s an intense overuse of slo-mo, and the CGI, while impressive, isn’t enough to save these scenes from their sloppiness. The direction made the action scenes nauseating to watch, which is really bad for this movie as that is the only thing that I might have found enjoyable about it. If even the action scenes aren’t enjoyable, what can possibly be redeeming about this film?
The script and story are atrocious. April is an almost completely useless character until the last twenty minutes of the movie, and Megan Fox’s performance is even less interesting than her screen time in Transformers. The turtles’ lines were written to be funny, but most of the “jokes” came off as either obnoxious or just plain dumb. I only laughed at two or three of their quips throughout the entire film. Michelangelo was clearly written to be the goofy one of the group, but his humor will only appeal to young children and the lowest common denominator of adults. This is even more evidence that Liebesman handed some of the reigns over to Bay, whose Transformers movies contained very similar humor.
The other turtles aren’t very interesting, either. Raphael has a beef with Leonardo, the group’s leader, which has almost no effect on the plot. Donatello is the “nerdy” turtle, providing us with more of that braindead humor that Bay loves. The four are supposed to be entertaining, but I found them to be very annoying instead. The sad thing is that last weekend we were treated to Guardians of the Galaxy, a film that almost perfectly blended sci-fi, action and comedy. Had Guardians writer and director James Gunn been at the helm of TMNT, this might have been a very entertaining film. This feels like the kind of film that most audience members were scared that Guardians of the Galaxy would be; it’s both too silly and too serious, and the aspects of both elements don’t work in the slightest.
I hated this movie. This one can’t even go in the “so bad it’s good” category; it’s not even amusing. Watching a bad action movie for kicks can be fun with the right people, but this movie is not just a bad action movie, but a bad comedy, which is never fun to sit through. This is the worst film that I’ve seen all summer, and even nostalgia can’t save it from itself.