Here we go again with Fishing in the Discount Bin, my weekly ramble about the latest Blu-Ray I just re-watched. This time out, I get to one of the...most disappointing superhero reboots of recent times, 2014`s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. This is in my notes at January 4, 2015.
When it comes to the latest Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie, I agree with the bulk of Ninja Turtles fans. "Well...at least they got the Turtles right." And it's about the only thing they got right.
Shredder is a big hulking metal monster. April O'Neil is just bland. The other villain, Eric Sachs, is bland. It's such a bland, by-the-numbers superhero tale.
Seemed like when Paramount bought the franchise in 2009, and announced this new movie, they could do nothing right. First, there was the infamous leaked early screenplay which changed the Turtles origins to make them aliens. (It's acknowledged in the film when a characters asks April, "So, what, they're aliens?" and she replies, "No, that'd be stupid.") And speaking of April O'Neil, there was much nerd rage when Megan Fox was cast in the role. I don't get all Megan Fox hate. I think she's...not as bad as most make her out to be. And as April O'Neil, I give her a solid, "Yeah, she did OK."
That being said, the Turtles have been given a needlessly complicated new origin. Now, April's father was one of the scientists developing the mutagen. The Turtles and Splinter were April's pets and her father's test subjects. When the evil Eric Sachs wants to use the mutagen for his own evil purposes, he and April's father fight to the death and fire breaks out in the lab. Young April saves the Turtles and Splinter and stashes them in the sewer for safety. The Turtles and Splinter begin to mutate, and Splinter realizes that since they're outsiders, and that Sachs' evil forces might come looking for them someday, they should learn to defend themselves. So they learn the art of ninjitsu from some old Japanese history books they find in the sewers.
I think you've figured out that Sachs' evil forces are the Foot Clan. As has been well-documented, Eric Sachs was originally going to be revealed to be Shredder (Eric Sachs being a good English approximation of Oruku Saki), but after complaints that a classic comic book character was being whitewashed, it was changed in editing to make Shredder a shadowy Japanese guy bossing around Eric Sachs from the shadows.
Oh, the general plot. April O'Neil is a TV news reporter. She's stuck doing the fluffy human interest stories, but she wants to do the hard news. While investigating the evil shenanigans of an organized crime ring known as the Foot Clan, she crosses paths with the Turtles, realizes their connected to her childhood pets and her father's and Eric Sachs' research, which leads her to uncover Sachs' and Sherdder's evil plot. Hijinks ensue.
There is some good. There are some pretty descent action sequences, the highlight being the Turtles escaping from the Foot Clan on a semi that's sliding down a snowy mountain slope, even though it is pretty CGI at times. Will Arnet, a totally funny guy, does the best he can as Vernon, April's sidekick and cameraman.
But again. It's just such a bland, run of the mill superhero tale. A sequel has already been announced, and in my eyes, they can redeem themselves if they reveal Eric Sachs to be Krang.
But at least they got the Turtles right.