Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Film Review)

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Film Review)

Despite not really wanting to watch this film, I was sucked in by the nostalgia of my childhood love of TMNT. The toys, the cartoon series, and even the mediocre live-action movies. It was a pop cultural phenomenon, and I was in the middle of it, being the perfect age for the release of all of the things related to the Turtles. Hell, I even owned a tape of the movie soundtrack, when they were released in the four colours of each turtle (my copy was the purple Donatello version of the cassette).

So, with hesitation and trepidation, I went ahead and cued up the reboot of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on Netflix. Why not? How bad could it be? I’m sure it wouldn’t be able to retroactively ruin my childhood.

Well, it can be pretty damn bad.

There are a lot of terrible things about this film, and very few redeeming ones. Let me count the ways, starting with the negatives:

  • the acting is absolutely terrible. Megan Fox brings us to new levels of bad in this role. But even she is surpassed by William Fichtner in this movie. It is not good at all. Not that they were working with a good script, or anything. This was a paycheque movie for both of them, and they acted like it.
  • Shredder looks absolutely ridiculous. When he finally gets his Shredder armour, which isn’t until nearly the end (since when do we ever see Shredder’s face?) it looks like it was made up of all the spare parts of a Transformers movie. It looked terrible, and during his fight sequences, it was pretty ridiculous. tmnt3
  • How much stuff are the turtles going to carry around with them? Donatello constantly has a massive amount of crap on his back. And Raphael annoyingly has a pair of sunglasses on his forehead for the entire movie. Seems pretty impractical for ninja stuff, if you ask me. tmnt2
  • The fight sequences are definitely from the school of Michael Bay directing. A lot of action that is very hard to decipher what is actually going on. They just end up being messes of noise and colour, and lose any impact of the events that are actually transpiring.
  • The directing of Jonathan Liebesman is pretty poor. It is like he just discovered that you can tilt the camera for shots, and then decided that he should probably just go ahead and do that for every single scene. If you like low angled, tilted shots, then this is the film for you.
  • The story itself somewhat follows the original, but it is managed to be rendered pretty silly (well, even sillier given the source concept of this whole thing). The childhood connections of the turtles with April O’Neil is ridiculous and not needed. How would she not remember these things from her childhood, like saving a bunch of turtles from a fire? Not easily forgotten, one would assume.
  • There really is poor development of the turtles themselves. One part of the original series was that they were so unique from one another. That comes across a bit in the film, and they touch on it, but it isn’t enough to really make a difference. Not that anybody is watching this film for the characterization or anything, but a little bit would have helped.
  • The whole April O’Neil story line of wanting to be a serious reporter is pretty dull.

These are some pretty big hits against the quality of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. It is not a good film, and perhaps worst of all, it is not very entertaining to watch. I honestly don’t care if a movie is bad, but at least make it fun. TMNT does neither.

However, there are a couple of decent things in this movie.

  • Megan Fox is still pretty damn good looking. And she can really fill in a pair of jeans, so that is a plus, I suppose. tmnt4
  • There are a couple of funny parts from Michaelangelo. Of course, he is the goofy one, but he actually gets to provide some humour to the film, and some levity from the general stupidity.
  • A funny scene when the turtles are in an elevator and start to make music as they ride up for their final fight. It was weird and out of place, but it was actually pretty fun.
  • I didn’t hate the way the turtles looked, as many people have. The CG is well done (until the clusterf*ck of the fight scenes).

Not exactly a stellar list of pros for this movie.

I get that some people quite liked Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I feel that were a lot who were happy that it was “just ok,” and not complete childhood blasphemy. And we have a plethora of options of films that are just ok.

TMNT doesn’t even make it to that low standard, making it a film that I would recommend skipping.

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“Wrapped in Plastic. Twin Peaks.” (Book Review)

“Wrapped in Plastic. Twin Peaks.” (Book Review)

The day that Laura Palmer was found dead on the beach in the small Washington town of Twin Peaks, a cult-classic was unleashed.

Even though the series only lasted for a total of 30 episodes spread across two uneven seasons, Twin Peaks has remained a phenomenon, and consistently viewed as a show that was able to change the face of network television. 30 episodes have created a ton of fan websites, a yearly festival, magazines, books, and even after much desire from the public, who was both fans of the show when it initially aired, and those who have discovered it in the quarter-century since, there will be a new run of episode of Twin Peaks starting in 2016.

plastic2I have written a few items on the show on this blog, as well as more on my often-neglected Twin Peaks blog. If you want to read a review of another book related to the show, please check out https://gatsbyfuneral.wordpress.com/2014/12/13/reflections-an-oral-history-of-twin-peaks-book-review/.

Wrapped in Plastic. Twin Peaks provides us with another view on the series, and one that is incredibly well done in a very short amount of space. As a part of the Pop Classics collection (which also includes books on Showgirls and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), this story of Twin Peaks is done in a great way that provides more information for the Peak Freak out there, as well as the casual viewer, or one just getting into the show. There is much repeated information in here, if you are a die-hard fan and follower of the show, but it still provides enough insight to keep it interesting, over its very brief 101 pages.

Something I especially enjoyed about the book was the nods to the humour in the show. So many things that are written about Twin Peaks focus on the darkness, on the strangeness, and on the the murder of Laura Palmer, and then the following decent of the show from the heights of pop culture after the murdered was revealed. But so many people forget that there were so many moments in the series that were very humorous, and they no longer deserve to be neglected. Author Andy Burns does a great job of reminding us of those funny moments, and how it added so much to the show, as well as giving us a break from the messy lives of the people that inhabited the small town.

plastic3Wrapped in Plastic also does a strong job of citing the influence that Twin Peaks has had on modern television. We often hear about how influential it was, but Burns goes to the point where he describes the impact that this show had on other major dramas of our time, from The Sopranos to The X-FilesNorthern Exposure to Psych. It really brings everything all together, and after reading the book, it gave me a new appreciation of how important this series really was in changing the way that networks viewed the shows they were airing, and how people were watching them, and what they were willing to deal with.

Burns takes us quickly through the development of the series, the casting, and the magic of David Lynch and Mark Frost in creating the show, along with notes on several of the episodes in the series. He writes like he truly loves the show, which is great, because let’s be honest…the vast majority of the readers of this book are also going to be fans of the show, and want to read about it by someone who loved it too. He also focuses a fair amount of his time on the development of the themes in the series, such as the duality of the characters, demonstrated primarily by the role of the Black Lodge, and the dopplegangers that are found within. I found this quite interesting, especially when many more connections were made to the prequel film, Fire Walk With Me, as it offered me some views that I had not thought of before.

While Wrapped in Plastic is not as in-depth and intensive as something like Reflections: An Oral History of Twin Peaks, it still manages to get to quite a bit. With the book being so short, I had no trouble reading it in one sitting, in a little over an hour. This speaks not only to the brevity of this work, but to the readability of it. It is very interesting, and it is always great to be taken back into the town of Twin Peaks, and into the lives of the characters in it. And Burns does a great job of doing that, exploring the relationships between the characters, pointing out his observations, along with generally maintained theories about the show.

For those die-hard fans of Twin Peaks, who are clamoring for something to keep them occupied until the much anticipated Mark Frost novel, The Secret Lives of Twin Peaks comes out at the end of the year, and then the 2016 episodes, Wrapped in Plastic is a fantastic place to get back into the world of our favorite town. It does well to be nostalgic, so fans can remember the lofty heights of the show, even remembering its demise with some affection, and it does well to look forward, to see how the fingerprints of Twin Peaks are all over our current television landscape.