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Movie Review

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sci-fi action violence.

Reviewed by: Andrew Jenson—first time reviewer

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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Teens Adults
Sci-Fi Action Adventure Crime Comedy
1 hr. 41 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
August 8, 2014 (wide—3,700+ theaters)
DVD: December 16, 2014
Copyright, Paramount Pictures click photos to ENLARGE Copyright, Paramount Pictures Copyright, Paramount Pictures Copyright, Paramount Pictures Copyright, Paramount Pictures Copyright, Paramount Pictures Copyright, Paramount Pictures Copyright, Paramount Pictures Copyright, Paramount Pictures
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Paramount Pictures

GENETIC MUTATIONS—Can they produce positive changes in living creatures? Answer

CANCEROUS MUTATIONS—Where did cancer come from? Answer

fighting evil

vigilante justice

using violence and aggression to solve problems

greedy corporations

bravery, courage, self-sacrifice

Review: “TMNT” (2007) “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV”

Featuring: Megan FoxApril O'Neil
Alan Ritchson … Raphael
Will ArnettVernon Fenwick
Noel Fisher … Michelangelo
Johnny KnoxvilleLeonardo (voice)
William Fichtner … Eric Sachs
Minae Noji … Karai
Jeremy Howard … Donatello
Whoopi Goldberg … Bernadette Thompson
Danny Woodburn … Splinter
Tony ShalhoubSplinter (voice)
Abby Elliott … Taylor
Pete Ploszek … Leonardo
more »
Director: Jonathan Liebesman—“Wrath of the Titans,” “Battle Los Angeles,” “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning”
Producer: Paramount Pictures
Nickelodeon Movies
more »
Distributor: Paramount Pictures

Sequel: “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows” (2016)

So—four six-foot, pizza-loving, smart-aleck mutated teenage ninja turtles, who were trained in the sewers of New York by their mutated rat sensei—who, in turn, learned ninjutsu by reading a book—go out fighting the evil Foot Clan and a metalized, knife-wielding super samurai named Shredder with the assistance of young and yellow-clad reporter April O’Neil. That almost makes a movie about good giant, transforming, sentient robots that fight evil giant, transforming, sentient robots sound credible.

The aptly named “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” resurrects the iconic characters from the beloved 1980s cartoon and sets them on their journey to vigilantism.

The film follows April O’Neil (Megan Fox), a reporter desperately seeking a big story. Her chance comes when she witnesses the vigilante turtles taking down the Foot Clan. Of course, no one—especially her editor, Whoopi Goldberg—believes her, and she ends up on the street without a job. When her safety is in question, the turtles kidnap her, delivering her to their sensei, Splinter.

A big problem arises when Shredder invades the sewers, attacks and nearly kills Splinter and kidnaps three of the turtles, save for Raphael. When Raphael and O’Neil go to rescue the other turtles, they unravel the Shredder’s plan to take over New York with evil scientist Eric Sacks, who unknowingly created the mutated turtles with O’Neil’s father. It’s now up to the turtles and O’Neil to stop the Shredder and Sacks and save New York and Splinter from destruction.

Even if you are a Turtles fan, the movie isn’t likely to win you over. It’s loud, overbearing and has producer Michael Bay’s fingerprints all over it. Those who enjoy Bay’s “Transformers” franchise might enjoy “Turtles,” but everyone else may want to avoid it.

The only good aspect about this movie is the voice cast for the turtles. They at least seem to have fun with it. Everything else is just terrible. The design of the turtles is creepy, at best, and Megan Fox—who looks in constant need of a shower—has little to no personality. The CGI is very weak, and I found myself constantly aware that I was looking at computer-generated puppets. The movie also has a terrible sense of humor. There’s maybe one or two funny lines, but otherwise every joke falls flat.

The villains are boring. Shredder is nothing more than the final boss the turtles must face, and William Fichtner as Eric Sacks is average. Their plan is hardly explained, but that doesn’t matter in the end because it looks like it was ripped from “The Amazing Spider-Man.” You can just fill in the blanks from there. My guess is they were trying to mutate everyone in New York, but without the whole lizard bit. In any case, the film’s protagonists are colorful and over-the-top, and the villains should have been as well.

Now, how does “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” work in the context of Scripture? It doesn’t. The film is far-removed from the teachings of the Bible. It would be a stretch to pull any Biblical messages out of this flick. You could make the case that the film addresses the importance of family, brotherhood and the need to love one’s neighbor. But, the film is too silly to work on that deep of a level. For example, there’s a moment in the film where the turtles are apparently falling to their deaths. Raphael, being the brooding and stand-offish brother, opens up and tells his brothers that he loves them. He goes on about this for a good 30 seconds before it’s revealed that the turtles had landed safely and weren’t going to die after all. What could have been the movie’s best and most Christian moment is just played for laughs. Unfortunately, love for one’s brother(s)—especially seen in the light of Christ’s love for us—and similar themes cannot be discussed in a serious light in the context of this film.

There is a lot of violent content, including the use of bodily force and weapons like guns and nunchucks. The turtles and humans exchange blows constantly. No one dies, but there are some perilous and intense situations—the turtles and the Shredder fall from a great height, ninjas zap the turtles with electric rods, and the protagonists slide down a mountain in a semi-truck.

When it comes to language, the movie is surprisingly clean—at least, compared to other recent blockbusters. The expletive “a**” was used once and the Lord’s name was taken in vain three times. However, there are plenty of sexual remarks directed toward Megan Fox, especially from the turtle Michelangelo, who seems obsessed with her and teases the others about her being his girl. He even makes a remark about his shell tightening because she’s so hot. The references aren’t in-your-face and don’t have a strong presence, but they are there and are uncomfortable to sit through.

Fortunately, the film doesn’t really sexualize Fox or other characters. If anything, Fox is more repelling than she is attractive. The only outstanding moment that attempts this comes when Fox is leaning out of the semi-truck on the mountain and her assistant, Vernon Fenwick (Will Arnett), gets a good look at her clothed rear end. And there is an end credit scene where a woman featured on a billboard is seen from her waist up and only wears a bra. Otherwise, Fox remains fully clothed like the other men and women in the film.

Overall, this is one of the most ridiculous and forgettable movies released this year. It doesn’t live up to its strange premise and fails to entertain. Especially damaging is its sad attempt to appeal to teens and adults.

Where the cartoon had some sense of dignity and a good amount of fun, this flick doesn’t. And at nearly two hours, that’s a lot of un-entertaining material to digest. “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” is definitely not worth your time or money.

Violence: Heavy / Profanity: Moderate—OMG (1), damn (1), s-word (1), ass (1), numb nuts (1) / Sex/Nudity: Moderate—cleavage, dialog, oogling, Victoria Secret model

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive—This movie wasn’t made to win an Oscar. …It was supposed to be fun. It was fun. I took my two boys who loved it. I enjoyed it as well. If you’re looking for a deep movie don’t go see it. My kids don’t want character development, they don’t want a deep story line, in fact, sometimes I don’t want all that either. Just a fun, light summer movie that entertains.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Todd, age 33 (USA)
Positive—Great movie. It was well worth seeing and doing well at the box office. Just a short scene with Whoopie Goldburg that I did not like, but a funny and very intertaining movie. Close to the old movies that our children loved. Recommend to see.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Ken, age 60 (USA)
Positive—“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” was a very fun movie. I was worried with Megan Fox playing April that she would bring some unnecessary sexuality, like in the first 2 Transformers movies, but she was actually well-behaved for this movie (a short top here and there, but nothing particularly graphic). Michelangelo’s crush was the worst it got in terms of sexuality. The cussing was at a minimum, and the violence was “Good vs. Evil”. The worst it got in terms of violence is the Shredder is seen biting a man’s hand in the beginning, but it’s portrayed in a negative light.

Eric Sacks” character shows how betrayal and deceit are to be shunned. As a Christian, I am very pleased sin is portrayed in a dark light. I’d say the minimum age should be about 10 years old. As a Turtles fan who watched both the ‘87 and ‘03 cartoons, I thought this movie was very fun, and the humor made me laugh at least approximately a dozen times.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Peter, age 24 (USA)
Positive—My 10 and 12 year old grandsons loved the movie, but my wife fell asleep. There is nothing significant that any Christian should find offensive, and there is lots of Good vs. Evil. It could be viewed as a subliminal Good Samaritan tale, as the heroes are knarly turtles, and their leader is a rat, and he is not drawn in a cute fashion, but villainous indeed. Despite his appearance, he was willing to sacrifice his life for others—there is no greater love.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Brian Schacht, age 67 (Canada)
Positive—All movie reviewers inevitably inject their personal preferences into their reviews, but I felt that the main reviewer had an obvious bias against this movie. I agree with the reviewer who stated this movie was meant to be fun. I took my wife out on a date night, and I decided this movie we would both enjoy. In this day and age, almost all stuff in theaters is garbage. So for someone who just wants a fun, fictional, action adventure, “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” easily exceeded that expectation. The writing in spots was a tad “B” movie-ish, but I didn’t mind.

The build up to the action was good, and my wife and I both jumped during a certain sneaking scene, and we both laughed throughout at the humor. I personally thought the CGI for the turtles was very good. I mean, I even thought I saw the sweat beads forming on Raphael’s skin. If the turtles were real, this is probably what they would look like. Yes, my wife and I have seen all the other TMNT movies, and this is a very good reboo,t in my opinion. more »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Adam, age 30 (USA)
Neutral—Quoted from the main reviewer: “Even if you are a Turtles fan, the movie isn’t likely to win you over.” I probably agree with much of the main review, but I disagree with this… This one does leave a lot to be desired. …I rarely go to the theater, and I agreed to go see this with a group of guys all around my age (low-mid 30s). We all grew up watching Turtles, playing with them, and pretending to be them. We each have our favorite turtle and can tell you why. We all had a good time, and we laughed a lot. In fact, I’d say most of the theater laughed out loud with us.

However, I’m sure I wouldn’t have enjoyed it as much going alone, or with “just anyone.” Anyone who didn’t grow up with the Turtles or has never been a fan probably won’t “get it.” There are plenty of nods to the original personalities, even though there was some deviation. Leo was a little more aggressive than I remember, but that’s about the worst. Shredder’s role was a wasted opportunity. April’s personality was about right, even though she is the center of the sexuality present in the film (contributing to the PG-13 rating, I’m sure). This one’s probably nearer to the bottom of what makes a PG-13 movie, but I would not take kids to see it. Skin tight clothes, an unnecessary booty shot, Mikey’s “tight shell” comment (weird), etc. Could all have been left out. more »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality:
—Nostalgic Turtle Fan, age 33 (USA)
Neutral—They just had to bring out the swanky acting of the main actress, although I was impressed they didn’t make her wear really revealing outfits… that was shocking, especially with the way they constantly focused on her mouth open, lips and dramatic sensual acting. Too bad she groups herself in that acting, because she could be a good actress. And there were about 10 sexual comments and innuendos. And, of course, totally ungodly that a turtle could be somewhat human and have all these super powers. I will admit the graphics were good, and it was suspenseful. They did tie her into the story well of why she was there, and the movie was pretty funny. Just got a little annoying sitting there with my husband and her sensual focused acting, so unnecessary.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Stephanie Smith, age 39 (USA)
Negative—While I agree with the main reviewers comments about the movie in general—I disagree that the movie was not trying to “sexualize” certain people/things. This movie is aimed at VERY young children—and that is who most parents will be bringing to the movie. The focus on the backside of Meagan Fox—as mentioned by the main reviewer—is sort of lingering—not just a fleeting moment. Also—the billboard with the V. Secret “model” on it—happens just before the credits—so no warning on that as well. One thing the main reviewer failed to mention is a VILE comment by one of the turtles when he first meets Megan Fox (April)—he gushes over how good looking she is and make a lewd comment that his “shell is starting to get tight”—no graphic explanation needed…

So—my recommendation is not to bring children to this movie—these three instances of sexualizing this movie—although small—they are still trying to desensitize these children—not to mention all the dads that go see the movie as well. I know worse can be taught to children in school—but Hollywood, in this case, provides three examples in this movie of letting Satan work through them to see if he can get into the eyes/mind/heart of a child or man…
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Paulette, age 50 (USA)
Negative—I almost had an heart attack waiting for the action to begin—too much Megan Fox. I’m going to need therapy after seeing this movie; I’m still in shock. …
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Johana, age 29 (Mexico)
Comments from young people
Positive—I just saw this movie…, and I thought it was amazing. I went with a group of friends, and they loved it, too! I am a girl that always finds the curse words in movies. In this movie, there are actually 2 a-words. I looked at Christian Spotlight to see what I was going to see in this movie, and the section on when it talks about language in the movie, there was not that much. I was trying to find the s-word in the movie, but I never heard any of that. Overall, I personally thought the movie was very good, but there was action so I do not agree with parents bringing children that are 5-7 years old. I do not agree with parents bringing their children to a movie with action of things exploding, people getting shot, and with the a-word in it. It is a PG-13 movie for a reason parents!!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Payton, age 14 (USA)

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