Reviewed by: Andrew Jenson—first time reviewer
using violence and aggression to solve problems
bravery, courage, self-sacrifice
Review: “TMNT” (2007) “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV”
|Featuring:||Megan Fox … April O'Neil
Alan Ritchson … Raphael
Will Arnett … Vernon Fenwick
Noel Fisher … Michelangelo
Johnny Knoxville … Leonardo (voice)
William Fichtner … Eric Sachs
Minae Noji … Karai
Jeremy Howard … Donatello
Whoopi Goldberg … Bernadette Thompson
Danny Woodburn … Splinter
Tony Shalhoub … Splinter (voice)
Abby Elliott … Taylor
Pete Ploszek … Leonardo
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|Director:||Jonathan Liebesman—“Wrath of the Titans,” “Battle Los Angeles,” “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning”|
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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.