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  Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Green And Obscene
Year: 2014
Director: Jonathan Liebesman
Stars: Megan Fox, Will Arnett, William Fichtner, Alan Ritchson, Noel Fisher, Pete Ploszek, Johnny Knoxville, Jeremy Howard, Danny Woodburn, Tony Shalhoub, Tohoru Masamune, Whoopi Goldberg, Minae Noji, Abby Elliott, Madison Mason, Taran Killam, K. Todd Freeman
Genre: Action, Science Fiction, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  3 (from 1 vote)
Review: A terrorist gang known as the Foot Clan are holding New York City in the grip of a crime wave, and reporter April O'Neill (Megan Fox) would love to get a scoop on the whole story, but try as she might her bosses still land her with trivia like a "get in shape after winter" demonstration when she knows she could do so much better. Her cameraman Vernon Fenwick (Will Arnett) tries to persuade her that not everyone wants to hear news items that are all doom and gloom and gritty, but she's having none of it so when she gets a lead from someone who knows about the theft of rare genetic material, she heads off to the docks alone that night. However, what she sees has her doubting her sanity...

And everyone else doubts her sanity too in an example of what was becoming a cash cow for Hollywood studios in the twenty-first century: take an existing property, preferably with a hefty dose of nostalgia attached, and reboot it for a younger audience so their parents would take them to see the kind of entertainment they appreciated as kids themselves. It had it all, a built in guarantee it would make money thanks to the brand recognition, and equally certain publicity since even those who were appalled at the notion would be vocal enough about it in social media that there was added, free publicity into the bargain, and plenty of it. That latter aspect was part and parcel of the marketing.

This hatred of what, in this instance, producer Michael Bay was doing with these franchises, was responsible for even more discussion than if they had made a product with a universal appeal, making you wonder if most of those who caught Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (or its obvious comparison, Bay's Transformers movies) were doing so out of a desire to have an object of utter derision as moviegoers began to characterise themselves more by what they didn't like as what they did like. The argument came up time and again: these were movies for kids, so they didn't really need to be sold anything of exceptional quality, meaning they would swallow any old garbage as long as it was bright, colourful and inane, which was selling a whole generation very short indeed.

Fortunately, not every movie production aimed at the family audience thought the laziest effort imaginable would be appropriate, for every Turtles and its ilk there were the gems, The Lego Movie or Frozen or much of Pixar's output, family films with brains in their heads rather than an overstuffed profit margin to gloat over. So where did this leave a blockbuster such as this, was it worth piling on with the haters? Well, not so much, as that would be giving too much credit for the equivalent of a junk food meal for the eyes and ears, something disposable but which leaves you feeling hungry for something more shortly after, whether that be more junk or more substantial, like for instance the original Star Wars this rips off a "kill the mentor" bit from. One thing against that conclusion was that this wasn't too pleasurable to look at or listen to.

Take the Turtles themselves, resembling reptilian eighties Arnold Schwarzeneggers, crafted in CGI rather than the puppetry and costumes of the previous entries and too creepy to warm to with their realistic eyes but not very realistic anything else. Not helping was their personalities, especially Michelangelo (Noel Fisher) who came across like a stalker who wouldn't take no for an answer when it came to his emotions for April, but you had to expect an element of inappropriate behaviour by now with Bay productions, especially his mass market works. Not even the tired addition of fart gags would lift that, but more dispiriting was Will Arnett in a throwaway role, second billed but yet another example of a very talented man given thin gruel to perform in modern Hollywood. Also not helping was a script equally scanty when it came to plot, leading to every point being overexplained and drawn out to a tedious degree. But you knew what you were getting into with these, and if you were truly disappointed it was a case for pitching your expectations far lower. Repetitive, cliché-ridden music by Brian Tyler.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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Jonathan Liebesman  (1976 - )

South African director who got acclaim for his powerful 2000 short film, Genesis and Catastrophe, based on the Roald Dahl story. Made his Hollywood debut with hit horror Darkness Falls and followed it with epics Battle: Los Angeles and sequel Wrath of the Titans. A Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot was successful but little loved.

 
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