The summer of blockbusters ended with an iconic reboot that has long been awaited. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle (TMNT) film introduced Leonardo, Raphael, Michelangelo and Donatello to a new generation of fans. With the last live action TMNT film being in 1993, Michael Bay revamped the new movie to fit the expectations of this new generation. To this extent the film fell prey to what can only be coined as the Michael Bay effect. To audience members expecting an action-packed firework display, the movie does not disappoint.
Just like his Transformers franchise, Bay keeps the audience glued to the screen. TMNT mixes the exoticness of martial arts with the fantasy storyline of four super-powered masked reptilians and places them in one of the most populated cities in the world. The ninja turtles keep the enemies at bay (pun intended) unbeknownst to the human population of New York City and unsurprisingly save the day. This is where the second part of the Michael Bay effect takes place. The film was almost great. Almost.
What the Transformers franchise and TMNT have in common is their willingness to sacrifice character and story development in exchange for immediate thrills generated from action sequences. Normally I would caution that the following paragraphs contain spoilers but the movie is predictable enough to put things together fairly quickly.
The story begins with Megan Fox portraying April O’Neil an entry-level reporter and daughter of a dead scientist relevant to the story. Her investigative skills allow her to discover the Foot Clan, an underground crime organization led by Spinter. Through her continued research she stumbles upon the ninja turtles as they save pedestrians in the subway station later on in the film. Her encounter with the turtles is not a coincidence however. The story does a short explanation of how the turtles became powerful and how April O’Neil saved them from her father’s laboratory at an early age.
The turtles themselves changed to meet the needs of the current generation. Gone are the days of people outfitted into Styrofoam costumes. The new computer generated ninjas are ferocious and are detailed to the last scale on their skin. What they lack is not physical detail but rather an internal one. While the movie has its funny moments here and there with Michelangelo he still lacks a personality. The only real dialogue of depth comes between the rivalry between Raphael and Leonardo. Even then, it is difficult for the audience to even care about this rivalry since the movie does not clash the characters against one another. That leaves O’Neil as the sole character who has more than one dimension of emotions. It is no compliment to the film when I state that Megan Fox was one of the better actors in the film.
O’Neil relays her encounter with the turtles to one of her father’s colleagues and shockingly to no one, he is a member of the Foot Clan and student of Splinter. The Foot Clan imprisons all of the mutants except Raphael and Master Shredder, the rat mentor to the turtles who only appears for like five to ten minutes in the film. The rest of the story is pretty straightforward. Raphael finds away to free his brothers and it all culminates into a rooftop battle versus Splinter with the turtles claiming victory.
For those seeking a fast paced adventure experience Bay has more than satisfied that desire. For those who are interested in the comic book story line and have fallen in love with the characters over the years they trailer is probably enough of an experience.