Director: Jonathan Liebesman
Writers: Josh Appelbaum, Andre Nemec and Evan Daugherty
Cast: Megan Fox, Will Arnett, William Fichtner, Johnny Knoxville, Tony Shalhoub, Whoopi Goldberg, Abby Elliott, Taran Killam
Studio: Paramount

“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” is not a terrible movie, but it is so far away from being good. How can that be? Well, the thing I took away from the movie was that Will Arnett and Michelangelo were in a passive aggressive Fedora contest to see who could date rape April O’Neill first. Seriously, I would love to know what meeting it was decided where Mikey had to be revamped into a member of the Duke Lacrosse team. The rest of the film comes across as an attempt to appease 30 years worth of fans while showing an insane love for the 2003 series.

There’s something about the Turtles that always rubbed me the wrong way as a kid. They were always bulky, upstaged by their co-stars and the animation always felt poor. None of that really comes into play, outside of the ugly CG redesign. But, these guys were never meant to look pretty. I do appreciate the extra attention paid to April O’Neill in this version. Megan Fox finally gets the chance to play a capable lead who doesn’t have to spout inane Diablo Cody dialogue. Then, we get poor Johnny Knoxville working his ass off in his first major voice acting role and he kills it as Leonardo. Sadly, no one else can make the most out of what’s presented.

When a major studio decides to adapt a kid property into a feature film, one has to wonder what this means for the larger state of American cinema. Trying to make the juvenile approachable for adults has a long history. It’s just that when it’s every other film, one has to wonder how to even judge the bad from the even worse. It’s a conundrum that I find myself becoming ensnared. Such problems won’t stop me from covering future titles, it’s just that it’s a nagging bother in the back of my brain.

Still, I’ve got to admire a product that chose to parody Frank Miller before Miller became a parody of himself. While aspects of that original Mirage Comics Frank Miller parody are still there, this film acts like it wants to make a big budget take on the 2003 series. Everything from the alien origins of the Ultroms arriving in feudal Japan to the Shredder design. Still, no one got two inches from the camera and said that their face is their warrant. That makes it the better Michael Bay involved production of the year and worth seeing for those in state of perpetual arrested development.

RELEASE DATE: 08/01/2014

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