The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle franchise has existed, and even thrived, since 1984. That’s no small accomplishment, given the level of attachment each generation subjected to it forms to the group of mutant ninja brothers. For those somehow unaware, though different lines change the origin story in different ways – the core story is essentially that four little turtles and a pet rat wind up getting splashed with “mutagenic ooze” causing them to rapidly evolve and grow to resemble humans. Some series attribute other traits to this process, such as this movie in particular, but the core premise is always the same for the most part.
I can see why fans of the original series have complaints about this film, and as a generally critical movie-goer I was right there with them in spirit but somehow this movie did not draw my ire the way changes in other film adaptations tend to. I raged for weeks over how stupid the Green Lantern movies needless changes (like the Lantern shape itself, which no longer made sense with the logo of the entire Lantern Corps). Maybe I just heard too many reviews myself before seeing it, and this cherished childhood series warranted some of my sympathy when I went in to see it; the end result, however, was that it really didn’t bother me.
Yes, this series makes some changes, but in the very least they’re not as unexplained and unjustified as other reviews are making them out to be – while I may not agree with the artistic direction it doesn’t create any inconsistencies. Inconsistencies are what bother me the most, when a fictional movie is not “true” to it’s own established reality. That said? There’s some pretty dumb changes. The size of the turtles bothers me; while they do an incredible job capturing the feel of the four turtles as actual teenage brothers (probably one of the strongest things the movie does ‘right’) – their six foot plus and muscle-bound statures paint them more as adults. Just making Michelangelo immature (his trademark trait) was not enough to make them teenagers; Raphael looks like a roided-out giant, with the rage to match.
There are some needless plot points that I don’t want to spoil, but there are.. new “connections” between classic characters that added nothing substantial to the plot. There’s also a strange connection on the villainous end of things that is entirely needless; It’s almost as if when writing it they were sure people would care about the plot unless it was like two mountain families a-feudin’ fer land. Frankly, if you really look for them? Yes, there are plot inconsistencies but the strange thing is that unlike Michael Bay’s normal crap, there’s really not many more than most other movies these days. In the end I did find myself laughing on occasion and paying attention the entire way through.
One of the complaints I’ve seen the most was the relevance of the Foot Clan, and how it’s definitely not in it’s “traditional” form (a ninja clan). While I see how that complaint forms, if you pay attention they DO (indirectly) explain just why that is – In this continuity (without going too in depth and spoiling anything) the Foot Clan is a shattered and disgraced Clan, lending it’s name out for the sake of reestablishing itself. Trust me, there’s far more about the villainous side of things to be outraged about than THAT; They explain that, you just have to pay attention.
The biggest grievance I have stems from a change in Splinter’s personal history that devalues an entire core facet of the series. Again, trying to remain spoiler free there isn’t much I can say here, but while they made Master Splinter (quite frankly) awesome… They abandoned an aspect of his own history that made the entire “ninja master” thing less ridiculous than the explanation given in this incarnation of the series.
Setting aside what you know and love about the Ninja Turtles, this is not a bad movie standing on it’s own. The problem is that it has 4 movies about the same subject matter preceding it, and they all frankly did a better job. It brings the Turtles to yet another generation, and in that, mission accomplished. Kids will like it, adults will get a chuckle or two out of it and get to watch a new generation experience an old love of theirs in a new light, and everybody goes home happy. It’s worth seeing, you just have to manage your expectations. On the plus side? They portray the turtles as brothers very well, even getting the teenager vibe right (outside of the physical aspect), and they managed to make Master Splinter more relevant in a very cool way (while ruining his backstory). Yes, there’s a few needless plot aspects, and Michael Bay screws things up like only he can (amazing special effects for the constant slow-motion action shots), but in the end the movie is entertaining. Plus, at least it didn’t have a dramatic Linkin Park theme and Optimus Prime flying away into outer space at the end; granted it has a much worse , far more pandering ‘new’ ninja rap… (Knock-knock you about to get shell-shocked).