Saturday, August 9, 2014



Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: A Hoot and a Half

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What was a senior citizen doing at a screening of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? Having a good time, that's what! Fun. Fantasy. An escape. It's all here. Do not look too closely as it has flaws, but the special effects and wonderful acting by that beauty, Megan Fox, made my time spent at this screening worthwhile.
Michael Bay, a co-producer, has whipped this into shape via terrific editing, cinematography and fine acting, but the plot and dialogue are lukewarm. Jonathan Liebsman directs at a fast pace, but the writing by Josh Applebaum, Andre Nemec and Evan Daugherty is dull. The dialogue is lackluster and at times silly when if it had been cool, hip and surreal this film could have had firepower. But watching the effects was sheer joy.
The plot is straight out of Spiderman and a disappointment. But what the hey! Plots repeat especially in the Comic-Con world. The plot is as follows: The evil Shredder and his Foot Clan warriors have controlled New York City in everything from politicians to police. But the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles rise from the sewers to be the vigilantes to fight the Shredder and the Foot Clan. The Turtles have allays in the brave reporter, April O'Neill (Megan Fox) and in her flip, but smitten cameraman Vern Fenwick (Will Arnett). The amazing, skilled-in-ninjutsu Turtles must save NYC from the grips of the billionaire-gone-wild Eric Sacks (William Fichtner) and his diabolical scheme to destroy New York City and all of its inhabitants.
While the characters of this fun film were created by Peter Laird and Kevin Eastman, I just wish the dialogue had been more in-your-face. But it is the acting of Megan Fox that carries this film. Sure her beauty is something to write home about, but the sincerity of her delivery and her ability to listen are equal to her beauty. It is refreshing to see her not in roles of a sexpot or scantily clad, but in the role of a reporter who wants to be taken seriously for her reporting -- just as Megan Fox wants to be taken seriously as an actress. Sex symbols such as Ms. Fox face the worst of Hollywood's chauvinism, and just as the Ninja Turtles rise from suppression, it is refreshing to see Ms. Fox rise from the grips of Hollywood's obsession with treating beautiful women on film like objects. William Fichtner as the villain Eric Sacks is also superb. He is so good that I did not believe his sincerity in his opening scenes. Well, I learned he was playing April and setting her up to be a victim of the Shredder and his Foot Clan.
Will Arnett as Vern Fenwick plays a kind of hanger-on to April's charms with hopes that she will make his day. He has the right degree of innocence and naiveté and listens well. The Ninja Turtles' Michelanglo (Noel Fisher); Leonardo (Pete Ploszek), with his voice played by Johnny Knoxville; Donatello (Jeremy Howard); and Raphael (Alan Ritchson) are amazing in their agility, costumes and special effects, which allow them to be animated as though they are completely human.
But it is the animated fatherly Splinter (Danny Woodburn) who will tug at your rapidly beating heart. Splinter is the Turtles' sensei and adoptive father. He is a Japanese mutant rat who learned the ways of ninjutsu from his owner and master, Hamato Yoshi.
Bernadette Thompson is played by Whoopi Goldberg who has a small part as April's boss at the newspaper. Unfortunately Ms.Goldberg is too broad and mugs on occasion. Sincerity in her acting is lacking.
Do not judge this film by normal standards. If we can have sharks falling from the skies as villains in Sharknado, a huge success, why can't we have alien ninjutsu turtles who are brothers as vigilantes? Makes perfect sense to me. I have never read the comic book, but this did not limit my enjoyment for this film. What's to understand? Just go with it with an open mind. Fantasize with it. And look at Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as visual splendor -- not in the grass while reading a comic book, but at your local cinema while laughing and having a good time.


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