Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Sep 12, 2014

The Turtle Power reboot is now up on the big screen: awesome!

If you were a youngster in the mid to late ’80s, chances are you watched the television animated series of TMNT. As a global phenomenon, it was difficult to avoid. You might have had a plastic figurine or two and, if you were lucky, a playset of the sewer, complete with moveable elevator.

If, instead, you were a parent pestered to purchase merchandise tie-in goods, you may have at least found some delight in watching the child run around in a strap-on turtle shell costume with colour-coded face mask shouting “Cowabunga!”.

Now director Jonathan Liebesman’s reboot is up on the big screen. Leonardo (blue, leader of the four), Raphael (red, quick-tempered, muscle-bound), Michelangelo (orange, cool dude) and Donatello (purple, geeky nerd) are secret vigilantes lurking under New York City, ready to dispense justice.

Their main target is the growing threat of the Foot Clan, who go about their nefarious business ostensibly under the direction of the exotic woman Karai, but clearly controlled by the uber bosses.

Leo, Mikey, Raph and Donnie are adolescent enough not to listen to the advice of their father-sensei, Splinter, the wise rat teacher of ninja. Of course they are going to push the boundaries up on street level.

Reporter April O’Neil is desperate to be taken seriously. But instead of hard news stories, she gets only the soft stuff – not enough for a young lady of substance to feel validated. That is, until she bikes past the dock in the wee hours and spots our heroes. But who will believe her tales? And what synchronicity has her connected to them? That will be established by a new backstory suiting more modern tastes.

The big-screen, all-go action works fine as an ’80s update. These youthful characters are not bowed down by adulthood, with their antics joyously pitched at the young. Sure, there’s lots of exciting fighting, but it’s not the gritty stuff parents might have feared, and it’s replete with fart jokes and shots of bottoms and bras. Imagine a peg down from the Transformers franchise. (Speaking of which, April is played by Megan Fox – star of the earlier Transformers films – and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is produced by Transformers: Age of Extinction director Michael Bay.)

Arch baddy Shredder is scary and the plot is predicable and contains a silly inconsistency. But who’s concentrating on that?

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The film is strangely compelling with all its thrilling rooftop scenes and subway dwelling. With a sequel due for 2016, maybe it’s time to reacquaint yourself, or introduce your youngsters to the shenanigans that are the Turtles.



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