I’m sweating over the words I’m about to type because I know how the Internet works, I know there are rules, boundaries and taboos that, if broken, can bring forth a relentless tidal wave consisting of liquefied integrity and broken bits of what might have once been a good reputation. Ok, here we go – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2014 was a guilty pleasure for me, I acknowledge that it’s not well put together or well acted by certain parties onscreen but I enjoyed it…
(*Dodges thrown sharp objects*)
I know, I know, as strange as it sounds I enjoyed that film, amidst the negative reviews and terrible relentless hatred for all things Michael Bay and the legitimate fact it wasn’t very well written in the first place, I was the only person alive, excluding children who also seemed to like it from what I hear, who was on its side. It wasn’t a great film, I didn’t love it, it was stupid as hell, badly scripted and childish but I had fun with it, what can I say, and now it gets a sequel, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Out Of The Shadows to give it it’s full title, now what do we have here?
The plot concerns the turtles, Leonardo, the leader, Donatello, the brains, Raphael, the muscle and Michael Angelo, the… mascot?… the canon fodder? The film refers to him as the “pizza lover” so I guess that’s pretty much his position, as they try to stop Shredder all over again as he has escaped from prison and recruited two mutated nitwits named Bebop and Rocksteady to help him find some pesky McGuffins and, of course, take over the world for the classic villain from the cartoon series, Krang.
This movie has a primary goal on its mind, to do as best it can to fix the issues people had with the first film, not enough focus on the turtles? Fine, they are definitely the main focus this time around; you want Shredder to not be a giant Swiss army knife? You got it, you want Casey Jones, Bebop, Rocksteady and Krang to finally show up in a live action movie? Here they are dear friends. It’s really rather strange because this movie manages to maintain some of the fundamental problems the first film had but because it’s also fixing many issues at the request of disheartened fans, it gives the impression that, as a film, it’s doing everything correctly, it isn’t, but it creates an impressive illusion.
Now, without beating around the bush, this film is unbelievably stupid, just like the first film it has a convoluted plot (not as convoluted as last time but the fact still remains), terrible dialogue and exposition (except for the one-liners) and is obviously intended primarily for children who like to think they’re cool, as we now live in an age where comic books and superheroes are becoming what makes you cool as opposed to being a nerd. I say children who think they’re cool because there are a few adult oriented jokes that don’t actually feel like they’re there to give the grown ups an excuse to watch it along side their offspring, but rather so the kids will think that what they’re watching is risqué to a certain extent, which will provide them with considerable “street cred” on the school play ground.
All that being said, I kinda liked it, I’m pretty much in the exact same boat as last time, I mean I acknowledge that the film is as daft as a clown at a funeral, childish, silly and absolutely preposterous on every conceivable level but it also did so many things right in that they were so entertaining, I can’t help but say I really liked watching it and that I laughed one helluva lot, not at it either, but with it. I was able to suspend disbelief even before seeing it for the simple fact that it’s a live action film about giant mutant reptiles going against a cult of ninjas, featuring monster rhinos, piglet abominations and a talking brain that lives inside a robot from another dimension, once that was settled, anything unbelievable became entertaining as hell.
The action is the best part about it, it’s visually satisfying and a ton of fun to just look at, is any of it physically possible, no, of course it isn’t, when Raphael jumps from one plane and smacks onto the cockpit window of another without being turned into what the turtle from Cannibal Holocaust ended up looking like, you know this isn’t a film with only what’s possible as its main concern. The banter between the turtle brothers is witty and faithful to what previous incarnations have been innate of, which, as a fan, definitely put a smile on my face. The CGI seems to have improved and has a much better attention to detail, the cinematography is colourful and accommodates the spectacle very well, the humour, for the most part, flows very naturally and feels appropriate rather than forced, most of the time anyway, and wouldn’t you know it, there are genuine moments of depth.
Keeping in with trying to appease angry fans, there are some things this film just needed to have, whether it’s the silliest romp ever made or not, there are aspects from turtle lore that just can’t be left out, the father figure to the turtles, rat sensei Splinter, actually feels like a loving guiding hand to these creatures and not just because the film says so. The brothers actually feel like there exists a dynamic between them, there’s actual depth to their characters, as unbelievable as that sounds, I have to be honest about what I saw, and I saw a real attempt at complexity between them. Megan Fox has been carefully scooted over to the side-lines and doesn’t have anywhere near as much screen time as the last film and the fact that this is directed by a genuine fan of the source material, unlike the previous conveyor belt mind set that spawned the first instalment, really allowed for some aesthetic satisfaction, what I mean is that this film has a heart, it has a soul, there is effort to be found here.
So in the end, what the hell is this thing? I would call it better than last time, stupid as hell, full of clunky and frustratingly stupid exposition and maintaining a childish attitude but I liked it, I liked the visuals, I liked the action, I thought the turtles were well done as characters, the stuff that’s there just to please fans worked on me just fine, the jokes are mostly funny and it’s great for shutting off your brain and just enjoying a goofy ride, am I the only one who will feel this way? Probably, will most others hate it? Perhaps, but if you’re just asking me, I’d say I had a good time, that might be blasphemy, but hey, someone’s gotta stir the pot, I mean if we all just conformed to what’s popular then what would we have to argue about?