Film review: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Melissa York
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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Megan Fox
☆ Cert 12A
“There’s nothing wrong with a bit of froth”, protests Will Arnett at the start of Teenage Ninja Mutant Turtles 3D. “Sometimes, people just want candy.” He’s arguing the case for the light-weight, lifestyle news that he finds himself making with a less-than-impressed Megan Fox.
I have a sneaky suspicion this discussion may have actually happened during the making of this film. Froth won, although somewhat ironically for a film so allergic to substance, this adaptation is also utterly humourless.
I loved the Ninja Turtles. They were one of the best things on Saturday morning TV in the 90s. They were turtles in bandannas! They ate pizza! They said things like “cowabunga, dude” and they high-fived a lot!
Director Jonathan Liebesman seems to have erased this from his memory to make a paint-by-numbers blockbuster that replaces the teenage heroes with moody, muscly monsters, who occasionally lighten the mood by hitting on Megan Fox.
The turtles, according to cartoon legend, were created by accident by reporter April O’Neill’s scientist father, who was trying to develop a “mutogen” to provide the antidote to save New York in the event of a chemical attack. He dies in a laboratory fire, leaving his colleague Eric Sacks to hatch a plan to release the chemical attack himself to extort money from the American government. But, little does he know, his turtle subjects survived and they’ve been learning ninjistu in the sewers.
Fight scenes are constant and unimaginative, becoming a confusing mess due to their reliance on CGI and extreme close-ups, which mean you can’t tell who is hitting who. Just as relentless is the product placement, which even makes its way into the dialogue; in this world, people don’t call each other, they Skype on a Nokia Lumia smartphone, and the turtles can’t get enough of Pizza Hut.
You’ll get better graphics, better acting and more laughs if you wait at home for the inevitable tie-in video game.