Movie Reviews & Interviews from Washington

‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ Review: Starring Megan Fox, Will Arnett & Johnny Knoxville

Director Jonathan Liebesman (2011’s Battle: Los Angeles) and producer Michael Bay’s (2014’s Transformers: Age of Extinction) reboot of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle franchise is nostalgic, an adrenaline rush and pure fun. Though it may not be the best reboot in the world, it’s certainly worth seeing if you’re a fan of the comic books, cartoons or even the films of the early ‘90s.

Based on the characters created by Peter Laird and Kevin Eastman, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles opens in New York City where we meet feisty and daring reporter April O’Neil (Megan Fox). April is constantly doing little stories for the local TV news station, but is itching to catch her big break with a breaking news story. One night on her way home from work, April witnesses NYC’s biggest crime gang – The Foot Clan – doing a dirty deal just outside the city. Just as she flips out her cell phone camera to capture it on video, four shadowy figures appear and start fighting back.

A few nights later while April is out working with her lovesick cameraman Vern Fenwick (Will Arnett), she notices people running out of the Subway. Desperate to figure out what going on and against Vern’s instructions, April dashes into the Subway only to come face to face with the Foot Clan and their evil leader Shredder (Tohoru Masamune). Just when the Foot Clan is about to strike, large green turtles in colorful facemasks appear and start fighting.

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After April meets the teenage mutant ninja turtles, all named after Renaissance painters: Raphael (Alan Ritchson), Michelangelo (Noel Fisher), Leonardo (Pete Ploszek, but voiced by Johnny Knoxville) and Donatello (Jeremy Howard), the Turtles bring her down to their home in the sewer to meet their Master and Father, a mutated rat names Splinter (Danny Woodburn, but voiced by Tony Shalhoub) and they six make a plan to fight Shredder.

Megan Fox is a breath of fresh air as dedicated journalist April O’Neil and this is easily the best thing the actress has done since 2009’s Jennifer’s Body. Always criminally underrated and mainly used as supporting role “eye candy”, Fox proves that she can lead an action film, kick some butt alongside four powerful turtles and rock that yellow leather jacket like its going out of style. Her character gets a bit buried in the second half of the film, but Fox’s presence is strong throughout the film.

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The visual effects of the turtles are great, but they aren’t excellent. I’m still a little weirded out that they have nostrils versus the flat and clean nose they had in the cartoons when I was growing up. The 3D is useless and adds nothing to the story. It darkens the movie especially in those underground sewer scenes. When the action gets going though, there are some extremely wild and fun point-of-view shots between the ninja turtles as they are flying down a snowy hill jumping from truck to truck and using their weapons like true ninjas. It’s these scenes that made me nostalgic of my childhood when I would religiously watch the cartoons every day.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles makes us long for the beloved cartoons my generation grew up on, but it also breathes new life into the franchise, with hopes of more feature film to follow. Megan Fox is fantastic as the lovely April O’Neil, while Michael Bay adds his signature style, if only a little bit, to the overall film.

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