The bros are back, and they’re a whole lot of fun. Director Jonathan Liebesman injects the action and bravado back into the beloved cult comic book creations from Peter Laird and Kevin Eastman, for a brand new generation in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Darkness has settled over New York City as Shredder and his evil Foot Clan have an iron grip on everything from the police to politicians. The future is grim until four outcast brothers rise from the sewers and discover their destiny as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The Turtles must work with fearless reporter April O’Neil (Megan Fox) and her wise-cracking cameraman Vern Fenwick (Will Arnett), to save the city and unravel Shredder’s diabolical plan.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is a rush from start to finish, jam packed with epic martial arts action, and lough out loud comedy antics, providing a true and faithful representation of who the Ninja Turtles are. This commitment to who these characters are, and what they represent, boils down to the vision of director Jonathan Liebesman, who is a lifelong fan himself. Liebesman gets the vibe of these characters, understanding that first and foremost they’ve got be be fun to work on screen. The South-African born and raised director nails this, and while there is a dark palette presented with Shredder and his Foot Ninja Clan, the light hearted and fantastical moments are always around the corner. Secondly, Liebesman understands how important action is to the Ninja Turtles, and this particular adaption is jam-packed with it. From leaping across rooftops and fights on subway platforms, to the Turtles dodging rocket propelled grenades on a wild ride down a mountainous peak, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is intense, dangerous, and exhilarating to watch.
Liebesman has also assembled an awesome cast for the film, and all of them are perfectly placed in their roles. Megan Fox leads as ambitious reporter April O’Neil, but while she wants to be a crusading reporter for good, she’s unfortunately the stations good looking ‘promo girl’ who is meant to only report on human-interest stories. But when she stumbles upon the Turtles, she finds herself in far more trouble than she could have ever imagined. Fox really nails April’s courageous, feisty nature, and her undying pursuit to be taken seriously in a profession where a pretty face tends to be overlooked in the intelligence department. The fact that Fox is a strong, independent free spirited young women is perfect, as April O’Neil maintains similar personality traits. But April isn’t just going it alone in her attempt to uncover the truth, forcing her disapproving and wiseass cameraman Vern Fenwick, played by Will Arnett, into the hunt. Arnett is an absolute scene-stealer, and while he can’t help but have a crush on Fox’s O’Neil, he’s a loyal ally and courageous friend who facilitates her investigation, and is there for her when no one else is.
While New York City might have a pair of crusaders for justice in April and Vern, it has a definite antagonist in William Fichtner’s Eric Sacks. A corrupt businessman with personal ties to April, as well as the deadly Shredder and his murderous Foot Clan, Fichtner is a great villain whose presence is indicative of the contemporary society that we live in today, when our best and brightest sometimes turn out to be our enemies.
But this movie isn’t called Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for a nothing. The bros are brought to life by four incredible performers beginning with Pete Ploszek and special guest voice Johnny Knoxville as Leonardo (the Turtles’ default leader and moral center). A master martial artist with the katana blade, Leonardo is devoted to his brothers and the code of Bushiedo that that they live by. Alan Ritchson is the hotheaded Raphael, the Turtles’ all-around bruiser who, while possessing a disregard for authority, never lets his brothers down. Jeremy Howard is Donatello, the Turtles’ resident techie genius. Far from a nerd, Donatello is a dedicated warrior, who’ll pick up his bo staff to protect his city and his brothers. Finally, Noel Fisher is the perfect embodiment of everyone’s favorite wisecracking turtle, Michelangelo or Mikey. The youngest brother of the four, Mikey fosters dreams of a career in rap music, as well as his status as a ninja. Slightly self-delusional, he harbours a crush on April, and is always finding ways to get his brothers into trouble. But when they need him, he’s there spinning his nunchucks and taking down bad guys. Guiding them of course is their dedicated sensei Master Splinter, played by Danny Woodburn and voiced by Tony Shalhoub. Splinter has no time for laxed attitudes, and is a masterful warrior of the ninja arts.
All of the Turtles were perfectly cast, with their performers truly understanding them as individual characters, and as brothers. They’re a tight crew who are responsible for the film’s most memorable moment: an impromptu rap concert. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is filled with impressive action set pieces and mind-blowing special effects, not to mention the Turtles themselves who were brought to the screen via motion capture, and who have an awesome contemporary style with new armor, gadgets, and bandanas.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is a fun, fast paced ride which truly captures the essence of who the Ninja Turtles are, and why we love them. Audiences are guaranteed to enjoy every minute, so make sure you grab a slice of double pepperoni, and sit back for the ultimate Ninja Turtle ride. Cowabunga dude!
Image source: Paramount Pictures.