Films No One Should Watch: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles


I remember being a kid under the spell of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoons. We kicked ass and ate pizza, and dreamt of nothing but hanging out with wise rats while spelunking through sewers of major metropolitan cities.

It made no sense, the cartoon, combining random ass-kickery and enthusiasm dedicated to all things ninja and coolness of katanas with pizza flavor, and yet we loved it. We didn’t try to make sense of why the turtles have morphed into TNMT. Today, a cartoon such as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles wouldn’t be made. Then again, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles shouldn’t have been remade either, and yet here we are.

The latest stab at the childhood hearts and all things awesome by the crippling, life-sucking hand of Michael Bay, took victim of this simple nostalgic concept, and turned it into another action zombie that no one should watch.

This while elephant of a production that cost over $125m to make, and is bound to triple its money in sales, does share one thing with its cartoon inspiration: it makes little sense, except in all the wrong places.

The beauty of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was that the turtles were small, and feisty, and existed outside our reality. They were outsiders who felt it, allowing all the little kids to learn an important lesson: the size doesn’t matter, it’s the attitude and potentially those mean martial art skills that do.

We learned that the inner turtle is a fighter, and I clearly remember being surrounded by all those little kids who for the first time learned about Da Vinci, and the power of jiujitsu, and how much we all agree on pizza being the best food in the world.

In this version of TMNT, we have a convoluted back story of turtles who were really April’s turtles, but not really. You see, she would visit her father’s lab, and was carrying a super sophisticated camcorder for a child, and considered the lab animals her pets, turtles and a rat, feeding them pizza and whatnot. After rescuing the animals during a fire/murder of her father in the lab, she places them on a sewer grate, which is how they end up in the sewers.

Not sure what kind of heartless psychopath April is, but if I rescued pets from my recently departed father’s lab, I’d be taking them home, instead of condemning them to die from drowning or starvation.

You know what happens after that? April forgets all about the pets. She in fact needs to remember them using her video evidence and notebooks.

She is also a reporter. And she is Megan Fox.

This, mind you, is the very same Megan Fox who was banished from Michael Bay’s kingdom, for speaking out against the monarch.

There is the bad guy, played by William Fichtner, and his plan is to extract all the blood from the captured TMNTs, and then synthesize some kind of curative against a toxin that he will himself release onto the population, resulting in both riches and glory.

How blood + toxin + the lab backstory make a congruent narrative is… they don’t.

For some reason, there is also Will Arnett, who is presumably her less attractive, fumbling camera operator/driver. I am quite positive that Arnett is supposed to be the man-candy for the female audiences who are guaranteed to be horrifically bored during the entire film.

Will Arnett is an interesting casting choice, but also represents a painfully wasted opportunity.

The action is glossy. The film is heartless. Lots of jumbly bits convoluting the screen. TMNT win at the end. There are a few mediocre jokes thrown about, here and there.

Also, the new TMNTs are huge. Think “giant turtles.” Their actual size is difficult to approximate, but well above the 6′ mark.

These giant turtles have nothing to do with children, and even less to do with those nostalgic moments filled with laughter, eating ice-pops and playing good-guy ninjas on the playground.

I would go as far as to say that they don’t even have anything to do with teens, except that the film is rated PG-13 for “scifi action violence,” so I guess they are the perfect audience for this incredibly mind-numbing film. Teens, with their limited options for entertainment, are literally forced to go to the local mall and waste their time watching this. That’s the only real teen portion of this film.