Four turtles, turned human size by some mutant goo, first appeared in comic books in the 1980s, got their own cartoon TV series, and then made their cinematic debut back in 1990. The original movie wasn’t bad (we’ll ignore the two awful sequels) and 2007’s computer-animated TMNT was watchable, but it was probably the success of the current animated TV series that led someone in Hollywood to decide the time was right to reboot the franchise and launch a new Turtles movie onto an unsuspecting cinema going public.
Produced by Nickelodeon and Michael Bay – he of the overblown Transformers movies – this is aimed at boys under the age of 10 (though do note it is violent enough to earn a 12A certificate) who know exactly who Leonardo, Michelangelo, Donatello and Raphael are (and we don’t mean the painters). Odd then, that the lead role goes to Megan Fox as news reporter April – surely her fan base is older boys? – but then she isn’t given much to do except run around from catastrophe to catastrophe, giving our ninja-and-pizza loving heroes someone to rescue.
This is a reboot of sorts, introducing us to the turtles and their master, rat Splinter (who, parents should note, looks rather too rodently realistic for very young viewers) and giving us their backstory, as well as that of April, as she attempts to discover why a gang named the Foot Clan is terrorising New York City. It’s slicker than previous versions – no rubbery suits for the turtles here, it’s all done with motion capture to make the 6ft turtles appear realistic – but with a flimsy story that doesn’t stand up to any scrutiny (the complicated plan to hold New York to ransom is just daft).
Will Arnett – as April’s TV cameraman sidekick (who fancies her, of course) and William Fichtner (as the big businessman who knew her dad) add some humour to the proceedings, but while this is flashy and fast paced it just isn’t very much fun. There should be jokes a-plenty – after all, surely a movie about giant talking turtles who practise karate, act like petulant teenagers while being trained by a mutant rat should be as daft and dopey as it sounds.
Is Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014) suitable for kids? Here are our parents’ notes...
Parents should note that this features frequent martial arts scenes and violent action sequences.
There is also some bad language.
Younger viewers (under 7) may find Splinter the rat scary to look at.