Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Release Date: 17 October 12A | 101 minutes Distributor: Paramount Director: Jonathan Liebesman Cast: Megan Fox, Will Arnett, William Fichtner, Alan Ritchson, Noel Fisher, Johnny Knoxville, Jeremy Howard
Though it arrives amidst a storm of controversy after producer Michael Bay emphasised that the title characters would have an alien origin, the fact that there’s some tinkering with the backstory is the least of this film’s worries. Because what director Jonathan Liebesman has delivered gets very little right.
Let’s start with the positives, shall we? Despite their weird appearance ( the animatronic versions from the ’ 90s movies are less odd- looking), Leonardo, Michelangelo, Donatello and Raphael work relatively well as characters, their usual banter intact and their love for pizza at least briefly on display. Raph is saddled with the usual plot baggage of feeling like the outsider, but it’s a note that Alan Ritchson, the man beneath the CG, plays decently. The characters, for the most part, feel like themselves and have easy, charismatic sibling chemistry. And then there’s Will Arnett, something of a Marmite choice as reporter April O’Neil ( Megan Fox)’ s cameraman, but who manages to get in a few decent quips.
The bigger problems are with the film around the wisecracks. Liebesman and writers André Nemec, Josh Appelbaum and Evan Daugherty stick so closely to the formula for a movie like this that you find yourself able to predict what will happen before it shows up on screen. The usual batch of brotherly bonding, heroes finding their way, and life lessons learned is doled out in routine style. The ridiculous lengths taken to link characters in previously unexplored ways will have most people sighing, especially when it comes to April O’Neil, her father and William Fichtner’s Eric Sachs.
Action- wise, things are typically bombastic, with one or two interesting uses of the Turtles’ natural advantages far outweighed by poorly choreographed fight scenes and some of the most clichéd moments in mainstream cinema this year. And when a film can waste a character actor as respected as Fichtner, you know there are bigger problems beyond a slightly hackneyed script.
The latest outing for those heroes in a half- shell is already a hit overseas, with a sequel in development, so no matter what you think, more is on the way. Let’s just hope the next film fixes some of these issues. James White Two mo- cap actors – Pete Ploszek ( Leo) and Danny Woodburn ( Splinter) – had their voices replaced. Dave Prowse sympathises.
Leonardo’s feet could probably do with a wash.