Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Quadruple-Feature: Turtle Power!

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2014.

Spoilers Ahead

The Turtles were one of my first obsessions, perhaps the first true franchise I was aware of and absolutely loved to death. I remember next to nothing of the animated series, even though I used to watch it religiously as a child, and I kept missing the various reboots (though I'm interested in checking out the most recent one).

As for the films, well the first is still one of my favorite movies of all time and to me the perfect distillation. The second, while I was fond of it at the time, did not age well for me at all (and I'll never forgive Vanilla Ice for what he did to Under Pressure). The third? I forgot most of it by the time I walked out of the theatre - probably for the best, though I have trouble believing anything is as bad as people say these days.

So I'll admit I was nervous when this thing was announced and some rumors broke that things were going in a very weird and inappropriate direction. Thankfully, much of that was alleviated by seeing the teasers which proved that this was not the case. I became psyched for this movie. So how did it fare?

Honestly, the 1990 adaptation is the only thing I still like more. This is a fantastic representation of TMNT. True, the plot may be a little simplistic and there's a bit more style than substance, but hey - it's TMNT. This whole thing started as a vicious parody of Frank Miller's Daredevil/Elektra comics. We can't expect anything more than a fun action flick with interesting characters, and by golly that's exactly what we got.with interest!

One thing I will address though: The Shredder. When I heard William Fitchner was playing The Shredder, I like many was a bit concerned about Whitewashing, since Oroku Saki is Asian. Well, the filmmakers heard and hastily re-shot extra scenes to make it clear that "Eric Saks" is just a red herring - The Shredder is actually an imposing Asian man who raised Saks. And, honestly, watching the film...I think it would have worked out better and made more sense if Saks HAD been The Shredder and they kept Baxter Stockman in the role Saks ultimately played in the film's climax. Besides, Fitchner always plays a convincing jerk (to the point where casting him is almost a spoiler in itself).

Other than that, I was entertained and practically jumping for joy. I've never been a fan of Megan Fox in any respect, but not only did I find her tolerable as April, I actually liked her! Will Arnett was funny, though generic. Whoopi Goldberg was kind of wasted - she showed up for maybe five-ten minutes oif screentime, but whatever.

Now, the big reptile in the room: The turtles themselves. They are, in a word - perfect. The designs, the personalities, the performances, they're all completely perfect updates of the Turtles we know and love, and in fact personalizing them further. Hey - more distinction is always good. The animation was very well-done too. Splinter, while a little harder on the discipline than I'm used to, was also well done.

The best scene in the entire picture, for me at least, is the Hashi scene. I won't spoil it, you need to see it.

Of all the films I've seen this last month, this is my favorite and the one I'd most readily recommend. I'll leave you all with this little tidbit from the climax:

"Hey, Mikey, you remember that thing you used to say when we were kids?"
"You told me never to say it again."
"Forget that. You still got one in the tank?"
"Been holdin' onto it for years...COWABUNGAAAAA!!!!!"

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