Friday, August 08, 2014

TMNT: Terrible Mind Numbing Tripe

(Dir. Jonathan Liebesman, 2014)

Now, I've never seen (or read) any Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles before. I guess I had grown too old for that stuff as a kid when it was big in the '80s (though I think I saw some of the cartoon on TV), and I completely ignored the three movies they made in the '90s - I didn't even know until I watched this 3 minute video made by Vulture about the 31 year history of the whole TMNT deal that there were three movies.

But this last week I ended my long run of being TMNT free by attending a screening of the new big ass reboot. It was a dreadful experience. While GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY shows how clever and good comic book movies can be, this offers the counter balance of how mind-boggingly bad they can can be too.

Megan Fox, apparently trading in one toy company commercial franchise for another (goodbye TRANSFORMERS, hello Turtles) stars in the clichéd role of a New York TV news reporter looking for the big story that will break her career. Fox and Will Arnett, in the just as tired archetype as her wise cracking (actually not so wise) cameraman sidekick, find out that a mysterious group of four vigilantes has been fighting back against a crime syndicate (the Foot Clan) that has been terrorizing the city.

Fox discovers that the vigilantes are overgrown reptiles that were once her pets as a little girl from an experiment her scientist father conducted before his tragic death in a lab fire.

The turtles all named after Renaissance painters (Donatello, Leonardo, Michaelangelo, and Raphael), and voiced by Jeremy Howard, Johnny Knoxville, Noel Fischer, and Alan Ritchman, under the tutelage of Master Splinter, a mutated rat voiced by Tony Shaloub, join forces with Fox to stop evil William Fichtner from releasing a deadly gas that will infect millions.

Fichter's diabolical plan concerns poisoning the population then his company profiting by selling an antidote, which makes for one of the stupidest plots in recent memory. Screenwriters Josh Appelbaum, André Nemec, and Evan Daugherty even have Fichter say “Time to take a bite out of the Big Apple.”

But fans won't care about the hackneyed plot or the pages and pages of atrocious dialogue, right? They only care about seeing their CGI-ied heroes' mad martial arts skills in fast succession, ginormous destruction sequences by way of producer Michael Bay, pizza consumption involving prominent Pizza Hut product placement, and, uh, cries of “Cowabunga!”

But, I didn't care about single thing I saw on screen in its entire 1 hour and 52 minute running time. Way before they get to the big climatic battle atop a skyscraper I had checked out. I couldn't tell the Turtles apart, even Knoxville (arguably the only one that's a name voicing them) didn't stand out, and the stakes felt non existent in all the visually murky mess that the damn 3D conversion usually makes too dark, while not enhancing any element.

I thought my extreme dislike was due in part to not having any childhood connection to these characters, but my younger fellow critics who had been fans back in the day told me after the screening that they hated it too.

But Fox may have made a smart choice, because from what I hear about its $60 million opening this weekend, she may have another critic proof franchise on her hands. It's also another series in which she won't have to worry at all about her lack of talent.

At least I can now say I've actually seen a TMNT project, and that acronym now stands for something new to me: Terrible Mind Numbing Tripe.

More later..

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