Wednesday, November 26, 2014
So I finally got around to watching TMNT. Yes, I'm that guy who makes decisions this whimsically. I don't go see it in theaters and then pay more than I would have to watch it on Xbox Live before it's rentable, just because I'm bored and impatient. And if someone attacked the judgment of the opinion I'm going to offer on this movie based on that alone I suppose I wouldn't really be in a position to defend myself.
But you know, I found that I enjoyed it.
2014 was a great year for movies and our green skinned heroes were up against some steep competition at the box office. It's sort of funny: there had been so much hype about this movie for a year or so and yet when it was finally in theaters, I never got around to going and seeing it. I can't even tell you why. I was busy, couldn't find the time, etc. I had been sort of oscillating between being lukewarm and excited for it for a while. When I first heard the news I was psyched, than there was this idea that the Turtles were going to be aliens, than they switched back and my hopes shot up. Then I saw what they looked like and I was skeptical. Then I saw a few clips that made me laugh and I was interested again.
I'm surprised that people were as hard on this movie as they were. I've actually been sitting here feeling that while it was no amazing masterpiece, the movie does a pretty great job of reminding you of what we loved about TMNT growing up. Megan Fox and Will Arnett are fun and funny, the Turtles' appearances were an adjustment at first but eventually grew on me and everything about Turtles that had begun to seem childish and past its prime suddenly felt new and cool again. It takes you back so to speak, to a world filled with radical science, ninja criminals armed with high-tech gear and risky investigative journalism. And by now, we're all so use to these properties, their characters and their storylines that we could probably predict what's going to happen in these kinds of films in our sleep.
But I still felt a tug at my heartstrings when Splinter refers to the Turtles as his sons, among other surprisingly touching moments. It's a fun movie! Nothing life-changing, but sequel worthy at the very least. I mean, granted, I could be influenced by some kind of small screen effect. That is, if I had seen this in theaters, I might have been disappointed. But sitting around on a day off without much to do it makes for a pleasant distraction. If I do have a complaint about TMNT, it might be its length, although I might bite my tongue even complaining about that. At only roughly an hour and a half, the movie really seems like the absolute barebones Michael Bay experience. The movie's got three acts and it doesn't even work that hard to connect the dots from point A to point B to point C. It sort of just takes it on faith that the audience knows what kind of movie this is going to be and how these things proceed. It doesn't worry that much about your willingness to suspend your disbelief that this character would do this or that--it just kind of goes with it, not working too hard to justify itself.
I mean, I'm probably not spoiling anything here:
Act I - The Turtles are discovered
Act II - The bad guys get the upper hand
Act III - The Turtles band together and save the day.
And that happens in roughly 90 minutes, so there isn't tons of filler plot to flesh out the movie or anything. It's mostly just plot point, action, plot point, action, big action sequence, credits. That's it. Still, I suppose I'm not sure what another 30 minutes of plot would have leant this movie? I mean, I feel like this is a very uncharacteristic response from me but I was sort of left feeling that at least they weren't wasting our time. They knew what movie this was and so did we. I surprised myself that I felt this way. It's funny when I look at the acts I wrote out. I mean, probably a lot of superhero movies follow this formula.
Although it strikes me when I look it over that TMNT 2014 isn't just a reboot of the Turtles franchise, it's really not that different from the original Turtles live action movie. You know, just a quick detour at the end here. While the 1990 film really exudes 90s cheese and is no work of art, it hasn't aged nearly as badly as some of the other things that we look back at and go "wow, how could we ever have been into this?" Seriously, it's not bad. It's not timeless either, but it's strange, Karate Kid/Jim Henson appeal is still there. Anyway, my point is: if you missed this in theaters, I definitely think TMNT is worth a watch now. There are plenty of old school references for the long time fans too. Stop reading here if you don't want any spoilers, but hearing Shredder vow 'Tonight I dine on Turtle soup' in Japanese definitely brought my 12-year-old self back for a moment and made me smile.