It’s no secret that this movie was produced (but not directed) by Hollywood blockbuster generator Michael Bay (among a dozen other producers, I might add). At one point it was rumored the turtles were going to be aliens, but that’s definitely not the case (there’s even a self-referential dig at this at one point in the flick). It’s a complete reboot of the franchise, at least as far as live-action movies go (the animated series and comics have been rebooted more times than I can keep track of). If the box office numbers are high enough, I’m sure sequels aplenty will be in the future.
Megan Fox stars as TV reporter April O’Neill (as she was in the cartoons, but in the comics she was originally Baxter Stockman’s assistant), who is the classic why-doesn’t-anyone-take-me-seriously journalist. Will Arnett co-stars as her sidekick Vern (another reference to the original animated series, albeit a bit more obscure). William Fichtner also stars as Eric Sacks, who reminds me a helluva lot of Willem Dafoe’s Norman Osborn (aka Green Goblin) from the 2002 Spider-Man movie.
The story starts on a similar path as the 1990 movie with the immediate establishment of “The Foot Clan” and specifically Shredder as the villains. April does some independent reporting and happens to stumble across the turtles. She then meets them up close and personal after the movie’s first (of many) action sequences.
The Turtles’ origin radically departs from the stories told by the comics and the cartoons. Without giving too much away, it turns out that a 9-year-old April and her father had a role in turning the turtles into the mutants they became. It’s actually a better, more “realistic” origin than the comics (not that you watch a movie like this for realism). What I didn’t like is that in this version, Splinter wasn’t already ninja master when he found the turtles. Instead, he just learned it from a book and taught them (really? You can become a kick-ass ninja by reading a book?).
I don’t need to describe or critique the plot in any more detail. This is a Michael Bay flick, after all. If you’re expecting characterization, exposition, theme, motifs, etc., you’re not going to find that stuff here. It’s an action movie and it definitely delivers on that promise. But it’s a kid’s action movie, so the tone is light and the story is quite simplistic (overly simplistic, IMO). The Turtles are their usual jovial selves, though they’ve definitely upped the slapstick and trendiness here. The individual Turtles do conform to their usual personality traits, though in this movie they’re all wiseguys. Their faces are the most human-like of any incarnation of the Turtles I’ve ever seen; it’s a weird juxtaposition of cute and creepy.